Robot 6

The Fifth Color | The fight for your first comic

Sensational She-Hulk #1

This Threat Doesn't Always Work

If you’re reading this, you had a first comic.  You probably can even remember the issue number. Often times, just the words “first comic” automatically conjure up images and speech bubbles freshly discovered to new eyes.  Some of you may have liked your first comic, some of you may have had to read a couple before that shining moment of comic book glory arrived, but without a doubt, there’s always your first.

It’s odd to think, then, that there’s a segment of the pop culture populace that doesn’t really know how comics work.  It’s like being aware of a hit TV show for them; yeah, they heard the name or saw a commercial when watching Dancing With the Stars, but they don’t watch it.  Comic shop employees have probably heard the stupefied question, “They still make comic books?” on more than one occasion in a store that has comic books clearly on display.  They might even have “comic books” in the name of their establishment, leading me to wonder whether people have walked into shoe stores surprised that they still put laces on the things.  Still, they are out there: the new readers.  It’s a just and important cause to make sure you are “new reader friendly” in the industry, because no matter how much money movies bring in, comics are a steady serial income.  They are a unique staple of Americana in their own way, and it would be a sad day when you couldn’t read sequential pictures and words that tell a story on a monthly basis.

So let’s attract that new reader!  Let’s be new reader friendly!   I believe that children are our future, show them Spider-Man and let them lead the way!  But should we give them everything?  Should we be so reader-friendly that everyone who stuck with the Clone Saga and Chuck Austen’s X-Men be left in the cold for their dedication?  New isn’t always better, and a continual reboot of your product or characters may leave them kind of teflon-like, where no story sticks and all your attachment wipes clean with a #1 issue.

The mix is a difficult one to maintain.  Marvel wants to reboot the Ultimate line and, while I think it’s a fantastic idea considering what a mess Ultimatum made of that universe, I’m disappointed we even had to do that in the first place.  The Ultimates line used to be a gold standard (remember that?) calling attention to themselves with shiny gold covers and story starts for the new reader to jump in with in a fresh, modern universe.  I used to sell a lot of Ultimate Spider-Man comics as the “basic Spider-Man story” for young and old alike, but I can’t say I do that anymore.  I can’t say that the Ultimate comics are a great place for movie-goers to jump into the Marvel Universe, so I consider a reboot of these titles a healthy idea in the shadow of Marvel Studio’s success rate.  But how did we get here?  How did we come so far from where we started?  What is it about our medium of monthly serials that just sort of runs off the rails for new readers? Can we just get a comic where Spider-Man fights a guy and doesn’t require the commitment of a trade paperback to get started?

It’s a lot to ask the modern day comic writer.  Making sure people can’t wait to get your next issue helps pay the bills, so the extended storyline is important for business.  The Point One initiative (isn’t it kind of ha-ha ironic when Marvel calls their marketing points Initiatives?) was supposed to be the missing link between new reader and old reader by supplying both with new stories that were self-contained and fresh starts for fans.  By now, we’ve had a few of these issues come out and how close they get to what was promised is hit and miss.  Avengers #12.1 seemed out of place, as it certainly didn’t feel self-contained, while Thor #620.1 wasn’t even written by the regular series writer.  Sure, now I see it as an interesting herald of Fear Itself, what with the Grey Gargoyle and the Asgardians, but then it seemed off balance from the rest of the series.  It almost seemed to please neither new fan or old, as new fans had no idea what to expect from Point One issue to the next, and old readers felt pressured to buy another issue.  Good idea, inconsistent execution that continues to make no sense as #0.1 issues of Alpha Flight or Ghost Rider seem ridiculous.  Maybe my math is wrong, but #1 has always been a fine promotion to new readers that gets far more attention than a Point One comics.  Will new readers need to get both to survive? If we’re going to make “new reader books” stand out on the shelves, we have to make it as hand-holdingly simple as possible.

X-Men #24

For the Love of Jackets

Or do we?  Let’s face front, True Believers, my first comic was X-Men #24. This is a whole lot of pages where people came in and out of rooms and talked a lot about things that had happened than were actually happening.  Mind you, there was some perfect ’90s character moments to chew on: Rogue’s push-pull relationship with Gambit, Jubilee crying over a Bamf doll, Psylocke and Revanche bitchin’ at one another in sexy poses.  This wasn’t a self-contained story, it was a moment for two ships to pass in the night and talk about their cargo.  The previous plot du jour was Illyana Rasputin’s death in Uncanny X-Men #303 and the next plot coming was not just Jean and Scott’s ill-fated wedding, but the Fatal Attractions storyline in all it’s holographic cover goodness.  X-Men #24 references issues long past and even other books to tie the characters together in this thick continuity rope.

You would think this would be impenetrable for the new reader, that all this exposition and posturing might not excite me like a splash page of mutant powers flying around, but I had two things going for me:  first, I watched the ’90s X-Men cartoon show.  Yes, looking back on it now, it’s terrible.  But watching it then, it gave a plethora of 30-minute episodes to explain the basics of the characters and how they work.  Xavier is a teacher, Scott is the leader, Storm is melodramatic and Rogue has the best southern accent I had ever heard and a touching human story to boot.  Now, if I wanted to go read more about Rogue when she wasn’t smashing her way through my Saturday morning cartoons on Fox, I could walk down to my local comic shop and find one that had her in it.  I picked X-Men #24 because it as the newest, and it had Rogue on the cover.  The second thing I had going for me at the time I purchased X-Men #24 was editor’s notes; an asterisk noted in a speech bubble or a narration text would lead me to the little yellow boxes smushed into a panel that would tell me things like “Translated from Japanese” or “previously in Uncanny X-Men #303” or other such notes that would fill me in on what they’d be up to.  This led to a lot of back-issue diving, one of my greatest pleasures then and now.  It was rewarding detective work that got you this great giant picture that was comic books, and you worked for it.  You took the comic down to the shop and asked for the issues mentioned.  You flicked through back-issue boxes like record stacks and counted toward the next clue in your mutant drama.  You went to conventions and attained life-long dreams of owning that That One Comic Where _____.

Sadly, back issues aren’t as widespread as they used to be.  A lot of issues have been tossed, understocked or uncared for.  However, there will always be trade paperbacks because the modern and hip House of Ideas’s brand-new sexy foundation is built on them.  Waiting for the trade is now something you can do, like waiting for a stew to simmer on a stove until it’s ready.  Trades are, indeed, comfort food as they save you from frantically collecting and lamenting over lost issues and keep everything you need to know in a classy and contained bound form.

I think what I’m getting at is that comics are already reader-friendly, no matter what number is on the cover.  There are ways for people to find out about Spider-Man and Wolverine and the Hulk generally through the media.  Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is an awesome cartoon that shows off so many fantastic characters each episode.  The trick is that, when kids or adults see the movie or cartoon, that it captures something in their brains and doesn’t let go until they are standing in a comic shop.  That we motivate the reader to do the dirtiest of work because it’s so rewarding in the end.  Sure, the industry could stand to lighten up some and make sure that comics are clear about their story’s place and time and, oh perhaps they could find a way for single issues to be a better recommendation to new readers than trade paperbacks, but that’s probably a whole other issue.

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My first comics were TMNT Adventures #5 and #8. I had just gone to see the first TMNT movie with my older brother and there was a comic shop a few door down. They had a whole heap near the front counter – and I didn’t know to look for issue numbers I just grabbed 2 and my brother brought them for me because I loved the Turtles! haha… ;)

My first comic was JLA #51… part one of the JLA ID storyline. I think after I had purchased a few JLA, I pretty much just spent all of my allowances on JLA TPBs (Morrison’s run) then I found Kingdom Come, then COIE… I’ve been buying this stuff ever since.

My first comic was Uncanny X-Men #170. My Dad bought it to keep me occupied as we drove from Virginia to D.C. on a day trip for him to re-enlist in the Navy. I STILL have that comic to this day! Paul Smith is one of my favorite artists of all time. It had Jean Grey slitting the throat of Mystique; Colossus turning into steel and snapping his restraints; Nightcrawler “bamfing” Callisto into submission; Callisto fawning over a practically-nude Angel tied to a cross; Cyclops zapping a hole in the middle of a quarter in front of a Jean Grey clone (Madelyne Pryor). It contains some of the best action, drama, and characterization of any series’ run in history. I was hooked from day one!

The old Marvel Transformers #5 (1985) — the first continuing issue after the “miniseries” of #1-4, and a shocking book for a five-year old to read, with all the Autobots seemingly dead and Optimus Prime reduced to a disembodied head; but what a reason for me to keep read!

My first comicS I got in the late 90′s (I was 7 at the time): Green Lantern (vol. 3) #54? (1994), the Zero Hour tie-in where at the end of the issue he meets up with Superman and Metron; Batman Adventures (based on the cartoon) #16 (1994), where the Joker kidnaps a young comic book artist; and, admittingly, Catwoman #44 (1997), though I have no idea why.

