Comics: A Guide

[fa icon="calendar"] Jan 5, 2018 10:00:00 AM / by Suzanne

Hello! Welcome to the first post in a nine (I think) part series about getting started with comics. We'll be talking about comics as a whole, but giving examples that are romance or LGBTQ+ adjacent. We'll talk about a whole bunch of different things, all of which I've outlined below. We hope you love it!

Reading comics is fun. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have built a site dedicated to a genre of comics, after all. Getting into comics can be intimidating, however. There’s a lot of misinformation out there due to the prevalence of superheroes and an aggressive fandom surrounding those particular franchises.

We aren’t taught to read comics in school, as we are with prose and poetry. Most of us aren’t exposed to comics in our households as with movies and tv shows. Until the man I was dating introduced me to THE SANDMAN, I thought comics were either superheroes or Calvin and Hobbes. (Reader, I married him.) The world of comics is so much bigger and better than I had ever imagined, though. There’s something for everyone, even romance readers. It’s just been harder to find.

Happily, all of this is changing. Librarians are adding graphic novels to their collections at an impressive rate. Graphic novels are one of the fastest growing sales categories in publishing. In the last couple of years, famous authors have tried out the medium, like Margaret Atwood, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Rainbow Rowell. Many classic and modern novels have been adapted to comic form, ranging from A WRINKLE IN TIME to THE BABYSITTERS CLUB, from THE DRESDEN FILES to PRIDE & PREJUDICE.

As with many art forms, comics have been used to tell stories of heartbreak, political strife, and social issues. Examples include MAUS, which covers the Holocaust, MARCH, which details Senator John Lewis’s experiences in the Civil Rights Movement, and PERSEPOLIS, about the Islamic Revolution in Iran. One creator, Gene Luen Yang, has written AMERICAN BORN CHINESE, a modern Chinese-American boy grappling with his identity, and BOXERS & SAINTS, which are about the Boxer Rebellion in China.

“But I’m here for the romance comics, Suzanne…” Yes, I’m getting there. Here’s the plan: we’ll be talking about comics in this series - reading them, buying them, finding them. As we go on this (super-fun, really pretty) journey together, I’m going to use examples of comics that I personally read and like, often with romantic or queer elements. Some of the issues I’ve encountered stem from my ambivalence about superhero comics and my fondness for content that hasn’t been coming from the Big 3 publishers (Marvel, DC, Image), so I’ll be addressing that directly and frequently.

When I started collecting questions and thinking critically about my own introduction to comics, I realized this would need to be a series, so that’s what I’ve put together. Each week, we’ll cover one of the topics below, before gathering them in one convenient location for all your proselytizing needs.

Part 1: An Introduction to Comics

What is a comic? What’s a graphic novel? What’s an issue? What’s manga? Key terminology.

Part 2: Comics Creation and Consumption

Process, creators, publishers. How to read comics and how creators consider readers in their processes.

Part 3: How Not to Go Broke Reading Comics

Comics are expensive! We’ll walk you through some ways to manage your reading on a budget and still support the creators you love.

Part 4: Starter Comics

A highly subjective listing of some comics, publishers, and artists to start with.

Part 5: Your Local Comic Shop

Learning to love your LCS, avoid the haters, and order comics.

Part 6: What Are All These New Distribution and Funding Channels?

Kickstarter, Patreon, Gumroad, and ComiXology Unlimited. How to navigate new-ish channels of distribution and funding.

Part 7: Dirty Comics

A guide to comics for the 18+ crowd, with an emphasis on sex-positive, LGBTQ+ and female-friendly content.

Part 8: Comics for Kids

AKA, what to buy your niece/nephew/child/local library to get kids reading.


If you have any questions, please feel free to send them to I’ll gather questions as we go and answer them at the end if they aren’t covered in a post. Happy reading!

Topics: comics guide