Comics: Where to begin.
Have you ever wanted to get into comics, but then you saw all those endless racks of issues in mid-run and didn’t know where to begin? Are you into comics already but would like to investigate the non-superhero side a bit more? Well, I’m giving you a reading list to do just that.
First a primer: Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. Anyone interested in art should read this, but for comic readers, it’s doubly required. It uses comics to explain comics and it is pretty much universally admired for its insight and clarity. You’ll never look at comics the same way again.
Now that you understand comics on a deeper level, it’s time to test that understanding. Comics are more than just superheroes. And if you’ve tried comics in the past, you have probably already read a superhero story or two. Try these instead…
A spectacular and transporting intro into sequential art is The Arrival by Shaun Tan. I can’t say enough good things about this graphic novel. The Arrival is wondrous, personal, universal, and timeless. Imaginative doesn’t cover it. It’s pure magic on the page, and it demonstrates how comics can do things that other mediums can’t.
Take your time to absorb every image. It’s easy to fly through comics and just read the words. This book doesn’t have words, and it’s good practice for taking in and reading images. You have more control over the pace of comics than prose. You don’t want to experience everything on fast forward.
Now that you have been dazzled, it’s time for some classic manga. Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha is my pick. This book challenged a lot of my ideas about classic comics. What is the tone, the subject, the style of a comic from the late 70’s?
After reading the 8 volumes of Buddha, one of the father of manga’s last epics, it’s time to read something a bit more modern…
We3 by Grant Morrison (Writer) and Frank Quitely (Artist). Brutal and heartfelt. It takes risks with the form and it pays off. This limited six issue run has robot battles and ultra-violence, but it also has a powerful emotional core.
Your comics education has just begun. I’ll continue with your reading list soon. That should be enough to get you started.