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So you’re a woman who loves comics, but you’ve got a dude in your life - boyfriend, husband, brother, best pal, roomate or dad - who isn’t. You know what it’s like. You go with them to The Avengers and they have no idea who that is in the final scene. Or you go to see The Dark Knight Rises and you end up having to explain that John Blake, despite his first name, is not in Batman comics. Or maybe they just roll their eyes when you’re diving into your pull and don’t get why your spend time and money on comics. Why don’t they like what we like?
I feel your pain.
So given that we are in the official start of the holiday gift season here’s some suggestions to help you get a dude in your life into comics. This isn’t a list of the best comics or even the comics that will solve all the challenges I’ve outlined above, but they are titles that I think may help nudge the needle on a non-comic reader. Note this list is not exhaustive and is designed to bring readers into an ongoing series. And yes, I’m sure you have some other suggestions. Comment away!
So they watch Arrow?
So they like Arrow on CW? The last episode of Arrow had 3.8M viewers. The October issue of Green Arrow in the new 52 sold 22K copies or less than 1% so I’m not surprised they are watching and not reading. The easiest solution is to just recommend the digital comic DC publishes that is written by the show’s producers Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg. But I have a suggestion that will, I believe, better showcase the power of a good comic:
This novel by Andy Diggle and Jock covers Ollie’s time on the island and his transformation into Green Arrow. True, that is being covered on the TV show but the story is here is beautifully told - Diggle scripting and Jock’s art perfectly mesh. It’s an energetic and kinetic self-enclosed tale that will enhance the story being told in comics. I highly recommend it and you can buy it here
I’ve yet to give this trade to anyone who hasn’t liked it so if you’re dude does to you can either move them over to the new 52 Green Arrow. I’d start them with issue #17 in February when writer Jeff Lemire joins the title.
So they liked the Avengers movie!
The Avengers broke box office records left and right grossing over $1.5B worldwide before you add in the DVD sales. But the Avengers are also a team with almost 50 years of continuity. Add into that that each of the characters also has their own continuity and a new reader will have a very large barrier to entry. That’s why you need to hand them this comic:
Yes, another male archer! It’s nice to see the success of Katniss in the Hunger Games is providing a boost to some male characters as well. While not really related to the Jeremy Renner character in Avengers, this Hawkeye will give any newbie dude reader an easy on-ramp and a quick charge. All he needs to know is that Hawkeye is rich, an archer and hangs out with a smart young woman who is also an archer and who is also called Hawkeye. Each issue is self-enclosed as well meaning you can pick up an issue and have a payoff at the end. Matt Fraction’s humor is as dry as vermouth and the art work by David Aja is a triumph of simplicity. You can pick up the first four issues in a LCS or just go the digital route.
They loved The Dark Knight Rises!
Every dude knows Batman - he’s not just a character he’s a brand. But as every comic fan knows Nolan-verse Batman is not the comic-verse Batman. And the comic verse Batman despite DC’s tear-down of their 75 years of continuity Batman is still a steep hill for a new comic reader. One page in and you have to explain why Batman has four sons all of who have been Robin (okay, one was Red Robin - see it’s not easy).
But what if they want to read about Batman? Here’s a few selections that will let them jump into the current run:
Given that Grant Morrison is known as god’s gift to Batman continuity junkies, you might be surprised to see this on the list. But hear me out. Yes, there is a lot of meta text here but there is also a lot that will be easily digested by someone who saw the movie. Catwoman and Batman being fun with snappy dialogue? Here! Batman as a brand rather than one man? Here! Evil daughter of Ra’s al Ghul? Here! But you also get some semi-standalone stories such as one featuring a blonde Batgirl (just like in the not Nolan Batman movies!). I’ll be honest, it’s not a brainless read but it does show that Batman is more than just Wham! Pow!
You can buy the trade here; the remaining issues are still in floppy. Sadly, however, Morrison’s run on Batman, Inc. is coming to an end. But that’s okay because there is another writer on the main book who is pretty damn good.
If you want to get them into a comic that’s going to be around a bit longer, than go with the Batman title being written by Scott Snyder. To get them started on that pick up these two trades:
This is not Bruce Wayne as Batman. But it is one of the best Batman stories ever published. And the storyline ties into the current run of Batman. You can buy The Black Mirror here. From there I recommend you given him Court of Owls, the first volume of Batman in the new 52 which will provide a on-ramp into the current run. You can buy it here. Resist the urge to skip The Black Mirror, it’s a great read.
The Syfy channel is always on and they love Space Operas!
If they are a fan of any kind of Space Opera this book will be your best gift to bring them into the comic world.
A young married couple are on the run in space. I won’t breathe another word (okay TV headed people! Having sex!) but just press this into his hands and I think he’ll love it. And after that you can tell send him towards the writer’s Y: The Last Man and other titles.
You can buy Saga here
They like Stephen King!
Of course, if they like Stephen King you could always get them an comic adaption of one of King’s books such as The Stand. But I am going to recommend two original series.
If they like the Stephen King of Salem’s Lot then I recommend American Vampire by Scott Snyder (see Batman entry above).
American Vampire takes the vampire story and lays it within different time periods in modern American history beginning with the early days of Hollywood. The first arc even features Stephen King as co-writer. Start with the first volume, which you can buy here, and if they like there are several other volumes.
If they are less into vampires and more into dark fantasy and horrow then I recommend Locke & Key, written by King’s son Joe Hill.
This is one of the best comics of the last decade; Hill has his father’s touch of balancing horror and compelling personal stories. Sadly, this book is nearing the end of its run but there are 5 volumes of incredibly engrossing back story to catch up on. You can buy the first trade here.
There are many other comics I could recommend on a genre level. For example if they like sand and blood epics there’s Conan the Barbarian from Dark Horse (available digitally, in floppies and the trade is out in January) ; if they love film noir there’s Fatale from Ed Brubaker which I highly recommend and you can buy here.
Hopefully these titles will help get a man in your life into comics - the comics world could always use another reader.