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Assorted Thoughts on Getting into Comic Books

I am just getting into reading more comic books, and I know I have ComiXology to thank for it.

sagaComiXology is a “cloud-based digital comics platform” that I use to buy and read digital comics. I first started using ComiXology in April when the first three trade editions of Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Williams went on sale ahead of the Readathon. I wanted to have some comics on hand and the recommendations were good, so I decided to try it out.

After a few months of dipping my toes into comics, I’ve discovered that I love using ComiXology for comics discovery, but despite great subscription options, I prefer read comics in trade editions.

Quick Notes on Terminology

If you’re not familiar with comics lingo, this video from Amanda Nelson at Book Riot is a good primer. Basically:

  • Single issue: What you think of when you think of comics, like a magazine, 30 or 40 pages, with one part of a serialized story.
  • Trade paperback: Several single issues bound together in a single paperback. Spoiler alert, this is my favorite format for comics.
  • Deluxe edition: Several trade paperbacks bound together into a fancy hardcover book. These often have lots of cool extras.

Comics Discovery on ComiXology

rat queensI really love that you can buy single issues of a comic for anywhere between $.99 and $2.99 through the ComiXology app. These single issues are usually around 30 pages and help me get a sense of whether a comic is something I’ll enjoy reading. And I love when I can catch up with a series by reading several single issues in a row, like I’ve been doing with Rat Queens and Sex Criminals.

I read most comics on my tablet (Samsung Galaxy Note). It’s big enough that I can look at full pages if I want to, but one of my favorite features of the ComiXology app is their “Guided View” technology. Basically, instead of showing full pages, the app will slides you through one frame at a time the comic book. I love this feature – for me, it makes a page of text and images seem a little less intimidating.

Advancing to Trades 

Once I’m caught up with a series, I find single issues frustrating. ComiXology does make it easy to subscribe to a story – it’ll automatically purchase each new issue when it comes out and send you a notification when there’s a new issue available. I tried doing that with Saga after I got caught up with the entire run, but it just wasn’t very satisfying.

Single issues remind me of an episode of a television show – without another episode soon after, I lose threads of the story and can’t enjoy it as easily. I’d much rather buy five or six single issues bound together in a trade edition – they’re great digitally, and fun to buy in hard copy as well, if it’s a series I know that I like.

ComiXology (and comics publishers) is pretty great at offering sales on some of their different titles, which can make it inexpensive to jump in and try something new. This week, for instance, Boom Studios is having a sale on comics with strong leading ladies – I grabbed Steed and Mrs. Peel Vol. 1, The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury, Supurbia Vol. 1 (all trade editions) and Hacktivist #1 (a single issue) for less than $15 total.

Stand Alone Stories and My Library

y the last manAnother place where I have been exploring comics for free is through my local library, which has a pretty decent collection to choose from and connections to a well-stocked library system.

Most of the comics available at the library are trade editions, stand alone graphic novels or graphic memoirs, or deluxe editions. Through the library I’ve been reading Brian K. Vaughn’s Y: The Last Man series in the deluxe editions and have plans to pick up several others I’ve seen on the shelves – The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff, Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang, and This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki.

One of the areas I want to start exploring more is (you guessed it!) nonfiction comics. I know that there’s a pretty extensive range of graphic memoirs – Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, Blankets by Craig Thompson, Tangles by Sarah Leavitt – but I’m not sure what offerings there are for more traditional nonfiction told through comics. I’m going to keep looking for those options because I’ve had so much fun jumping into the world of comics.

What are some of your favorite comics or graphic novels?


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • JeffH August 27, 2014, 8:02 am

    You summed up my thoughts about reading trades exactly! As for recommendations you might like I can offer:
    Velvet (Ed Brubaker), Image
    Revival (Tim Seeley), Image
    Locke & Key (Joe Hill), IDW
    The Unwritten (Mike Carey), Vertigo
    I Kill Giants (Joe Kelly), Image

    I’m also a big fan of Terry Moore. I have Echo and am reading Rachel Rising but have not read Strangers in Paradise, which he is most known for.

    • Kim September 4, 2014, 8:26 pm

      Thanks for the recommendations! I’ve heard of a couple of those, but most are new to me.

  • Vasilly August 27, 2014, 8:21 am

    My daughter feels the same way as you when it comes to reading comics digitally versus trade editions. The format really doesn’t matter for me, but when I love a series, I want it in print.

    Some of my favorite comics or graphic novels are Fables (Willingham), I Kill Giants (Kelly), Ichiro (Inzana), The Olympians series (O’Connor), Bayou (Love), March (Lewis), and Stitches (Small).

    • Kim September 4, 2014, 8:26 pm

      I loved Fables. I was reading those through the library, but my new library doesn’t have them.

  • Radhika August 27, 2014, 9:50 am

    I am a huge fan of the graphic format. Some of favorite reads are:
    Tangles (Sarah Leavitt), Can’t we talk about something more pleasant (Roz Chast)
    both these deal with somewhat similar topics and are very touching.

    Marbles by Ellen Forney (Forney takes about her bipolar disorder with a lot of humor)
    Palestine (Joe Sacco), Onward towards our noble deaths (Shigeru Mizuki)
    these two left me speechless with sadness.

    The Photographer (Emmaneul Guibert) (graphic memoir/photo essay on war-torn Afghanistan)

    Aya (Marguerite Abouet), Ghostopolis (Doug Tennapel) and El Illumindao (Ilan Stavans)

    • Kim September 4, 2014, 8:27 pm

      Tangles is high on my list — I’ve heard wonderful things about that one.

