It’s safe to say right now that comic books are a bit of a big thing. I mean DC Comics helps make up for a good chuck on CW programming almost every weeknight. Oh and there is also this Marvel Cinematic Universe that is making pretty much all the money in theaters.
Comic books are being adapted left, right, and center for film, TV, and also video games, but what about the comics themselves? Comic books are still selling very well and there undoubtedly have to be those curious watching the movies and TV shows they are adapted from about source material or maybe just comic books in general.
Well that’s what this is all about. Those of us here at Don’t Hate the Geek that love them some funny books have come together for those curious with each of our own personal recommendations of certain books or series that we think would make for a great introduction into how amazing comic books are. These will range from selections of The Big Two, but also outside of them, since it just ain’t superheroes that rule the medium.
Let’s dive in!
The Essential Calvin and Hobbes is a must read for the young and the young at heart. Calvin is a dichotomy in every strip; providing both an adult and child’s perspective on complex and simple issues alike. He is an everyday boy who hates school, homework, and baths. His ultimate goal in life is to avoid girls and spend as much time as possible outside exploring. His actions and imagination will keep kids begging for more. In contrast his vast vocabulary and seemingly endless knowledge of topics beyond his years will delight any comic loving adult.
Hobbes, his beloved stuffed tiger, comes to life in his zany imagination. Hobbes plays the role of confidant, conscience, and best friend in the comics. He also in some ways represents the carnal part of Calvin’s brain, as he offers a Darwinistic ‘animals perspective’ on everyday life.
As a child I read the Essential Calvin and Hobbes so often the pages are now bent and tattered. In my eyes, Calvin seemed to be so wise in his knowledge of things I didn’t yet understand. At the same time however I could relate to him; I hated homework, baths, and wanted to play outside all day too! Hobbes was the stuffed animal of any kids dreams, one that would not only protect you from monsters at night but adventure the days away too. I credit my vocabulary and love of writing to reading these books over and over again.
If you only read one comic book story in your life, you owe it to yourself to make it Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye. I could honestly read it every day and never get bored with it. Aja’s art style is retro and fresh all at the same time. It’s purposefully minimalist without being boring and each page is designed in such a way that it’s unthinkable to imagine this story existing as anything other than a comic book. Everything about this book, from the words, to the illustrations, and even the panel layouts come together to create a unique adventure.
As for Fraction’s story, it’s about acts of everyday heroism. Clint Barton is an Avenger that, by his own admission, probably shouldn’t be. He’s a human that’s outclassed by Gods, scientific marvels, and alien beings. He makes poor decisions, gets taken advantage of, and is generally unlucky in life. Yet, time and time again, Clint proves he’s the person who really embodies what it means to be a hero. This isn’t a book about defeating cosmic level super threats; it’s about paying rent. It’s about being a good neighbor, helping a stray dog, and letting the people who care about you into your life. Hawkeye is the story about what it costs to be a hero – it’s about making your own stuff work.
Bro, you read this book, bro. It make you happy, bro.
There are a lot of things one could write about Saga, but in introducing someone new to comic books, this book is perfect. Saga is a story of just about everything really. The main story is Alana and Marko, two lovers from different species at war who abandon their cause and are now running away from soldiers and bounty hunters, not just after them, but their newly born daughter, Hazel. Yet there is a whole lot more to it than that.
Brian K. Vaughan crafts such a unique book that takes so many things and blends them together perfectly, but at its heart the book is really about connection and how hard it can be to really allow trust and faith in others when you need them there the most be that in your significant other, your family, those that you work with, the ghost of an alien teenager with one-half of a body that babysits your child, the bonded word of bounty hunters, and even reluctant trust in your enemy to take down a bigger threat to you all. There might be aliens, robots with TVs for heads, and a cat that tells when you’re lying, but Saga is at its core an all too human story.
On the other hand, its also outrageously ludicrous and part of that has to go to artist Fiona Staples. One moment there could be the most honest and sincere moment between characters and then you’ve transitioned to a situation gone wrong on a sex planet. The art Staples provides is maybe the most important part of Saga. The way she draws everyone is exceptional because how they are drawn really can convey so much more than what’s on the surface and make it that more engaging. The way she helps build and expand the world puts the size and scope of this book on par with Lord of the Rings. Every little thing in this book is mesmerizing and I do believe once you take a look at it for yourself, your eyes aren’t going to get enough. Saga is simply comic books at its best.
Locke and Key was the very first comic series I’ve ever read that showed me just how deep the medium could go and quickly became one of my favorite things I’ve ever read, not just in comics. The second I cracked open volume 1; I knew comics weren’t just about superheroes anymore. Locke and Key is a story about the Locke family on their dark, Gothic adventures in their new home of Keyhouse.
Joe Hill, son of Stephen King, showed with this series that he’s much more than the son of one of my favorite authors. The world he built on the very first page of the first book is one of mystery, horror, and imagination that I’ve never seen before in literature before, not just comics. His story of Bode, Tyler, and Kinsey Locke are stories of acceptance, growth, and personal triumph in the face of adversity that I’ll continue to not only read on a regular basis, but share with anyone that’s willing to give the series a shot.
Gabriel Rodriguez is someone who deserves so many more accolades in the comic book community than he actually receives. In the world of comic books, the story can only build the world you’re diving into so much that the rest has to be done by the artist. Rodriguez had a mighty task in showing us the world that Hill saw when he was writing the story, but he met the challenge head-on and exceeded expectations. In a world that promises anything is possible, Rodriguez shows us just how true that statement is.
Few superheroes are as iconic as the Batman, one of the backbones of DC Comics. Though there are many great stories to choose from, sometimes, the best place to begin is at the end. The Dark Knight Returns is a fantastic miniseries, written by Frank Miller and illustrated by Miller and Klaus Janson. It depicts a dystopian future in Gotham where Batman has been out of action for years. During that time, the Mutants have risen to terrorize the city, and as the title indicates, the Dark Knight returns to restore order. He did not expect his most iconic villains to follow his reappearance though.
This miniseries can be read as one large volume, which I highly recommend. It gives you everything you need to introduce yourself to the Bat himself. You will see his origin story and be introduced to his most well known foes. You will witness a retired hero’s struggle to find his place in a changed world. Much of the elements should also be familiar since Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice borrowed many legendary parts.
Even thought it may be a dense read, buckle yourself in for Frank Miller’s trademark storytelling style. You will not regret taking this gateway to the dark world of Batman.
Now if you’re so curious about these books after reading this, we have provided Amazon link in above so that you may pick them up today!
There you have it, our gateways to the wonderful word of comic books. What do you think of our selections? What books would you give to someone as an introduction to the medium? Let us know in the comments below!