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How’s your comics diet?

by  in Comic News Comment
How’s your comics diet?

Remember when all there was to read was Marvel and DC Comics? OK, those days never really existed, but I would bet a significant majority of us at one time read comics exclusively, or almost exclusively, published by the so-called “Big Two.” Some of you may even do so now. If recent studies are any indication, that’s changing. A growing percentage of people have been buying more titles from Image Comics and other publishers.

How about you? How is your comics diet? Going by direct sales numbers, many of us still live off a primarily Marvel/DC superhero diet. But we all know there’s more out there. Maybe we read The Walking Dead or Saga too. Those are good reads, no doubt about it, and there’s more where those came from. Lots more. Just a casual look on this site or any comics site will reveal a growing number of books from other publishers are receiving more attention, more positive buzz from readers, more good reviews from critics, and more exciting announcements. So how to jump in?

We can’t buy everything because none of us is made of money. And why stop buying the comics we are enjoying just to try something we may or may not like? That would be silly. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get a side dish now and again, a sampler.

If you’ve always been curious to check out the rest of the comics world but have been overwhelmed how to do it, here’s one solution. I’ve been trying this out myself, and it’s a fun way to discover new favorites: If you’re like me, you’re on a strict comics budget. All it takes is one extra purchase at whatever frequency you choose — it can be weekly, monthly or even quarterly, if you really want to take it slow. Think of it as a shopping game. You just pick a track and pick one comic book or graphic novel from the publisher that catches your eye, and hopefully my mapped journey below of material to sample will lead to some new discoveries.

I’m not going to select specific titles, because everyone’s tastes vary, but I will narrow it down to a publisher or some kind of sub-group that you can focus on. When that publisher comes up, take a look at what it has put out recently. Flip through itsnewest releases at your local store. If your store doesn’t carry them, tip off the staff to what you’re doing and maybe they’ll recommend something and have it ordered by the time it comes up on your list. Or check out the publisher’s website or comiXology listing. Why am I breaking things up by publisher? This is somewhat arbitrary, but the simple fact is that most comic shops organize their store by publisher, and most of us still divide comics along those lines. It doesn’t really matter so much, the point is just to create a manageable subgroup of comics that you can peruse, and then pick one to try.

Earlier I mentioned a mapped journey. This is going to be structured for Marvel and DC readers, but if you only read shōnen manga or gag-a-day webcomics or some other narrow genre or format, the idea is similar and you could customize it for you. The idea is to start from your comfort zone and slowly expand out, while still reading the same comics you normally read and enjoy.


We’ll start with the most leisurely track. This means four times a year, you pick up an extra comic book or graphic novel. The exact dates don’t really matter, as long as you remember to do it every three months. Might want to put this in a calendar that will send you an auto-reminder because this will be real easy to forget once you re-enter real life.

If you picked this frequency, you either have a really tight budget or you are very hesitant about trying new things. Or both. Fair enough. Because of that, this will be as easy as possible. If you survive or even like it, think about upgrading to Monthly. Or you can go through it again with the next four from the Monthly track.

If you like Marvel and DC, you probably enjoy action/adventure stories of heroes set in a single universe. These four publishers offer that. Some titles cross over with each other, and some mostly do their own thing. They all read like superhero comics, or straight-up are superhero comics. In fact, you’ll recognize some of creators from superhero comics. Creators like Mark Waid, Chris Roberson, Matt Kindt, Peter Milligan, Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente are frequently doing what you love about their Marvel and DC work, and sometimes getting away with even more. As we progress, the publishers have more than one universe to choose from. Dynamite has its Gold Key characters, which make for a nice supplement to the Valiant Universe, or you can go with the Golden Age heroes line Project Superpowers, or the pulp heroes like The Shadow, Flash Gordon and Zorro. Dark Horse has the Hellboy universe, which is a nice sidestep from Dynamite’s pulp heroes, or you can stick with superheroes with their Project Black Sky line that includes Ghost and Captain Midnight. Then top it off with Image Comics, either with the Top Cow universe, or go more self-contained with Savage Dragon, Invincible or any number of others. Don’t feel restricted to the hero titles though. Anything by each publisher is fair game.