It’s like I brought up in the responses to the article about the Thor movie’s impact on new readers. They should put a small, short disclaimer before or after the movie that says something like “For more information about the characters depicted in this film, visit your local comic book retailer, bookstore, or (insert DC or Marvel’s website here).com”. It’d bring in plenty of new readers by encouraging them to seek out information.

My first comic was Marvel’s Star Wars #21. I’d previously avoided the book because it looked silly (thus missing out on the awesomeness of GIANT GREEN STAR WARS RABBIT) but I picked it up because it had Vader on the cover. Yep, media tie-in comics were my gateway.

Agree completely with Acer above, except to add: trying to pick up the current issues of Thor or Iron Man or Captain America (or, FF, Spider-Man, etc.) would be truly confusing and probably off-putting for a fan. Why not a imprint line of “Marvel Movie Hero Comics”? Stories that follow the movie continuities and likenesses. Iron Man did this in its main book around the first film (even going so far as to have photo covers from the movie on some issues). Why not make that a new fan’s gateway comic? Make them GOOD, like Paul Tobin’s Marvel Adventures for young readers, and even fans who have been following the characters will probably want to pick them up.

The first comic I read was DC’s Tarzan #214, a back issue given to me by my grandfather. Although it’s not as prevalent today, I still like the jungle genre, and I was fortunate to pick up the complete run of DC’s Tarzan a few years ago.

I think my first comic was a Woody the Woodpecker and Friends comic from the late 80s/early 90s. I got it when we were moving when I was 4 years old. My first comic I loved was one of the Calvin and Hobbes books. Maybe the Authoritative? Who knows.

First comic I remember reading? KAMANDI #21. Melted my brain. I didn’t read anything for a long time after that.

First comic that led me to reading other comics? ORIGINS OF MARVEL COMICS, a trade. In 1979.

First single issue comic that led to me reading other single issue comics? MICRONAUTS #20.

It was easy to get into comics back then. Back issues, editorial mandates, comics in supermarkets and corner stores (pre DM, or very early days.) Low bar for entry. Things are not the same now.

I can’t remember my first actual comic; I have been reading them as far as I can recall. I DO remember my first comics in English, though (the rest were Mexican translations of American comics such as Uncle Scrooge; curiously, for some reason Marvel comics were not available here in Spanish, but DC’s were.)

So the first “real” comic book I saw was a Spider-Man one where Doctor Octopus kidnapped Aunt May (most likely a reprint.) I saw it on a store while visiting a shopping mall with my family. I SO wanted to buy it, but I couldn’t read English at the time, so what would be the point? So I left it at the store. I assumed that would be the last time I would find comics in English.

But shortly afterwards, I walked into a drugstore after school with a friend- and there, laying in a stack (not even displayed on a rack) was a bunch of comics for sale- all in English! Again I browsed them, but again, I decided it wasn’t worth my money to buy them.

But the idea just wouldn’t leave my mind, especially since there were comics featuring Marvel characters there. Also, I realized that these were the ‘originals’ and the stuff I had been reading was about a year behind, if not more. I kept visiting the store at any excuse just to browse them… and finally I gave up, and bought my first comic book in English: Super Friends #10. It had such a great concept- The League vs Movie Monsters like Dracula!- I just HAD to own it, language be damned!! :P I then proceeded to read it with help from a Dictionary. It was a LOT of fun for a kid, especially given that (spoilers!!) the “monsters” turned out to be alien superheroes! Whoa! (the ‘Friends comics were, in general, much better than the show.)

But I thought that was going to be it. I wasn’t planning on buying those comics regularly, especially since I still had difficulty reading them.

…But I kept going to that drugstore. And browsing the comics. And seeing lots of characters I never even knew about, and I just knew I was missing out on a lot of good stuff. So, slowly at first, I started buying comics that I felt were “special” but soon I was buying them every week, spending my lunch money on them. Hey, it was worth it to go hungry for one afternoon to get those comics. :) And they helped me to learn English, too.

I still have that Super Friends comic, btw.

I think my first comic that I bought myself was the issue of the hulk where he fights xfactor. It blew me away. I remember not long after I bought it I literally found another copy of it on the street. Remember when Comics were cheap enough you could stometimes get free handme downs from your friends/family? Sigh.

Not too sure, but I’m pretty sure my first comic was either Marvel’s original Transformers series (probably #3, with Spider-man), or a He-Man comic that came with the action figures.

The funny thing is my first comic was Jim Lee’s X-Men #1 (as far as comic I bought myself by skipping lunch), and I read through it like 20 times. The way he drew Wolverine was amazing to me. It immediately made Wolverine my favorite character, and I’ve been collecting ever since.

Robin II: The Joker’s Wild #1. My friend, who was already a comics reader and always trying to to sell me on them, gave it to me for my birthday. Needless to say, it worked. Contrary to today’s intuitive, conventional wisdom, the fact that Tim Drake was NOT the Robin I knew from the 60′s TV show actually piqued my interest. I loved the idea that there was a Robin legacy, and that the second one had apparently been killed on the job only made the job sexier. I related to the fact that Tim wasn’t the natural that Dick Grayson seemed to be. And that he got the job by being a fan of Batman and Robin first and foremost was wish-fulfillment of the highest order. That he had the stones to take on the Joker (whose aura from the ’89 Burton-film was only bolstered when I learned that he’d murdered Tim’s predecessor) one-on-one sealed the perfect comics storm for my young mind. That, and his awesome costume redesign, particularly the tabi ninja-boots (don’t ask me why, I was 10). I just had to get the rest of the mini-series and find out what happened next. By the time “Knightfall” came around, it was all over for me.

My first comic was Superman Meets The Quik Bunny which was midly entertaining because I was four. Comics have only gotten better since but I still have a hard time taking Superman seriously to this day and this comic might be why.

Yes, any comic is a good jumping on point but for whom? For someone who has a lot of time and non-essential money to spend hunting back issues and also a dedication based in childlike fervor, researching and jumping head first into the world of comic book characters might be a blast. But those kids are playing video games and simply don’t care about comics. Comics published today are sold to aging men who grew up in this environment or to no one at all. The notion that you can get kids to read comics by renumbering or starting a fresh storyline or even starting a fresh imprint is preposterous… firstly, because, like I said, kids aren’t even interested in comics to do the digging and secondly, comics are not sold in venues they care to shop at. Comics are solid in speciality stores and, in the near future, nowhere at all in paper form, resulting in a world where who’s buying and how much you’re selling is determined by who can easily get their hands on it.

My first comic was the Marvel adaptation of Return of the Jedi that my father brought home for me with other Star Wars stuff. The first comics I remember picking out for myself were Uncanny X-Men #209 and Dreadstar & Company #6. The X-Men comic was alright, but I never really became a big fan of the franchise. Dreadstar, on the other hand, blew my mind. I was 8 years old and immediately more interested in the Epic comics line than I was in the main Marvel line.

Over the years, I certainly found more than my share of superhero books to enjoy, but the one-two of Star Wars and Dreadstar were the comics that first hooked me on the medium. I wish the larger publishers offered more non-superhero material that you could show a kid these days.

I was first introduced to comics as a kid by reading my dad’s Phantom comics. Great black and white, done-in-one stories.

The first book I bought for myself was Transformers #35, because the sight of Bruticas using a train as a bullwhip to smack the crap out of Defensor looked pretty damn cool. It wasn’t long after this that I started to collect the series, and it was because of the ads in the book that I began to know of the other titles published by Marvel.

So when Avengers #329 came out, I was intrigued by all these colourful characters standing around a large conference table, eating pizza and burgers and drinking stale coffee. Most of the male characters had 3-day growth beards and they were discussing the finer points of a UN charter. Pretty dry stuff, but as the issue progressed, we get to see two new members join the team, Rage and Sandman. That’s right, a member of Spider-Man’s rouges gallery was joining a long standing super-hero team. Then the ending of the issue, a terrific cliffhanger with the main team being zapped away by some random cosmic enitty.

I now have an Avengers collection that spans all the way back to issue#101 and includes every issue of West Coast, Spotlight, Unplugged, Reborn and Force Works.

I actually got into comics originally from the Marvel trading cards from ’89 or ’90 (so I would have been 7). After collecting the series I went to a comic store around my home and picked up an issue of Ghost Rider, I don’t remember the # (I don’t have the comic anymore) but it had just the flaming skull on the cover and it looked so cool. It was a self-contained story about a crooked preacher or something, I read it over and over again. I remember it being so dark and cool. I loved it cause I had gotten onto the book when it was still starting and the story didn’t need any prior knowledge and it was done in one comic, I didn’t know that would end up becoming a novelty.

