Yesterday, I posted the first two entries in The Great Stampede – both offering back-to-basics guides for toys/toy collecting. Today, I’m serving up another back-to-basics guide, only this time talking about comics.

Over the coming months, comics and comic book news will be cropping up on It’s A Stampede! on a frequent basis, so with this being the early days of the blog, I thought it would be good to create a starting point. Below is a guide to buying and collecting comics, which if you’re new to collecting or buying should prove useful.

Before we begin, there’s just two things to note:

1.) As with the previous ‘Toy 101s’, this is a beginners’ guide, so pros will know this information already.

2.) The following ‘101’ guide is a modified version of two posts I previously uploaded to The Honcho-SFX blog. For more in depth discussions on comic book buying, check out my original posts.

Alex

Comics 101: A guide to buying and collecting

Where can I pick-up comics?

Comics can be purchased online, via online stores or eBay; they can be purchased from bricks and mortar stores such as newsagents or comic shops; or they can be picked up (usually on the secondary market) at conventions.

If it’s digital comics you’re after, you can purchase comics directly from the publisher or you can purchase a wealth of titles via a digital platform such as Comixology.

If you want to read comics without owning them, you can subscribe to an ‘unlimited service’, such as Marvel Unlimited which gives you access to read a wealth of comics online for a monthly subscription fee (think Netflix, but for comics).

If money is tight, head to your local library. Many libraries throughout the UK, offer a large number of graphic novels and trade paperbacks for you to borrow for free!

And don’t forget, friends and/or colleagues may also be able to help you out. If you know someone who reads comics, why not ask to borrow a few books? Organise a ‘swap session’ between a group of likeminded friends and you could easily cut down the cost of spending, while increasing the number of books you can read.

What is the best way to start reading comics?

Comics can be a bit of a minefield and knowing where to start can be a pretty daunting prospect, so if you have friends who read comics, or they read a specific title you are interested in, then ask them about their favourite stories; this could give you a good starting point. If you don’t have any friends who read comics, a quick Google search about a particular title and/or character will usually offer up ‘jumping on points’, which should also ease you in.

The most important thing to remember is that comics are like soap operas – they are designed to welcome in new readers all the time, by recounting the main story threads without you even realising. All you really need do is pick a character, pick up a book and before long you’ll soon be up to speed.

How often are comics published?

New comics are published on a weekly basis, arriving in comic shops and online every Wednesday – a day referred to by readers/buyers as new comic book day. Each Wednesday a large selection of comics will go on sale from a range of publishers, from the big two (Marvel and DC), to small and independent publishers.

What comics are on release this week?

New releases vary from week-to-week, so the comics that hit the shelves this week will differ to those that hit the shelves next week. As a rule of thumb, most titles are published on a monthly or bi-monthly schedule.

If you want a little more certainty about a particular title’s release schedule you can either speak with the store or you can check out Previews – a publication dedicated to promoting new releases.

Publishers such as Marvel and DC also use social media to promote the week’s new releases, so following their Facebook or Instagram accounts is also recommended.

How much do comics cost?

New release comics tend to retail for around £3+. Prices vary from publisher to publisher and from book to book, but the price is always indicated quite clearly on the cover. All prices are listed as per their country of origin (US, UK etc), but conversion charts are available in comic book stores to help work out international prices.

If you’re after slightly cheaper comics, then ask in store for discount packs. Many comic book stores will sell comic packs which usually include 3 or 4 random (yet recent) comics. These comics are sold for a discounted price and are basically overstock the store is keen to shift quickly.

Digital comics tend to retail for the same price as physical copies, but often publishers will have sales to give readers the opportunity to pick up multiple titles on the cheap.

If you’re looking for older comics then you will need to look on the secondary market (eBay, conventions etc) for back issues. The price of back issues varies significantly, from a few pence to thousands of pounds (and more), so try to shop around if you can.

Can I buy a physical/digital bundle?

Yes. Many publishers (including Marvel & DC) provide readers with a two-for-one deal whereby you buy a physical copy of a comic and you are given a digital copy of the same comic for free. Physical comics contain a unique code, which give readers the opportunity to access a digital edition. Not every publisher offers this deal, so check before you buy.

Are there age limits on comics?

No. There are some comics which are deemed inappropriate for certain readers and these will carry disclaimers if the material is specifically unsuitable for young readers. It is usually up to reader discretion to determine what is appropriate for them.

In the case of Marvel and DC, comics are aimed at the average reader and as such violence and bad language is toned down or carefully balanced so not to cause offence. If Marvel or DC decide to publish material that is aimed at a more adult demographic they will do so under one of their imprints, which have been set up specifically to carry this type of material.

What else do I need to know about comic books?

Reading comic books – like reading books or watching films – can be a heap of fun, as can collecting comics. Comic books open up whole new worlds, with imaginative and dynamic characters, and collecting can kick-start a journey where you meet interesting and likeminded people. Comics can be costly, but there are ways to expand your reading without breaking the bank.