Anyone who recommends people get into comics with Watchmen should have their computer taken away and smashed with a bat.
A general recommendation of "the one book to get into comics" is bullshit, anyway.
For some, it's gonna be Raina Telgemeier, or a single X-Men issue from 1994, or reading a Scott McCloud book, or webcomics, or a Chinese copy of Maus they found in a hotel room and can't actually understand -- there's no one-book-fits-all.
What "start with Watchmen" communicates is: "I think it's the best one, and my opinions haven't changed since 1995."
How *I* got into comics is essentially impossible to recommend outside of the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, and 1993 -- Donald Duck comics don't tend to exist in the same way, and you're not learning to read.
How I got into superhero comics is with Ultimate Spider-Man, and though that's aged pretty well, it's extremely 2001, extremely decompressed, and not something I'd necessarily recommend to a new reader in 2019.
Basic questions to ask someone who says they want to get into comics:
* How familiar are you with the form? Do you read any webcomics, or manga?
* What makes you say you wanna get into comics? A recent movie, or TV show? Something you read online?
* When you say you wanna get into comics, what are you talking about wanting to get into exactly? Superhero stuff?
@Alexis Start with Before Watchmen, obviously.
@Alexis the whole idea of "getting into comics" is bullshit anyway, it's like saying "getting into novels" or "getting into TV shows"
It's not a GENRE, it's a MEDIUM.
(Not that "start with Watchmen" is a good answer to "how to get into superhero comics," either.)
@Alexis I really wish this thread had existed when I was 15. I figured out the stuff I liked eventually, but not before becoming extremely burnt out on fandom (and its gatekeepers) and feeling shut-out before I'd ever really started. I'm 31 now and I still rarely if ever talk about the graphic novels/comics I read, let alone the webcomics. Thank you.
First recommendations, all for if you wanna read superhero stuff but feel the overwhelming continuity gets in the way:
* Robert Kirkman's Invincible is a standalone -- indie, so not Marvel or DC -- superhero story over about ~150 issues.
* All-Star Superman is absolutely beautiful, and really sells what I like about the character.
* Nextwave, irreverent superhero action comedy juuuust off to the side of the Marvel Universe.
@Alexis @dirk when I thought about what I didn't like: I'm instant overwhelmed when it comes to classic superhero stories because I never know where to start. I always feel like that I already need all this knowledge about the hero and the universe to enjoy it in the first place. I can hardly relate to the characters because it's all references. so ... maybe I need a beginning?
@maj Yeah, that's one of the big problems with the big superhero universes, and a completely reasonable complaint -- I hope you don't mind me asking you some more questions:
* What's your, say, top three favourite non-superhero TV shows, movies?
* Are there any superheroes you're specifically interested in?
* Are you okay with me recommending comics from, say, the 1960s? Or would you prefer to read something modern, from the past few years?
@Alexis recent tv shows I love: Sense8, Star Trek, Orphan Black, Dowton Abbey, Grace & Frankie 😆, no specific Super Hero but "lonesome cowboy" stories bore me, old stuff is fine but I'm concerned that I won't find them?
long posts, recommendations
@maj Okay, here are some recommendations.
All of these should be relatively affordable on Amazon, or are at least easily accessible on digital comics services Comixology and/or Marvel Unlimited.
* THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL -- all-ages book, still running. Comp-sci student Doreen Green fights crime with her squirrel sidekick Tippy-Toe. Fun, charming, clever, warm. Very much exists in the broader Marvel Universe without assuming you know anything.
long posts, recommendations
* RUNAWAYS -- teen book, what the Hulu show is based on. Six teenagers run away from home when their parents turn out to be supervillains. A little darker, but fun, and the original series can be Very Mid-2000s sometimes, but I think this one holds up. Has cool canonical queer characters. Wolverine and other guest stars show up sometimes, but very much does its own thing.
long posts, recommendations
* ALIAS -- the dark, mature audiences book the JESSICA JONES Netflix show is based on. Former superhero -- well, she tried, briefly -- turns to a life as a private investigator. Very dark, very grim, but cool and snappy, and one of the best crime stories ever told in the superhero context.
Content warnings very much apply for serious sexual violence, serious mind control, substance abuse, that kind of thing.
long posts, recommendations
* Any collection that collects the first issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN or FANTASTIC FOUR. These are well-liked classics for a reason, and they're some of the best comics ever printed -- even if the dialogue can be a bit overly wordy sometimes. (I mean, it's the 1960s!)
long posts, some notes
@maj With all of these, I would recommend looking up what the interior art looks like before you commit to a purchase -- there should be easy preview pages on Comixology for all of them.
If you do end up wanting to buy something, please don't hesitate to ask me exactly what to get -- there are occasionally multiple things called "volume 1" -- hardcovers, softcovers, various relaunches, original graphic novels -- and I know it can get confusing.
long posts, some notes
@maj I don't think I've recommended anything particularly odious -- outside of ALIAS, to which, well, like I said, serious content warnings apply -- but please keep in mind that the older it gets the less socially conscious it is by modern standards.