When I was young I didn’t like the idea of jumping into a book with too much history, I liked the idea of Thor, Daredevil and so many others but when you’re looking at a book in the 200s I figured I’d want to get everything prior and would probably miss out on some of the story. Seeing as I only got a $5 a week allowance plus I still liked collecting hockey cards and would rent Nintendo games as often as I could, extra comic money was out of the question. I’d typically get one comic a week of what I was following (Spawn, Ghost Rider, and a couple others) but I couldn’t expand without killing my budget or jumping into something I was practically afraid of.

I got out of comics around ’95 or so, eventually I only followed Spawn and becoming a teenager I had other things I wanted to spend money on… plus I would get into music quite heavily so I dropped comics for a long, long time. I got back in last year when, after my wife had moved to Canada to live with me, we stopped at Starbuck’s and I remembered the comic store across the street I used to go to with friends. I ended up picking up a bunch of Amory Wars stuff (cause it was tied into music I liked) but found most other stuff daunting to try and get into. After a month or two I tried the Thor: For Asgard miniseries since I wouldn’t feel like I had the historical baggage and now I’m into lots of different comics BUT I’ve also invested a lot of time and money into trying to “catch up”. From jumping into the Batman Reborn saga when it was nearly over to getting into The Boys at issue 47 comics are a big investment, choosing a series that’s not starting with #1 there’s a lot of baggage to catch up on. I’m lucky in that I have a fair amount of extra cash left over at the end but if I was a kid or had a flashier lifestyle I’d probably only be into a handful of the comics I’m into now.

i think my first comic i bought was avengers acadamy #8 which i still havebut the first comic i read was the ultmates.

My first comic was The Titans black and white British weekly in 1975 which my brother brought for me when I was 10,and I’m still reading them now at 46.
Maybe we would get more people reading comics if the powers that be just published their ongoing monthly’s and stopped putting out so many mini series,one shots and event comic after event comic.
Comic’s just seem to be all over the place at the moment so how can new readers just jump in without having to dig around for a load of back history to understand what their reading.
Maybe it’s just me but I long for the old days when it was just good ongoing monthly comics with good stories and good art.

My first is the Whitman printing of Superman vs. Ali

wish I still had it…

My students are required to bring in a comic that they read once a week, and any time one of them brings in a floppy they know to answer the question “if this were someone’s first comic, or first taste of this title, would it make sense?” Sadly, the answer is often no. One student decided to try the Captain America .1 issue as her first superhero comic, and explained the many, many things it did that made it impossible for her to understand what’s going on. The hope is that when they start making their comics they’ll always keep this at the forefront of their minds.

The Big Two have a number of writers who are genuinely great about this – Jeff Parker is, in my opinion, at the top of the list. But too often writers, including people who had once been really, really good writers, are lazy. That’s what it amounts to – if an issue can’t be read by a new reader without having read what has come before (miniseries being the exception), the writer is either lazy or lousy at his or her craft. It’s a requirement of the serialized medium, and one all too often considered unimportant. Is it harder? Of course. But it’s part of the job.

Dark Leviathan

May 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm

The first comic I remember seeing was some JLA comic, but the first one I really read was probably Detective Comics #636. I received that, some 90s Superman comic and a 90s Spider-Man comic from my uncle while at camp. Though they were a decade old by the time I read them, they still interested me a lot. Then I received Fantastic Firsts for my birthday from that same uncle, which really got me into comics, acting as a perfect introduction to the Marvel universe. When I started reading and collecting, I was only into older comics, but I eventually got into new ones.

Why does first comic have to mean superhero comic?

Star Wars #38. Michael Golden art. It got me majorly inrto comics and I was soon hunting down back issues of Micronauts.

Brian

Mr. Pants,

I think the context of the article is leading to comic books because of how they used to be new reader friendly, and now so rarely are. For many people, I think, strips were the first comics actually read.

I don’t remember the exact issue numbers without going and pulling the books out of storage, but it was a pre-crisis Superman where Superman “hid” his costume but shrinking it down and storing it in his mouth. there was also a Superboy comic that the cover showed Superboy throwing a stick into the lake, and Krypto coming out with a whole tree in his mouth.

What I find kind of amazing is how many of the above post are “media” tie-ins such as Star Wars or Transformers. When I worked FT at the comic store, we had a similar discussion, and even then I was amazed at how many people started reading comics based on Transformers, Star Wars, or G.I.Joe. I think the old rules of advertising comics during Saturday Morning cartoons brought in a lot of readers in the 80′s.

Apollokid9000

May 29, 2011 at 10:44 am

Comics biggest question, how to get new readers.
The comic companies can start by doing this, try selling your comics to the general public. The fact that comics are generally only sold at comic shops, book stores and ( just recently) online automatically means a small market. The number of an issue is barely a concern to a potential customer. You know who really pays attention to the numbering of an issue? Current, knowledgable fans.

The superhero comic is the top genre in the current US comic industry. Fact. One current and non readers are asked about what a comic is, many will say a superhero story in a slim book format. The reason for that is that the general public has only been sold superhero comics. Whenever I’m @ the supermarket I wonder why there’s not a single spot of the magazine racks at the check out lanes holds a comic. The arguement against having comics in the supermarket is the simple: they don’t sell. Perhaps the reason for that is what comics they’re trying to sell.

Instead of letting the Avengers Earths’ Mightiest Heroes comic get hurried under the piles of Fear Itself, Thor and Cap minis, why not put them out in plain sight of not only the children that might watch the show but also the parents who pay the cable bill that allows them to watch the show. Instead of throwing the much beloved Thor The Mighty Avenger into the sea of other Thor minis, why not let it stand out on the bland, tabloid infested mag racks where by simply being the bright, vibrant comic book that it is it might capture the eye of a restless young child who’s a bit cranky and tried of riding in a shopping cart.

Newspapers are the wise but aged grandparents currently get comfortable in hospice that is the hands of their trusting readers. Many people pull out their phones, at any given time and place, to get updates ( not the whole story) on the goings on of the world. People probably look at the screen for online search engines more than they see the faces of their friend and fam.

The current readership voices annoyance with the padding of some comics. The reprints, the back ups and the like that really only serve to make the book reach its 32 pages of story quota. Why not put these short intrusions online ( yes, for free) on the homepage of say Google News. Remember when Google had superhero styled fonts on the Google logo? Perhaps they could’ve had an Avengers themed one with quick links to The Oral History of The Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis. With the link is said oral history of the team and a preview of the next or current issue of The Avengers line of comics, a listing of all the current volumes of the Avengers line of comics in hardcover and paperback as well as those issues available on the Marvel Comics app, and a local
comic shop locator for the user to find where the can buy the comics. Addtional links can be for the hardcovers and paperbacks on Amazon.com with prices noted.

The number on the cover of comic any customer, die hard or potential, is most concerned with is the price.

My first comic was something in my older brother’s collection, may a Korvac Saga era Avengers or a Marvel Treasury Edition of Star Wars. The first comic that I bought strictly for myself was G.I. Joe #1 at a drug store thanks to the Marvel Comics commercials. Then I found out they had toys!

Pretty sure my first comic was Incredible Hulk #287, which opened in as In Media Res as you could get: the Hulk had just returned from the future with the dead body of a soldier he’d be fighting with. I was a little confused, but not so confused that I didn’t enjoy the comics. But then, I wasn’t walking into the middle of a multi-part crossover with a backlog of history; I was just seeing the tail end of the last issue.

Classic X-Men #24. Reprinting the X-Men’s first adventure in Japan.

There was a lot going on in that issue, backstory wise. Who were these people that they had left for dead? Jean & Hank? Sunfire shows up and knows everyone…and who’s this white guy with the dragon tattoo? Iron Fist? Wha? Mandroids? They fought the Avengers? Who? I was something like 7 or 8 when I read this and I wanted to know the answers to all of those questions.

I think the problem is that the new readers that they bring in these days are going to want to know all of those answers RIGHT NOW and not have to scour through 40 or 50 years worth of back issues to get the answers. I did want to scour those back issues and I am sure that one or two new readers will as well…but not everyone.

I still remember my cousin steve giving me a handful of comics when i was a little kid. there was some superman that did nothing for me and daredevil #169. Bullseye had gone crazy and was seeing everybody as daredevil and was killing random people on the street. daredevil beats the shit out of him and has a crises of conscience on whether to leave him to die on the subway tracks. and it was the christmas issue. frank miller hooked me for life at age eight

Comic books were always part of my media landscape, so I can’t tell you what the first one I read was, much as how I couldn’t identify the first TV show I ever watched or first book read or movie seen, unless there’s some qualifier, like, “first episode of Star Trek seen” or “first paperback novel” or “first movie seen in a theater.”

The first comic book I ever bought was Uncanny X-Men #304, though I can’t tell you why I decided to start buying them at that point after months of reading them in the store. I read a few pages and it looked interesting enough to buy, I suppose.

