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Comics 201, Special Edition: A Kids’ Guide to Talking Comics

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When I was a kid, I didn’t read comic books.

I know, right? It’s crazy. I loved superheroes and science fiction and books and cartoons and all the things that the average geek loves. I’d read almost every Star Wars book ever by the time I was twelve and read The Lord of the Rings in middle school, but I didn’t read my first comic book until I was sixteen and didn’t start following comics until I was in my twenties.

Yeah, I was old, but you know what? I was still scared. Even now that I’m a super grown-up bona fide comics expert, I still get nervous when I talk about comics. What if I don’t know something? What if I get a fact wrong? What if I don’t like the right things? What if somebody is mean to me?

Getting into comics can be hard, and it’s even harder if there’s a lot people trying to “help” by asking you questions when you’ve got so many questions of your own! You don’t need all the answers, but finding the comics you want will be a lot easier if you know how to talk about them.

To help you out, here are three important things every comics reader should know:

1. All comics are different.

When most people think of comic books, they think of superheroes, but there are as many kinds of comics as there are “regular” books, which can make it hard to figure out what you want to read. Try thinking about what kinds of stories you like. Do you like movies about space travel? Books about dragons? What about funny cartoons? Come up with some of your favorites and find out if there are any comics like those.

If you like the Redwall books, try Mouse Guard. If you watch a lot of Disney TV shows about kids doing kid things, give the Archie comics a try. [third example] There’s also a ton of comics based on different movies and TV shows like Star Wars, My Little Pony, Regular Show, and dozens more. If what you want is super heroes, obviously, you won’t have too much trouble, especially when there’s great things like Justice League Unlimited, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, Teen Titans Go!, and the Marvel Adventures books, not to mention Ms. Marvel, Gotham Academy,

The important thing to remember is that most comics are written for adults. That doesn’t mean you can’t read them or that you’re not “mature” enough; it just means that those books will make more sense and be more interesting to people who are a little older. If you’re not sure whether something is supposed to be for grown-ups, try asking someone at the bookstore or getting one of your parents to read it first. Sometimes, putting a comic aside until you’re ready to read it can make you like it that much more.

2. There are a lot of ways to get comics.

One of the reasons I didn’t start reading comics until I was an old person was because I didn’t live near a comic book store, and I didn’t know where else to get them! Lucky for you, there are a lot of ways to find comics, and some of the big ones are:

  • Your local comic book store, sometimes called your LCS. You can find out if there are any comics stores in your area on www.ComicShopLocator.com. If there are several stores, try visiting all of them to see which one you like best!
  • The library. Seriously! Most public libraries have a graphic novel section, usually somewhere near the adult nonfiction. You can look at the online catalogue for your local library to see what comics they have and what they can get from other libraries in the area.
  • Online. Just like any other book, you can buy comics online from websites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and you can also get digital copies to read right on your computer. The most popular place to get digital comics is www.Comixology.com. If you have your own email address, you can get an account for free, but be careful not to buy any comics until a parent says it’s okay.

Since your parents are probably the ones buying your comics, they might say something about how much the books cost. You can tell them not to worry and that I have some money-saving tips for them in the special edition of Comics 201, “For the Super Parent in Training.”

Some of places will have sections with comics for your age, but a lot of them don’t. Remember that some comics look like they’re for kids but actually aren’t, and to check with a grown-up if you’re not sure.

3. Comics are for everyone.

Some kinds of people might tend to like certain comics better than others, but there aren’t actually any rules about who can like what comics. There’s definitely not a rule that says certain people can’t like comics at all!

You’ve probably been told that comics are a boy thing. You might even have been told that comics aren’t for you, that people like you—whatever flavor of person that is—just don’t like comics. Well, I’m here to tell you that they’re absotively, posilutely, one-hundred-percent WRONG.

Can you imagine never getting to try pizza because somebody said that only blond people liked pizza? Or never riding a bike because you heard there were no bikes for people who were left-handed? Saying that only boys can like comics is just as silly as saying only certain people can like pizza or riding a bike.

Comics are for everyone, and everyone includes you!

There’s no way that anybody can know everything there is to know about comic books, but if you know those three things, you’ve got all you need to get started. For the other stuff you want to know, the good news is that all comics fans have at least one thing in common: We love to talk about comics! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, whether you’re talking to a bookstore owner, another fan, or even a real comic book writer. Heck, you can ask me!

Comic books are awesome, and I’m really excited for all the cool stuff you’re going to read. I’m also really proud of you for wanting to learn and try new things. That can be hard to do, and I hope reading this makes it a little bit easier.

Take a second to give yourself a high-five, and then go read some comics!

Jordan West is an obsessive writer, dedicated cosplayer, and fake geek girl living in Minneapolis. Specialties include ultra angsty fan fiction, feminist commentary, and co-captaining the WTF Comics Club. Follow Jo on Facebook for ongoing hijinks.

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