A book from 2004 might be more male gaze-y than it would be today, and the 1960s stuff can get a little... women have fainting spells sometimes, that kind of thing.
long posts, an additional recommendation
Also, I wrote this rec up before I saw the Complete Collections were out of print, so you can get only get them second-hand for about double the original retail price, and I dunno what your budget is, but still:
long posts, additional recommendation
* The Dan Slott run on SHE-HULK -- Jen Walters, turned into the SHE-HULK from a blood transfusion from her cousin Bruce Banner, juggles personal life with careers as superhero and lawyer. Revels in the continuity of the universe, but plays with it, enjoys it, has fun.
Not a beginning, so much, but think of it as -- She-Hulk was on another show, and this book is her spin-off. Accessible to a new audience, doesn't pretend the old stuff didn't happen.
@Alexis (thank you for giving me your time and energy on this 😁)
@Alexis so long as it's Sergio Leone films, i guess?
@Alexis Six deconstructionist Spaghetti Westerns, and if you don't like those, you can't like action movies.
@reinderdijkhuis "I just wanted to see what the big deal about Die Hard was."
"Did they have to redub every third actor in Die Hard because most of them barely speak English? I think not!"
@Alexis not about you, but I don't understand why it seems so bloody rare for people to start with "what other things do you like?"
How are you going to know what comics someone will like if you don't know their general taste in media????
@Alexis And I mean this applies for recommendations of ANYTHING. No one ever seems to start with asking what the other person likes! They just start listing what THEY like and I'm like what makes you think you have the same tastes as this other person, why does everyone do this
@InspectorCaracal That's exactly what I meeeaaannnn~
I get that top ten lists are the basic default format for the internet these days, but, like, fuck, start at "What superhero movies did you like?" or "What's your favourite TV show?"
(Thor 1? Try Thor: The Mighty Avenger. The Good Place? Try Grant Morrison's Animal Man.)
@Alexis The Beano and The Dandy were/are THE comics, for me
@purplemontart I try to pick up a Beano whenever I'm in the UK, I always really like them, even if I don't quite get all of the jokes.
@Alexis I miss the Dandy - Desperate Dan was the best
@Alexis Yes, thank you. I've tried to express this to people before, but I go into an anti-Moore rant space and they stop listening. This is much better communicated.
@zephasaurus_hex I've been guilty of the anti-Moore rant, myself, believe me. But thank you!
@Alexis I know my mother has her students read this, and a few others, for her comics as literature course.
But she never recommends it as a first comic outside of class. Because it's dark. And heavy. And requires you have some level of understanding of the medium or genre. And it's gritty af.
Fine for class because its a literature class, you're supposed to be reading deeper material. But for casual comic reading? Wait until you're ready.
@magicalmilly It's a historically hugely significant work, by people who were at the the peak of their craft, and it influenced the medium and the genre for multiple decades -- it absolutely has a place in a literature class.
@Alexis Exactly. She assigns like that and Maus and Persepolis.
I think there's a few more, but I cannot remember them right now.
Maybe not the feel good casual read. But good examples of literature through non-traditional means. And it's great.
Watchmen was the first comic my now-spouse gave me to read. Having read no other comics I didn't know or care how innovative it was. I didn't know or care about its context.
It was like my previous boyfriend, self-proclaimed movie-lover, telling me Casablanca was "so derivative" when I finally made him watch it. It isn't Casablanca's fault everything in it is a cliché now. Same with Watchmen.
(Spouse is much less of an idiot 15 years later. But I still don't read comics.)
@Alexis god this is a great thread. I am just gettin into comics. Everybody recommends watchman when i say that. I fucking hated watchmen. I will probably, sadly, never like anything by Moore again as a result
@Alexis although Ronin was rad. I think he wrote that. Maybe red son was too? I’ve mostly been reading the original comic progs I’d Judge Dredd
@Alexis the second thing everyone recommends is Sand Man. Another one that turned me off on page one. I think those are the only two anyone has heard of
@Absolutely_Blakely I *loved* Sandman when I came to it as a highly comics-literate teenager, but when I first tried to read it years earlier, it might as well have been The Illiad in the original Greek.
Watchmen is "the best comic" because it improved on what came before it, but if you don't have any context for what came before it, if your context is superhero movies and Squirrel Girl comics, Watchmen just becomes a cactus in a swimming pool.
@Alexis “now that I’ve seen Pacific Rim, I’d like to get more into mecha anime!”
“Oh cool here. Check out Evangelion”
@Absolutely_Blakely Exactly. There's value to checking out historically significant, form/genre-defining works, absolutely. But to pretend they're what they were when they came out is absurd.
Evangelion fundamentally can not mean to a modern audience coming to it for the first time what it meant to people in the late 90s. It can't! It won't ever be able to carry the same meaning again!
@Alexis this analysis, it’s good, friend
@Absolutely_Blakely I can recognise most of his work as being Good, but I honestly don't like any of it very much.
That can sound like heresy to other comics enthusiasts sometimes, but Watchmen, and Moore in general, are relics of an Anglosphere-centric comics culture that I was never part of.
I'm not American, I was born in 1991, I grew up with European comics traditions -- why would Watchmen mean *anything* to me?
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