And yes, I watched the X-Men cartoon too. That show was good for getting kids into comics.

thejohnscarff

June 1, 2011 at 9:41 am

I’m not ashamed to admit my first purchase was X-Force Vol.1 #1. I’m not ashamed because it led to me amassing all 100 issues of New Mutants. I miss the old “*as seen in” boxes and footnotes.

My first comic was a Teen Titans Spotlight on Beast Boy and a random issue of Avengers West Coast where they fought a giant lion man thing. I fell in love with the Titans and began to collect the book, I sold them when times got hard. I do have a very extensive Avengers collection though, everything from 80 on and some random 60′s 70′s. So I guess they did impact me greatly.

Not great books I know, but now comics are important things in my life. I ran a shop for a few years before gas prices made me put it on hold. I think reading these books at a young age helped me to read much better than the other children in my class and helped me through some tough times. I remember most reading Static when I was younger and thinking about how my life wasn’t that bad, that book made a huge impact on my life. Lobo and Green Lantern (Guy Gardner Version) have always helped me feel better, the crazy douchebaggery that they commit is epic.

Alas, my first issue was Amazing Spider-Man #374, featuring beautiful 90′s art by Mark Bagley. After that, I picked up Amazing Spider-Man #595 (American Son), which is such a fantastic story. And thus, I was hooked. Whats strange is that I tried to penetrate DC in the same way for a couple of years with various titles and totally failed. I tried Superman/Batman, I figured, “It’s Superman and Batman! This is gonna be awesome!” It wasn’t. It was terrible. I was really into Arkham Asylum the game, so I tried Batman #655. I hated that too. I was basically one of those people they make all the terrible movie tie-in comics and stuff for. I wanted to read comics about Arkham Asylum Batman and thats it. In retrospect, Grant Morrison’s Batman is fantastic and some of my favorite comics ever, but it was way too much to handle for a new reader, which is probably some of the alure of Morrison. I only broke into DC after I started reading Green Lantern with #1. Along the way, I was introduced to Superman, Batman, and many other lovable DC characters, whose titles I picked up.

My first comic was What If…? #24 What if Wolverine was Lord of the Vampires. Was my first intro to Wolverine and the X-Men. But i really screwed me up when I started reading the regular X-Men comic and didn’t realize at first that the What If…? comics were not part of the comic and I was disappointed that Wolverine wasn’t a vampire. LOL

I agree. I remember when I was a teenager and hadn’t picked up a comic since I was in grade school (oh, and by the way, the earliest comics I can remember owning were Invaders comics and the classic Kirby Captain America & Falcon from 1976 where Cap goes blind and his eyelids resemble raisins and his costume of choice was blue striped pajamas)…I remember my motivation for wanting to pick up a comic again after abandoning them in my childhood was simple: “I wonder what ol’ Spidey is up to? What do the X-Men look like these days?” I didn’t want a jumping-on point. I wanted to check in with them, see what was going on in their worlds these days. It was kind of comforting to know I could pick up an issue and know they were in the middle of their lives and battles. I think there’s a worth to that, especially among wavering comic fans. We don’t need to be marketed to…we just need to know our favorite characters are THERE, doing their thing. Good writing and memorable art are more important than a mountain of #1s.

It was Amazing Spider-man 30th anniversary special . When I think back to it now, it was kind of dark (for a 2nd grader) it had the Lizard hunting his son. It also had a Spider-man 2099 preview. It might still be around my house somewhere in really bad condition.

My first comic was a Spidey Super Stories based on the shorts that they ran on the Electric Company back in the day. He was fighting the Beetle (back when the Beetle’s helmet looked like a trash can with bug eyes on it). I thought that it was cool that I was reading something that was tied into something that I watched after school. Haven’t looked back since…

My first comic was Avengers #114…I’ll never forget opening up to Wanda/the Scarlet Witch standing in a window of Avengers Mansion….sadly none of today’s comics will ever reach over issue #100 again.

X-Men #134, with our heroes facing off against the Hellfire Club. … A few days later I came back to the grocery store to grab #133 (Wolvie on the cover against H.C. minions) off the stand before they replaced it.

My first comics experience was Uncanny X-Men #255. On the face of it, this would seem to be completely impenetrable but Claremont does a good job with all his classic excess verbiage of explaining the situation. The X-Men are presumed dead, the story (to me as a 10 year old) was pretty terrifying with the Reavers and Lady Deathstrike, but I was hooked with the mission of Forge and Banshee, which was supremely compelling. There was no ‘previously on X-Men’ intro page back then. I picked it up in an English newsagent, so choice was extremely limited. I had heard of the X-Men through the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends cartoon, but none of them appear here!! Only Polaris briefly shows up, and Storm is a terrified little kid on the run from the Shadow King! Amazing.
I should state that prior to this I read Marvel UK Transformers and Thundercats comics for several years, so comics as a medium weren’t totally new.

My first comic was the British Planet of the Apes #1, back in something like 1973. Back up strips in the comic like Wally Wood on Dr Doom and Barry Smith on Ka-Zar introduced me to the Marvel Universe and I graduated first to British superhero reprints and then to American comics proper. They were cheap and available in newsagents – roughly the price of a chocolate bar.

If they hadn’t been cheap and readily available, i wouldn’t have started on a hobby that’s lasted over 35 years .I still love comics – I just won’t buy them at these prices. I’ll wait until they’re sold off cheap at a comic mart or in long boxes at my nearest shop.

The reason for the decline in the industry are obvious to me. Comics are astonishingly poor value for money at these stupid prices – and they’re only sold in specialist outlets. Talk all you want about creative issues and accessability and reboots – it won’t matter a damn. Finding an attractive price point and getting comic books out into the big wide world – these are the keys to saving the industry we all want to see saved.

My first comic was the ‘THING’ #7 by John Byrne…actually my bro and I shared it when we were 8-9 yrs old. Being twins, my mom or dad would always buy us one thing and have us share it (kinda cute). So we took turns reading it. Both of us were instantly allured to the grissled and grimacing thing on the cover and two huge blue steel toed boots crushing him from the top. Even today the cover holds up as such a beautiful energetic cover. I remeber reading the enclosed story about how this criminal called ‘goody two shoes’ or someone like that gave the ‘The Thing’ a complete ass whupping that was unheard of in those days of comics. I still think the fight sequences plotted were some of the best I’ve ever seen by Byrne (he had a very different style younger)….battered and bruised, chasing the villain up the Empire State Building, destruction in its wake, the Thing finally raises the fallen villains shoes triumphant!!….BUT WHAT!?!? Next panel we see The thing jumping from his lounging position- HE was actually reading the same comic we were (He had crossed the third wall)!!!! And boy was he was PISSED OFF….he stomps over to the Fantastic Four and then to Marvel studios in his disgust, claining it had taken him all of two seconds to dispose of this Z-List villain the week before….while the editors stood there shaking and sweating in fear…truly memorable and fantastic issue. We were both hooked after that….no I look back and see that the cover stated “Its Assistant Editors Month…Dont Say We Didnt Warn You.”….hahaha. My brother and I had no idea of the inside joke or even what an Assistant Editor was at 8 years old…classic. The good ol days….I hold this comic really dear to me. This is what got me into comics for over 25 years now. Pick this up (its still very cheap as a back ish)….you wont be disappointed!

I’m proud to say my first comic was Ultimate Spider-Man, issue ten. However, this was an issue of the british publication (yep, I’m a UK fan) which combined two issues in one book, so I joined around halfway through the double trouble story arc. I loved how fresh it was and how it distilled spidey back to the basics, with brilliant art from Bagley. I really did jump start my love of comics, and it’s weird to think that I have so many trades now. I still follow USM, and I hope by the time Death of Spider-man comes over here the quality won’t have dropped one bit.

haha…uncanny x-men #281…turns out that was a pretty good point to jump onto comics…it’s one of the first few comics i bought that i still own and somehow pretty much perfect shape…

I grew up in the 70′s when you could find comic books in any grocery or drug store. I remember seeing them but never actually bought one till after my dad took me to see the original Star Wars. I then remember finding a Star Wars comic and that was the first comic book I bought. Issue # 3. I bought various random comics over the years, but never kept them. At age 12 I found Rom Spaceknight # 32 on the news stand and ever since that fateful issue I was hooked on comics. Been reading them ever since.

My first comic(s) were from one of those Marvel 3 packs, my dad got it for me while we were on vaction. the books were:
Hulk 294, Alpha Flight 49, and Power Pack 3
Don’t really remember any thing about the stories, I bought this pack because the Hulk issue was on top and I watched the TV show. It would be years later when I was in my teens before I bought other comics, But I still Have those three books they were just a little beat up.