  • Jenn @SeeJennRead August 27, 2014, 9:51 am

    I absolutely agree with everything you said…I love Comixology for trying out new comics, but I much prefer waiting for the trades and binge reading. (Actually, if it’s a series that’s been out for awhile, I usually buy 2 trade paperbacks at a time lol.)

    Here’s my recommendations:
    -#1 Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore. I love love love this series and think everyone should read it! Also Echo & Rachel Rising. But first SIP.
    -Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Epic.
    -The Minx line of “comics for girls” that came out in 2007ish…Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and The New York Four by Brian Wood were my favorites, but I loved them all.

    Seconding: Locke & Key (horror by Stephen King’s son, best!), The Unwritten (for mega book nerds), Fables (fairy tale retellings). 🙂

    • Kim September 4, 2014, 8:29 pm

      Plain Janes was so sweet — I read that awhile ago when I was doing more comics through the library. Thanks for the endorsement of Strangers in Paradise, I’ll look for that one!

  • Sandy August 27, 2014, 10:48 am

    I don’t know when my love affair with GNs started, but it was thanks to bloggers for introducing me. I’m REALLY loving Saga…so totally weird but I can’t stop. Here are some of my favorites (I’m too lazy to look up the authors, sorry):

    Maus I and Maus II
    The Photographer
    Stephen King’s The Stand (comes in like five or six books)
    Fun Home

    But then there are the books that aren’t comics, but are graphic. Like Vivian Swift’s “When Wanderers Cease to Roam” and “Le Road Trip”. I completely fell in love with these.

    • Kim September 4, 2014, 8:29 pm

      Saga is super weird, but I totally love it.

  • Leah @ Books Speak Volumes August 27, 2014, 5:03 pm

    As much as I’ve meant to, I haven’t really dived into comics or graphic novels yet. I’ve read one graphic novel (The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, which I LOVED) and one issue of a comic book (Sex Criminals, which was okay but didn’t make me go out and buy the next issue). Maybe I’ll get the boyfriend to download Comixology to his tablet so I can try more things!

    • Kim September 4, 2014, 8:31 pm

      I love how easy Comixology makes it to try new comics. For just a dollar or two you can sample a huge range of stories. It’s helped me find some favorite authors and stories that I dove into in other formats.

  • SuziQoregon August 27, 2014, 6:02 pm

    You already have a couple of my favorites in Saga and Y: The Last Man.

    I recently finished the Sweet Tooth series by Jeff Lemire and loved it.

    I added to my own TBR list just from reading through the comments here so thanks to everyone who commented already.

    • Kim September 4, 2014, 8:31 pm

      Right? The comments on this post are amazing. I am so excited.

  • Teresa August 27, 2014, 6:09 pm

    I’ve actually been really enjoying reading comics an issue at a time, although I sometimes have to go back and look at the previous issue to refresh my memory when a new one arrives. Right now, I’m subscribed to Hawkeye, Fables, and Ms Marvel.

    I can definitely see how Comixology would be great for discovery, although I haven’t used it that way. I did download a bunch of freebies from them on Free Comic Book day, but I haven’t looked at them. I’m trying to limit my subscriptions, so I don’t want to get excited about a new title if I can’t get it at the library.

    There are lots of great options out there for nonfiction comics, besides memoirs. I especially think you’d love Joe Sacco’s Journalism, an anthology of some of the news stories he reported on in a comics format. It includes some commentary about the work of journalists and doing journalism in a comics format.

    And have you read Brooke Gladstone’s The Influencing Machine? It’s a graphic “novel” about the media.

    • Kim September 4, 2014, 8:32 pm

      Yes, I have read The Influencing Machine — I liked it a lot. I haven’t read Joe Sacco, but you’re right, that sounds super great.

  • Sheila (Book Journey) August 27, 2014, 9:25 pm

    Interesting! I had not heard of this.

  • L August 28, 2014, 9:22 am

    I love the trade and prefer print.
    faves yet to be listed in comments:
    Hope Larson, Faith Erin Hicks, Adrian Tomine, Derek Kirk Kim, Sara Varon’s Robot Dreams, anything Jeff Lemire, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s latest: Seconds (and Scott Pilgrim) are fun.
    Transmetropolitan (Ellis) is a favorite.
    The Color of Heaven trilogy by Kim Dong Hwa
    Epileptic by David B.
    Deogratias (Stassen)
    Embroideries (Sartrapi)

    I’m really looking forward to reading Michael Cho’s Shoplifter

    • Kim September 4, 2014, 8:33 pm

      Oh yes, I forgot to mention Seconds. I thought that one was adorable.

  • Leslie August 31, 2014, 7:07 am

    I have never actively pursued reading single editions and I don’t think I would like it very much. I barely like reading trades if the whole series isn’t out yet. I just like a complete series, I think. I 2nd Teresa’s suggestion of Joe Sacco – if you haven’t already read his books, you must. You’ll love them, I think.

    • Kim September 4, 2014, 8:35 pm

      I thought I’d like subscribing to single issues… but I really don’t. I have a hard time keeping up with the story threads.

  • Jenny @ Reading the End September 1, 2014, 8:20 pm

    I like a lot of the ones you’ve mentioned, and I loooove Comixology. It’s such a great app. I second (or third or whatever) the recommendation of The Unwritten, although I am way behind on it, and I am excited to hear more about your comics-reading adventures as you go along.

    • Kim September 4, 2014, 8:36 pm

      The Unwritten looks so good. I am very curious about that one. And I’m glad it’s a ways into the series — it’s fun to just do a deep dive into a story like that.