It’s not quite time for the holidays, but we have the next best thing “So You Want To Read Comics”, a weekly feature where we take a look at a specific topic and then suggest some comics for new readers based on that topic, usually.
This week is going to look a little different. We’ve suggested comics based on the love of food, the love of sports, the love of France, and so forth and if you’ve read some of the past editions of this feature you may have noticed some helpful little links that will take you to places you can buy those recommendations. That’s what we’re taking a look at this week. Places you can buy comics and some of the services those places provide.
Of course, brick and mortar stores are always an option (assuming the pandemic hasn’t forced them closed), and there is something unique and special about looking through long boxes, supporting a local business, and holding a comic in your hands, physical comic shops have their problems. Selection will always be more limited, that should go without saying. Also, without trying to generalize, comic shops don’t always lend themselves to being newcomer friendly.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some ways you can read comics in this day and age.
ComiXology is the premiere outlet for digital comics these days. It has by far the biggest selection out there, it has a user friendly reader with an excellent “guided view” (this is essentially a curated version of the comic that goes from panel to panel in the proper order and provides a closer look at the details). The best thing that ComiXology offers though, is their ComiXology Unlimited service though. For $5.99 a month ComiXology Unlimited gives you access to a massive selection of books that you can “borrow” for no extra cost. Considering that the going rate for a graphic novel is anywhere between $8 to $20, it’s not hard to get your money’s worth. What’s surprising is that the books that are part of this selection aren’t bottom barrel stuff, these offerings come from all the biggest publishers. To give this some context, I’d say that over 50% of the titles recommended in “So You Want To Read Comics” are ComiXology Unlimited books. As a little added bonus, an Unlimited account also gives you a little discount on new releases as well. This is the service I typically suggest for new readers. The one fault I would say ComiXology has, is that it doesn’t always list it’s products well, and it requires a bit of navigation to get to listings for individual issues, or different volumes of a graphic novel.
PUBLISHER SPECIFIC SERVICES
While their products do appear on ComiXolgy, some publishers have also opted for their own services with their own benefits. While some of the details may be different, most of these services operate the same. You pay for a subscription and that gives you access to a massive backlog of comics that go deep into the company’s history, we’re talking “near impossible for one person to read all of these comics” levels of content here. Now, there’s typically a buffer of 3 to 6 months between when a comic comes out to when it becomes available to read for “free” with new releases being available at full price. But if you’re not interested in being up to date on your newfound favorites and you find yourself drawn mostly to one publisher over the others, this isn’t a terrible way to go. As a nice little feature, these companies tend to do the work of grouping famous storylines or showcases on specific characters for you. These services offer great in-roads for people who have been drawn to comics through other mediums like movies and TV. For example, if you really love the MCU and want to see more of that Thanos fellow you could pick up Marvel Unlimited (link) or if you really can’t get enough of CW’s Arrowverse you could hop onto DC Universe (link) and read to your heart’s content. The big downside here is if you’re interested in more than one publisher you could find yourself balancing multiple accounts that will jack up the amount of money you’re spending on comics.
So, there’s really no right or wrong way to read comics (assuming it’s legal of course) and it’ll ultimately come down to preference, but hopefully this helps you in your adventure into comic book reading. And if so, let us know in the comments section below.