My first comic was the first appearance of the JLofA in Brave & Bold #28 back in 1960. I kept that comic for many years, but, like most kids, when I went off to (art) college my mother took the opportunity to have a spring clean and my whole collection was either given away or binned. Thanks, mum.

Chris Schillig

June 4, 2011 at 10:43 am

I had a lot of the DC Tabloid editions as a young kid, but the first comics that ever made me really burn to get more — right away — were The Incredible Hulk #199 (a big Doc Sampson-Hulk battle issue) and a copy of Marvel Super-Heroes (#58, I think) that reprinted the Hulk’s battle with the Space Parasite. And I’ve never stopped.

Those days, it was hard to walk into a drug store or convenience store and NOT find a spinner rack of comics. These days, the only place I find comics is online, especially since my local source (a used-book store) stopped carrying them and my area comics shop (about 40 miles away, round trip) closed the doors. One of the reasons I buy Life with Archie is the sheer novelty of finding it at my local Walgreens each month.

My first comic was Yosemite Sam and Bugs Bunny #62 from Gold Key. I picked it out of a .25 bin at our local comics/baseball card shop. It was small potatoes compared to what I’d eventually get into.

There are no cheap comics or value-packs ready for impulse buys. That’s how I got my first exposure to comics — a $2 four-pak of Tom & Jerry, Woody Woodpecker and two of the craziest issues of The Atom.

I loved how comics didn’t care how ludicrous they were — if it made for a good story, they’d just go for it. So unlike the dadgum seriousness and ‘relevant’ style they’re stuck in this modern age.

I first picked up Ragman #2 at a secondhand bookstore back in the early 80s. Don’t ask me why I grabbed that one, I just did. I loved the old Saturday morning cartoons, and I guess they gravitated me towards comics. My dad used to read SGT Rock, Jonah Hex, and Conan, but they were a little too mature for me. Later on, I regularly picked up DC’s Who’s Who. That comic was the best bang for my buck, it was like reading 20 comics for the price of one. They also kept me caught up on the continuity of all the characters, without having to buy all the other titles. I also loved Marvel’s GI Joe comic, but my budget was pretty limited back then.

Uncanny X-men #286 with the sweet Archangel cover. Picked it up at a grocery store while my parents were shopping and I probably read it like 10 times before the day was over….

I know I read a lot of comics like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny that my aunts and uncles had when I was really little. The first comic of my own I remember having was the free giveaway Captain American and the Campbell Kids from 1980. The first comic I remember buying with my own money was DC Comics Presents #62 (Superman and the Freedom Fighters) in 1983. Both were stand alone, but being obsessed with Super Friends, Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman, Batman and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends on TV I had to have more and more.

After catching the cartoon most Saturday mornings, i found a copy of X-Men #28 at a K-Mart or Wal-Mart or something. It had all the characters from the cartoon but Wolverine (plus some chick with purple hair I didn’t recognize). The art was great (Andy Kubert had a great run on that title) there was a nice blend of melodrama that X-Men comics are known for and a big fight, with Jean Grey handling Sabretooth. But even though I was jumping into the middle of a storyline and after a few big crossovers, I could catch up with what was going on in that issue. Yeah it might be a little exposition heavy at times, but it made sense and kept me hooked. I re-read that thing so many times the staples wore out and the pages are now all held together with scotch tape.

My first comic was ‘TV Comic annual 1965′ a UK hardbound book. Still got it in a very tatty condition. Full of a lot of lovely UK TV related stories from the 60s.

My first US comic I remember purchasing was ‘Fantastic Four 132′ (and Sub-Mariner 59) off a spinner rack and they were total magic to me and I was hooked. Both issues have been read about 2000 times since then and so they are still in really good condition (not). Luckily those issues, unlike quite a few issues of the 70s, were not binned or given to the local fetes.

I owned a few comics before, but the comic that got me hooked was Transformers #50. After years of watching and being utterly bored with the cartoon, I picked up that comic on a whim and opened it up to the page where a superpowered Starscream grabs Bumblebee by the shoulders and literally shakes him to pieces like a shaken baby until he’s a pile of scrap on the ground. In that issue, Starscream just tears through a ton of Transformers. It was just the sort of thing I wanted to see because after years of watching kid friendly cartoons I was hungry for blood. Next I got the Death in the Family TPB where Jason Todd got killed. Then the issue of GIJOE where the Saw Viper executes a bunch of Joes. Good times…

So basically, I was a kid hungry for more violence and death from the characters I already loved. I wasn’t interested in any kind of “most recognizable version” of the characters I knew. I wanted to see what was different about the characters I knew from the crappy cartoons. I started reading Batman regularly during the fallout from Jason’s death. It wasn’t Batman fighting the Joker that got me hooked, it was sympathizing with Dick Grayson as he watched his father figure self destruct out of guilt and rage. And I’ve been reading Batman ever since. Almost 300 issues now.

June 1982 was a particularly good month. I bought 4 comics together. Amazing Spiderman 229, Fantastic Four 242, X-Men 158, and Contest of Champions 1. FF, & Contest had a wealth of characters I’ve never before known, and showcased a Universe of entertainment.

I received a ton of Disney comic books for Christmas one year. They didn’t do much for me. Safe to say there was not a Donald Duck or Scrooge McDuck in the batch.

My world turned, however, in third grade. We had an end of year auction where all the confiscated swag was auctioned off using monopoly money. We all had $100. The teacher held up Secret Wars #4 with that great cover of Hulk holding up a mountain and the rest of the Marvel heroes looking like they had just had their collective butts handed to them. It was like the clouds parted and angels sang. That book was mine…I don’t remember how much fake money I paid. It was great. I read and reread it. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know what happened before or after, either. I just made it up in my head. When I finally did track down the rest of Secret Wars it was almost a disappointment since it didn’t live up to what I had created.

And it wasn’t a very good “jumping on” point…

I left comics for about 15 years. When I returned my first comic was a trade. Ultimate Spider-Man.

Pleasantly surprised to see alot of you had your first comics in the mid to late 90′s…..I’m sorry most of the stuff was crap but you stuck to it!

My first comic I can remember was when I was about 8 or 9 and went to a used book store and they had tons of those DC and MArvel prebagged 3 packs of random books you would find in grocery stores.

It was the issue of Adventure Comics juuust before 500 (forget the exact number….still own it) where they reprinted the death of Lightning Lad. My mom picked me up some more digests next time she went cause I LOVED them. In 1 of those 3 packs I got a JLofA 200.

I didn’t start buying things religiously until 1987-88 when I snagged FF #320 (New Hulk vs New Thing) And I havn’t stopped since! 68 long boxes folks!

My first X-Men comics were the ones they gave away at Pizza Hut, but I think my first issue of the regular series was X-Men #32, which dealt with a lot of the aftermath of the Psylocke/Kwannon subplot. Not very accessible, not a lot of fight scenes, and yet, it didn’t scare me off. At that point, the X-Men Animated Series had me hooked to Marvel’s Merry Mutants; not even some crazy body-swapping stuff could scare me off!

That said, I didn’t become a regular buyer until ’98. Mom was against my comic book hobby for quite some time! :P

I’m not exactly sure what was my first comic. I may have had some of the X-Men Adventures books I got from an in-school present swap. It could’ve been a crappy Batman: Gothic book or the book that came with LEGO Pirates. It may have been something else I’d forgotten and lost completely.

The comic that made me fall in love with comics was purchased around that time. I was maybe six years old at a flea market in New Hampshire. I was a big fan of the Spider-Man and X-Men cartoon and Saturday morning was my favorite time of the week. I spent five dollars in quarters every week playing the X-Men Arcade game at the racetrack. But outside those two groups (and maybe Iron Man and Fantastic Four), I had no idea who anybody else in the Marvel Universe was. I may have even thought Batman and Superman were a part of it. No clue.

So I’m at this flea market and there’s a few stands selling off older comics. Though my memory is fuzzy, there might have even been an Amazing Fantasy #16 there (it wasn’t when I went back a second time). At one side of the field, there was this little old lady with a few books out. One of them completely blew me away from the cover. Alpha Flight #75. A random group of people surrounded by Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and the X-Men on the front and back pages. I was stunned. I had to buy it. It cost me 50 cents and was one of my favorite purchases ever. Inside, I was just taken in by the reality they were inhabited. There was a tall, bald guy who can make things appear out of nowhere. A giant hairy orange dude fought the Hulk. Tons of people flew around firing lasers at each other. The Thing got smashed into pieces. Rogue had this giant, giant hairdo I think only existed during Inferno. Wolverine looked demonic. Vision, Wonder Man, Captain America, She-Hulk, and Alpha Flight (plus Elvis and Santa Claus) were imprinted into my mind. The art was gorgeous, with great lines, panels, and the colors. Oh the colors. Everything was solid. I was very impressed by Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld and all their crazy cross-hatching as a kid, but then and now I appreciate how… kind of rustic the art was. It wasn’t new looking. It felt like something quaint, rural. Like a cabin in the woods sort of. Like Calvin & Hobbes landscapes, you know? Just really perfect. It’s like a Bob Ross show, but not the painting. Just Bob Ross doing the painting. It’s so simple, but so enticing and wonderful and real. I was in love. I had no idea who the Dreamqueen was, what they were doing there, who they were, who most of the heroes were, or how Wolverine ended up on fire, but it was awesome. Every page is ingrained into my memory.