First Quarter: Valiant
Second Quarter: Dynamite
Third Quarter: Dark Horse
Fourth Quarter: Image


This track is for those of you a little more committed but without breaking the bank. Once a month, you’ll look for one extra book to add to your purchase. It might be a good idea to pick where in the month you’ll do it, like every first week of the month, but ultimately it’s up to you.

With 12 months to work with, there’s a chance to be a little more adventurous. If you really want to stick with the superhero genre, you could probably pull it off and find some really entertaining and unique takes on the capes and cowl concepts. Or you can wander off into thrillers, horror, drama, comedy. Perhaps you might want to go after specific creators you’ve always heard about. Yes, you’ll see I start with Marvel and DC. This is a nice toe-dipping exercise and also reinforces that this isn’t about dumping Marvel and DC. They have great stuff too. Here’s your chance to try a Marvel and DC title that you’ve heard is supposed to be good, but you’ve never gotten around to checking it out. Or check out that lower tier book you’ve always been curious about. Then we continue on like the Quarterly track and adding BOOM! Studios, IDW Publishing and Oni Press. We return to DC for its Vertigo imprint before getting a little advanced for the final two months with some manga.

Month 1: Marvel
Month 2: DC
Month 3: Valiant
Month 4: Dynamite
Month 5: Dark Horse
Month 6: Image
Month 7: BOOM!
Month 8: IDW
Month 9: Oni
Month 10: Vertigo
Month 11: Viz Media
Month 12: Kodansha


Welcome to expert level. You are ready to become a well-rounded comics reader in 52 weeks. Getting into the habit of picking up an extra book will be easy this way, but we are going to get to some decidedly small press publishers. So this might take some coordination with your comics shop, if they don’t stock them, or you can buy direct from the publisher.

With more time, we get to split off some imprints, letting us get even more focused. We start off more or less following the monthly track, adding in some bonus publishers along the way, like Top Cow and Aspen. Then we cross the pond for a couple weeks of Titan and Humanoids before circling back to Vertigo and Image for some more familiar comfort food. Manga is expanded and spread throughout the year as we make our way deep into more alternative and indie comix, where some real innovation is happening. But don’t be scared off, you’ll be eased into them by stops along the way with some kids and humor comics, graphic novels, and even online-only material. We finish it all off for some lighter material: minicomics and some free webcomics, and then a stop at the comics category at Kickstarter to buy yourself a surprise that will show up later.

Week 1: Marvel
Week 2: DC
Week 3: Valiant
Week 4: Dynamite
Week 5: Dark Horse
Week 6: Top Cow
Week 7: BOOM!
Week 8: Aspen
Week 9: IDW
Week 10: Oni
Week 11: Titan
Week 12: Humanoids
Week 13: Vertigo
Week 14: Image
Week 15: Viz Media
Week 16: Red 5
Week 17: Action Lab
Week 18: Monkeybrain
Week 19: Thrillbent
Week 20: Kodansha
Week 21: First Second
Week 22: Archaia
Week 23: Graphix
Week 24: Bongo
Week 25: Archie
Week 26: Papercutz
Week 27: Graphic Universe
Week 28: Vertical
Week 29: Pantheon
Week 30: Abrams ComicArts
Week 31: Hill and Wang
Week 32: NBM
Week 33: Drawn and Quarterly
Week 34: Top Shelf
Week 35: Fantagraphics
Week 36: Knockabout
Week 37: Alternative
Week 38: Selfmadehero
Week 39: AdHouse
Week 40: Blank Slate
Week 41: Conundrum
Week 42: Uncivilized
Week 43: Yen Press
Week 44: Koyama
Week 45: Nobrow
Week 46: Tinto
Week 47: Oily
Week 48: Sparkplug
Week 49: GEN
Week 50: Paper Rocket
Week 51: The Nib
Week 52: Kickstarter

There are probably hundreds of ways you could mix things up for yourself. If you want to spend more time exploring the catalog of a handful of publishers, you could rotate through them all year long. There are also a number of publishers, plus all of the self-publishing creators, that could easily be put in place instead. However you do it, you’re getting to read new comics you might not have ever gotten around to trying while adding some spice to your pull list.

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