Alpha Flight is still a book I have a huge soft spot for even though every other book I’ve read of theirs has drastically paled in comparison to #75. I still pick up almost every old issue I see when I go back up to New Hampshire. And it definitely sparked my interest in comics. I had over fifty by the end of the next year, mostly early ’90s Marvel, The Death and Returns of Superman, a bunch of post-Zero Hour #0s, and some really bad Green Lanterns that made me hate him (and all things cosmic) until I read Rebirth.

My first comic book was not a superhero book at all. It was the giant-sized version of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, as drawn by Jack Kirby, published by Marvel Comics (I think). My first was “Savage She-Hulk” #1. My first group book was X-Men #138, Vol. 1 (called “Elegy”, by Byrne and Claremont).

I’d like to see if there are actual figures on people being afraid of high numbers. Because we hear about all these new reader initiatives, and, yet, the majority of the readers or on the boards or at cons do not seem to be newbies, but rather longer (5 years plus) readers on average. One Year Later was supposed to be a huge brand new jumping on point post Infinite Crisis. What happened to all these new readers?

I personally had no trouble getting big numbers. My first issue of comics ever was Uncanny X-Men #210. I was just 32 a few weeks ago and bought that issue on the newsstand when it first came out, so it wasn’t like I was in my teens. Haven’t missed an issue since and even got back issues eventually. My first issue of collecting Batman regularly was Batman #608 when Loeb and Lee came on. My first issue of Superman was during the whole Panic in the Sky! arc.

New readers didn’t used to have problems, so why now? Especially with all of the wikis and sources to help them out?

And still for some reason, DC and Marvel seem to be under the impression that new readers are terrified of higher numbered books and reluctant to try them.

High numbers come with too much baggage and new readers will not be able to grasp them.

Really?

Because, again, my first comic was Uncanny X-Men #210. I was in GRADE SCHOOL, and understood it just fine.

And this was well before I had Wikipedia and message boards with fans to fill to me in on what I missed.

Considering that Uncanny X-Men #500 sold 151,955 copies in July of 08, and a brand new X-Men #1 sold 140,332 in July of 10, you do not necessary need to start from scratch to bring the fans.

And taking it further, the most current sales figures show BOTH titles in the 50-60k range, with that big scary Uncanny X-Men #535 outselling new and inviting X-Men #10 by over 6k.”

The reason we’re not getting new readers isn’t because of numbers, it’s because of higher costs and more alternatives–a 50 dollar game goes a lot further than a 1 issue comic usually in the middle of a huge overarching event. There have been jumping on points here and there, but, really, it’s the WRITER’S job to get people into it, instead of using the excuse that “these kids today just don’t get it.”

We got it back then, we get it now.

And if we’re all on the same page now, what about new readers in 5 years, if the sales come back to where we are now? What will the excuse be then? Or are we only concerned about new readers NOW. If the critical acclaim and success of comic movies like Iron Man, Thor, Dark Knight, etc. didn’t bring a huge influx of comic readers to stay, I hardly doubt this will be the long term solution.

And like I said elsewhere, what IS today’s audience? Will everyone speak in text? Or in Tweet form? Can Batman haz cheezberger?

I mean, the majority of today’s audience is NOT younger, so I’m unsure what they mean by being told for today’s audience, being as how TODAY’S AUDIENCE is US here being as how WE’RE the ones currently reading these books TODAY, and if they haven’t been being told for us all along, then who have they been being told for?! lol

And I wasn’t aware that after collecting since 1985, I was so out of touch and unable to identify with any of these characters to the point I needed help doing so.

It seems more they mean being told for WHAT WE HOPE WILL BE TOMORROW’S AUDIENCE as well as today’s. :-)

Oh well, it’s happening and nothing will change that, so the best I can do is just see what it looks like before making a final decision.

Maybe I’ll like, maybe I won’t, but I won’t know either way until I give it a try, right? And at least it’s a truly bold move, so I have to give credit for the attempt.

I’m not at all happy about the idea, but there have been some ideas I wasn’t crazy about at first that changed my opinion as I gave it a shot (such as Morrison on Batman, after I hated a lot of his X-Men for instance).

Being French-Canadian born in 1974, the first comics I was exposed to were actually bandes-dessinées: Asterix and Tintin! They are what I learn to read from with my sister and brother’s help, I already knew how to read and write before I ever went to school thanks to those books!

First ‘comic books’ I got were french black and white translations of Marvel books like Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron-Man and more that my brother was buying. I would mostly just browse them at first, I enjoyed the art and characters but they didnt really strike me to be as fascinating as the fancy Asterix hardcovers were. The first one I remember really reading was an issue of Thor where he fought Loki with Firelord as the referee!

A few years after the French translations had stopped some time after Secret Wars 2, I got back into it in 1990 when I finally had access to original English comics and comic book stores. It didnt take too long to catch up on where everything was up to at that point. And still reading to this day!

I think perhaps we should redefine what it means to be “new reader friendly.” How many people get hooked on soap operas? Those things never have proper beginnings. The story just keeps going with periodic recaps. People don’t need to be caught up at the beginning of the book–they need to be caught up by the end.

Incidentally, my first mainstream comic was Batman #497, halfway through the Knightfall story. I had no idea what had gone on when I started reading, but I knew everything I need to know by the end.

Fantastic to hear that I wasn’t the only one whose first comic was an issue of Marvel’s Transformers (mine was #8 – “Repeat Performance” with Ratchet and the Dinobots vs Megatron).

The debate of what consititues “New Reader Friendly” will rage for a while yet, methinks; while the focus of this article as been the machinations of the House of Ideas, I daresay that the upcoming universal reboot over at the (D)istinguiseed (C)ompetiion will probably see another reboot in Marvel? Sure, the Ultimates are getting a reboot, but haven’t they only ever been a 2000s Movie Fan’s version of the MU anyway? I’m talking about the real Marvel Universe; the one that Lee and Kirby and Ditko and the gang cobbled together back in the early 60s.

Personally, I would love to see a reboot of the Marvel Universe that completely retcons and wipes everything that has happened since the Scarlet Witch uttered those three little words that changed the universe forever; “No More Mutants”; Civil War, Secret Invasion, et al should be confined to the annals of history and shunted off into their own little pocket universe the way that Heroes Reborn was in the mid 90s. It’s 2011. It’s a half-century since four intrepid souls named Richards, Grimm and the siblings Storm jumped into their rocket ship and started an icon, it’s time to make the MU great again.

Stan “The Man” Lee once said that every comic book is potentially a reader’s first, but so much of Marvel’s offerings of late have been so impenetrable to new readers that they get really boring really quickly; a step backwards if only to shake off some of the hopelessly encrusted detritus might be in order to bring Marvel back to where it deserves to be.

@ Mr Chris

Personally if we are doing a Reboot of the Marvel Universe I’d want it way before the Witch said those 3 words. Main thing about doing a reboot is, every writer and editor have to be on the same page and knows what history is still intact… For example, if you reboot the Marvel line I’d want X-Men the way it was around Uncanny #176, or around the Jim Lee and Cris Claremont X-Men #1 with the Blue and Gold Teams. Avengers is pretty much fine the way it is now as each team fills its own niche on the threats they deal with. Marvel Cosmic is fine but would like Nova and the Guardians back. Abolish the Fantastic Four and actually have them start out as the Future Foundation straight from the get go. (Due to Certain upcoming legal issues they may end up doing this anyway).

But then again that’s just me.

My first two comics were The Incredible HULK #368, were a GREY Hulk ,( Grey?) ,battle Mr. Hyde. I knew the green Hulk from the Tv series and was intrigue by this grey hulk comic I found at a local drug store’s magazine rack.And the second comic I’d buy was New Mutans #87 (Cable’s first apperance). I buyit because a lot of my school buddies were into X-men comics and when I saw the cover of that comic, something drew me to it.

I have to agree with you (Carla Hoffman) because the moment I read those 2 comics, I was hooked and stared looking for back issues and it was a rewarding experience.
The thing that drove me away was all the 90′s and 2000′s crossovers and all the spin titles that were born of almost every characters of the Big Two. And all the reboot that made all of my heroes adventures look that never happen.
Now all Im collecting is the Green Lanterns Trades and Daredevil trades. I hope with the new rebooth of GL that it dosen’t drive me away.
I remember whe you can go to a supermarket or a drug store and go to the magazine racks and always you saw various comics. If the Big Two companies want to attrach new readers all they have to do is have comics back to regulars store’s shelves.

My first comic was X-Men Vs. Avengers #1. I was aware of the Marvel characters through cartoons/friends’ comics to a point; I remember where I was when my friend Stuart told me that Magneto was now the leader of the X-Men. My response: “Isn’t he the bad guy? I want to check this out”

I was instantly hooked. And even as an 11-12 year old, after reading many many comics very quickly, I knew that there was something horribly wrong with the fourth issue of X-Men vs. Avengers. Decades later I found out the story behind that ill-fated left turn.

Marvel did a smart thing around that time; there was a local small department store which sold 3-packs of recent back-issues (right around the 25th anniversary). Even in a small town, I was able to voraciously read stories like the Mutant Massacre when there was no LCS. I still have many of those comics, like FF #296 and X-Men #212. How could I ever forget that Art Adams cover with the brutal Wolverine/Sabertooth battle?

my first comic was believe it or not was the first issue of captain carrot and his zoo crew reading it in a barber shop and then the first issue of my favorite dc hero ragman who through his short lived series first got hooked and introduced to a certain dark knight dectective by the name of batman. and been hooked ever since. first marvel book think was the team up of spider man and cloak and dagger and punisher after the king pin.

My very first comic was X-Men #15, right in the middle of the X-Executioner’s Song storyline. I was familiar with comics at that point, but I hadn’t bought any yet. And I found this beat up copy of X-Men #15 in the auditorium of my middle school. Had no clue what was going on, but all the X-Teams fighting together against Stryfe and the MLF looked awesome. I’ve been an X-fan ever since.

I think my first comic buy was a Super Goof from Disney.
When I started collecting comics, I leaned toward Marvel, Their cartoons were so much cooler than DC’s, in the FF Reed and Sue were separated and Reed was turning his son (they had a son?) into a vegetable to save the universe. Spider-Man was grieving the death of Gwen (was she even in the cartoon?). And the Avengers were fighting with the Defenders (who?).
It was exciting and made me want to jump right in.
DC had no real continuity back then. I just picked up what ever looked OK, but there was no urge to get the next issue.
Now, if I want an X-Men, Avengers, or Spider-Man comic, first I have to decide which one of the 20 different versions to buy.
Do I want Avenger Wolverine? X-Man Wolverine? Killer Wolverine? Killer Avenger Wolverine? Killer X-Men Wolverine?
Do I want New Avengers, Mighty Avengers, or Secret Avengers?
Do I want happy, sad, black, white, or techno Spider-Man?
Can I get a book that doesn’t have Luke Cage in it?
I’m down to a handful of comics a month. Some Marvel, some DC, and some Indys.
There’s just too much crap that only seems to exist to hog shelf space. Pity the poor fool who wants to try comics for the first time.

Mine was Green Lantern Vol. 2 #164 “Green Lantern …The Barbarian!”

I loved the colours. Green has been my favourite ever since. Went on to read all of my Mums Disney and Phantom comics hidden in the ceiling. Now I’m getting my 12 month old the freebies from my LCS. He loves them. Tears them to pieces and looks at the pictures over and over. I am such a proud Dad.

I only got into comics last year so my first one was iZombie #1 which was, if i remember rightly, 80p. It was brilliant and it opened my eyes to comics which were beyond capes and cowls. Sadly however I only read until issue #5 and then just dropped it in favour of others. I will pick up the second trade when it comes out however.

Chris Schillig

June 5, 2011 at 7:03 am

And by “online,” I mean that I’m ordering physical copies through TFAW, not that I’ve gone all-digital (although I have thoughts about moving in that direction).

I had read comics when I was young – Superman, Legion of Super-Heroes, Super Powers, Metal Men – but even at a young age it felt like “kid stuff” that I couldn’t get into. (Save for the one issue of Teen Titans I got – where Trigon and Raven kill the whole team, that was a little too alarming for that age.) I went on to read Transformers and G.I. Joe, but as I grew out of the toys I grew out of those comics too.

The comic that hooked me well and truly was X-Factor #35. Yes, an early part of the “Inferno” crossover. Combine Simsonson art with characters that actually seemed to have personal motivations and stake, and very individual powers… and I was hooked. I read through Inferno and started picking up X-Men here and there too, but it didn’t hook me as much as X-Factor. Of course, once most of the writers and artists on those books jumped ship during the Image years, I did too… but the X-books were an intriguing cat’s cradle at the time. The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe was a big help in understanding the continuity, as was the Classic X-Men reprints, and the rest of my fandom is history.

My First comic was X-Men #1 by Jim Lee. My family and I were driving to Seattle to visit family and we heard a radio interview with some comic artist named Jim Lee and I had to have this comic, so after dropping off our luggage and saying hi to the family i pestered my dad to take be down to the nearest comic store and buy that issue. After that I bought a mail-in subscription to X-Men and Uncanny X-Men and I was hooked.

I always shake my head at all the whinging about comics being “new reader friendly” that goes on nowadays. I started reading comics in the mid-to-late 70s. There were only a few trade collections out at the time, and they were mostly origin stories and first appearances. Actual comic shops were scarce. I got all my comics from book stores or convenience stores, and they were very hit-and-miss. You could never rely on getting the next issue. So my early comic collecting was random to say the least. I dropped down in the middle of complicated storylines regularly, and there were cliffhangers that I didn’t see the end of for ten years or more.

I still loved them all. And I didn’t stop.

And that was *then*. Now, there is a colossal amount of reprint books on the shelves of every mainstream bookstore (you don’t even have to visit a comic shop). There are a multitude of sources for back issues and if you don’t want to buy them, you can just fill yourself in via Wikipedia or one of the many fan sites on the internet.

Yet people complain that comics aren’t accessible now. Are they serious?

Ok this is gonna make me sound old.(I am btw)..Hulk 3 (1st run) in 1968 from a market stall in London…I know this because my Mum never stopped yelling at my Dad for years about it ruining my education despite 43 yrs later having a phd…mums and comics..gotta love em hahaha

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

June 5, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Being born in ’83, I caught on to the TMNT craze, getting a couple of tv show tie-in comics here and there. But the comic book that really grabbed me, pulled me in and refused to let me go?

Uncanny X-Men #298

I was in first grade, and a friend of mine gave it to me to read on the school bus, and my life was forever changed. Yeah, that sounds overly dramatic, but it was. I was at the comic shop as soon and as often as my parents would take me, gobbling up back issues to learn more about the mutants that so captured my imagination (except when my LCS covered up the back issues on Saturdays so kids could play Magic: The Gathering. I HATED those kids…). I watched the animated series every week. I even got as many of those trading card series as I could (I have a bin filled with folders containing old Marvel trading cards. There’s no nostalgia rush like flipping through those albums. Let’s face it: Flair ’94 ROCKED.).

I collected like mad until just after Onslaught, when I didn’t have access to an LCS. It wasn’t until ’99 that I was able to get back in to comics, and I’ve never looked back. Good times…

I also grew up int he 70′s and my earliest comics came from the 3-packs at the grocery store.
My first 3 comics were all Superman, or maybe Action Comics, and all completely forgettable – tho one involved Vartox masquerading as Superman.

number 4 was from a different grocery store 3 pack: Peter Parker #27, by Frank Miller. THAT blew my mind.
Jumping into the middle of a Spider-man team up with some guy I’d never heard of named Daredevil, and a bad guy with a robot that turned into a flying bomb? I’m nine years old and New York City’s about to be blown up!

The stakes were different then, I guess.

All I remember about the other comics in that second 3-fer was one of them was an Iron Man early in what’s become known as the “Demon in a Bottle” story.

when I was 12 I was really into Transformers, but being 12 I didn’t have a lot of cash, so i begged my Mom to take me to a little gas station to buy a transformers comic book.

unfortunately they were sold out of Transformers, and not wanting to tick off my Mom after all my whining, I bought West Coast Avengers #39. It was an ansemble book, with lots of charcters and a decent ammount of action (Mantis, Wonderman, Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Swordsman, Moon Knight, Tigra, Phantom Rider, Black Goliath

I was hooked ever since

Not really a fight per say.. I saw an issue of Transformers #18 (was it?) the one with Omega Supreme around 1986 at a 7-11 gas station and bought it.

The first comics I bought at a real comic shop was Batman: Gotham By Gaslight and Uncanny X-Men #149 back issues.

I actually just started collecting comics in September and my first two were Booster Gold #36 and Wonder Woman #702. I loved the ongoing storylines and it made me want to go back and get the prior issues, so I think it’s true that you can start anywhere and still follow the plot. That’s why I’m just a little bit concerned about the DC renumbering. I really hope nothing bad happens to Booster and Stephanie Brown as Batgirl!

Well folks, my first comic was Amazing Spider-Man 25, from 1965! Yes, I am older than dirt, but still love the four color funnies. I had the privilege to meet Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Bob Kane and a host of other creators over the years. There is just some magic to comics that folks catch once they an issue, no matter what decade it was published. I still have the Spidey 25 with ” my frist comic” written just that way on it’s cover!

After looking back on my childhood, I think my first comic book was an Action Comics Annual by John Byrne and Art Adams featuring Batman and Superman teamed against a youngster vampire named Skeeter. I remember being 8 years old or something like that when my mom bought me the issue just to make me hush. I picked that book only because of Superman appeared in the cover, yet I discovered Batman and immediately he came to be my favorite DC comic character. Now I still think the plot is still very up to date (vampire fever is running out there) and the drawing is amazing, so imagine what were my feelings when I was 8 years old and completely inexperienced about comics and everything else in life .. awesome comic :)!!

My first comic was the free-give away comic staring Spider-Man, Luke Cage, and Storm where they had to stop some high-school track & field star from smoking. I loved that issue to pieces; lord knows why :-)

dazzler_slave

June 5, 2011 at 9:18 pm

My first comic was Justice League Europe #1. I bought it because I recognized The Flash and Wonder Woman on the cover. It wasn’t exactly reader friendly as it had led directly out of the Invasion! crossover and it featured a lot of characters I didn’t know anything about, like Animal Man, Captain Atom, Power Girl and Metamorpho. However, it was so interesting for me that I decided to try more comics, so I bought Hawk & Dove #1, Uncanny X-Men #247 (right as the X-Men were being fragmented after their time in Australia and we got a year of issues where there wasn’t an official team…not exactly reader friendly), and New Mutants #85 or so, just as Moonstar was possessed by Hela and the team went on a long adventure into Asgard. It didn’t matter to me that I didn’t know everything about the characters. It was exciting to find out through back issues and the Marvel Universe Handbooks (Update ’89 was also coming out at that time). I think we don’t give new readers enough credit. What they need isn’t a clean slate every year or so, but instead clear writing and art that is exciting and intriguing. I think the bigger problem is the fact that comics are written for trade so a 2 issue story is stretched out to 6. If I was a new reader today and I picked up some of the comics being published now, where the heroes just stand around talking to each other for the whole issue I would be turned off comics as well. I personally enjoy a lot of those comics, but I also love a good quick and easy adventure too, and I think those are what would attract a newbie.

Stephen White

June 5, 2011 at 11:09 pm

“You took your comic down to the shop and asked for the issue mentioned”?!? Wow, you live in some crazy alternate universe beyond my comprehension where you don’t dig through the boxes yourself! Personally, I have never had any Comic Book Guy be more helpful than to jut his thumb in a general direction when asked about a back issue, but I guess I must believe such people exist if you say so …

Matthew Moore

June 6, 2011 at 6:03 am

My first comic was V #4. I was an avid fan of the show.

Mine was Avengers 234. The amazing reveal (from another comic) that Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were the children of Magento! Oh my god! I had never heard of any of these people, but it was riviting! (I also bought #235 and Annual # 11 at the same time.)

My first comic was Uncanny X-Men 295, smack in the middle of the X-Cutioner’s Song. To this day, I am amazed that the middle chapter of a four-title crossover is what made me stick on comics. I guess I have the cartoon to thank, too.

The editor’s notes were definitely helpful, but it took me a while to realize that X-Men and Uncanny X-Men were two different titles. As soon as that dawned on me, the editor’s note that reads “Magneto died in X-Men #3″ made a lot more sense.

My first comic was an issue of Superman fighting Terra-Man back in 1991. Don’t remember the issue number, but it was after Luthor’s fake death. I have to say that I understand that comic book companies are struggling like every other aspect of the economy, but this strive to get new readers by doing all of these “soft reboots” and reliance on trades is getting out of hand. I grew up digging through back issues bins during the 1990s because I wanted to find out more about events like “Legends” or the original “Crisis on Infinite Earths”. How else were you going to know about Bane’s origin or why Luthor was dead and his “son” was in charge of LexCorp? I understand that there were trades back then, but it seemed special when those were released because they were like historical tomes that helped collect all of the stories you were looking for when you couldn’t get your hands on the entire collection in the back issue bins. The specialness has gone away from the trades for me when I can go into any book store and see TPD for a story that has either just finished or is currently running but the first volume is being release like how DC did for “Brightest Day”.

Glad we got a spectrum, here. I was starting to worry that every one was 20 years younger than me…

My first was G.I. Joe #7. A “part 2″, and I never needed part 1 (until I really started collecting, later on in life). I have those images burned into my memory. Clutch, Scarlett, Flash, Stalker, Grand Slam. The October Guard. God, I loved those people. Not characters. People. I was hooked.

Later came “almost” super-hero books like the New Universe. Those books were meant to be gateway drugs, but some of them were just damn good on their own. Not all of them, mind you…

Next came the real super-hero books. I picked up Uncanny #225 and fell in love with mutants (still one of my all-time favorite books). 1 part of a 9-part storyline (really 2-3 stories, but still), and I had no trouble keeping up. Strangely, though, I also picked up Avengers #287 (I remember thinking it tied in to Fall of the Mutants, for some reason…). Stern & Buscema on Avengers? That’ll work. Yep, I had no idea what was going on in that book, but I was an Avengers fan.

Intelligent readers, with intelligent books, don’t require a “starting point”. We can make our own starting points. But, I’m not what you’d call a casual reader. I want them all, so I will have the whole story, some day. For those folks who don’t want 60 years worth of comics in their storage space, it may be different…

Another UK fan, late 30s. Proud to say my first comics were the black & white weekly reprint of ASM #121 – Death of Gwen – and a colour pocket book reprinting the first six Lee & Ditko issues of ASM. Man, what a way to kick-start a lifelong passion. I fondly remember the Avengers, Defenders, Thor and Iron Man from the same late 70s reprint era, and getting to know the characters through Top Trumps playing cards and colouring books as much as the comics themselves.

Big difference between 70s and 80s comics and now though. Back then a lot of stories were either told-in-one-issue tales or had big chunks of recap exposition in the opening third (where Peter Parker or Doctor Strange or whoever would remember two or three pages of recent events for the benefit of readers, especially new readers). That’s what’s gone these days, mainly because six-eight panel pages have gone to three-four panels and the hot writers are more interested in snappy captions and go-nowhere dialogue then telling a story for their audience.

It was easy to pick up a random issue of Thor and get the gist of what had happened the previous issue, thus making the current story less confusing. These days if you come in in the middle of an arc (or, worse, an event), you’re screwed; even those front page recaps don’t help, it was so much easier in the old days because you invariably had a picture sequence to go with the recap.

However: Credit to Jeff Parker, Christos Gage, Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, and Paul Tobin. Four from the current crop of writers I enjoy reading who can, to an extent, tell a well-structured tale in a single issue where required.

My first was a Gold Key Tom and Jerry, and then the first superhero was Captaion America #247. And I was hooked!!

Can’t remember my first comic as being Scottish it was Buster, Whoopee, Beano or the Dandy or somesuch, but I can remember my first American comic. My parents got me a copy of Howard the Duck when I was on holiday on the Isle of Man (look it up) when I was six in 1981, probably because I had every British comic in the shop. Years later I realised it was #14 as I vaguely recalled the Son of Satan appearing – I also remember sitting in a beer garden at the time and wishing I had just got a Dandy instead. It was the first time I got an American comic years after the event, but not the last – I got the first three issues of Alpha Flight and Spider-man 252 in a normal newsagent in Great Yarmouth in 1986 who probably thought they had done well to get rid of them, as I had been on the lookout ever since the first UK issue of Secret Wars. I don’t know what happened to that issue of Howard, but I’m pretty sure is was binned due to the content as I still have the two issues of TV Comic that I got that fortnight. And it eventually cost me three quid to replace it as a 30 year old!!

Hi. My dad bought me some second hand Harvey comics when I was 5-6 – Casper,Richie Rich, Hot Stuff, Spooky – took me a while to wean off the stuff.

I then got intoo Archie around 10 and stuff like Asterix but remember checking out some superhero back issues – Marvel Triple Action that reprinted early Don heck drawn Avengers, Defenders circa 80 and 200-something Wonder Woman ( I was loving the tv show).

In 1982 after collecting some Superhero Panini sticker collection I was introduced to most of the DC-Marvel major players and bought some back issues of Avengers (213 -215 that introduced the Hank-Jan split) X-men (151-153). FF(236 – 238 -20th anniversary/Frankie Raye). The first comics I remember buying off the shelf at full price with my own money were Wonder Woman 300 and JLA 210 (gorgeous Perez cover- though I soon learnt it was a flashback tale). I don’t remember being too intimidated by the large numbering or the need to know everything that had happened until then. I liked figuring stuff out as I went along.

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