Comics & Graphic Novels for Beginners

Comic Recs for Beginners

I’ve already done a few “beginner” type comic posts on my blog. I did an overall guide and then a Marvel-centric guide. Today I’m kind of blending the two together and talking about comics that good for beginners to jump into! I did mention some beginner comics in both those posts, but I wanted to bring a bit more attention to the comics themselves. I’m going to be presuming you already know the basics so if you’re completely brand new then I suggest checking out my So You Want to Start Reading Comics and Graphic Novels post which goes over some basic terms and where to find comics.

This post was inspired by me trying to find the best place to start reading Wonder Women comics and finding out that the Wonder Woman: Rebirth series intends for you to start at Volume 2 not Volume 1 and has out of order issues. No wonder people are so scared to read comics, haha.

I know one of the biggest misconceptions is that comics are just superheroes and that’s not true! If you’re a contemporary fan there’s something for you too. Comics can seem completely overwhelming and I still kind of just wing it most of the time too, but hopefully these suggestions will make it a little less intimidating for you! There’s obviously so many more choices than the ones I’m listing, but these are some that worked really well for me!

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Covers = Goodreads 

Never Read A Comic Before? Start with A Graphic Novel.

If you’ve never picked up any kind of comic or graphic novel then I highly suggest starting with a standalone graphic novel. Yeah comics and graphic novels are two different things, but don’t worry about that too much. Basically, with a stand alone graphic novel you won’t have to worry about continuing issues (there are exceptions of course) or a whole huge world of back story. It’ll hopefully get you used to the formatting and make you feel more comfortable making the leap from solely written books to one that focus on artwork doing the majority of the storytelling. 

Nimona The Stonekeeper (Amulet, #1) Blue Is the Warmest Color Through the Woods

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – Nimona is one of the the best places to start if you’ve never touched a comic or graphic novel. It’s great for fans of fantasy. It really turns the hero/villain trope on its head. It’s heavily implied that there was a romantic relationship between the two main male characters (Noelle Stevenson said she regrets not making it more obvious though so keep that in mind) and Nimona can shapeshift into a shark. Do I need to say more?

Amulet, Vol 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi – Amulet is another excellent place for beginners and it’s a Middle Grade graphic novel so if those elements incite you in books then you’ll probably love this. This is one of the exceptions where the graphic novel does contain more than one volume. However, unlike comics that are released in singular issues think of this more of a book series. It’s about two kids who discover there’s a door in their basement that leads to another world. It’s so fun and magical! || Current Available Volumes: 1-7

Blue is the Warmest Colour by Julie Maroh – Not into fantasy? Then you might prefer Blue is the Warmest Colour. It’s a completely contemporary graphic novel and it also features a F/F romance. Whilst I didn’t love this it definitely is a great suggestion for beginners who aren’t into all the sci-fi/magic stuff and A LOT of people LOVE this.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll – Like creepy horror stories that involve the woods? Then Through the Woods was probably made for you (it was for me!). This graphic novel contains stunning art and five creepy stories that will have you questioning their meaning for ages.

Making the Jump to Comics

If you’ve already got the hang of the comic and graphic novel format and want to try reading more actual comics then just like graphic novels I suggest ones that aren’t heavily implemented in the Marvel/DC Universe just to save you from having to figure out back stories. This will also get you used to the way singular issues and trade paperbacks work. Most times these comics are from Independent publishers like Image and Boom. 

Archie, Vol. 1: The New Riverdale Giant Days, Vol. 1 (Giant Days, #1) Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy Saga, Vol. 1 (Saga, #1)

Archie, Vol 1: The New Riverdale by Mark Waid (writer) & Fiona Staple (art) – Don’t worry this reboot of the original Archie comics is NOTHING like Riverdale and I’ll be forever bitter that the TV show didn’t follow a similar storyline. I never read the original Archie comics but I ADORE this reboot. It is so much fun!!! The characters and friendships are WONDERFUL. It’ll make you laugh and cry. It’s so heartwarming. || Current Available Volumes: 1-3

Giant Days, Vol 1 by John Allison (writer) & Lisa Treiman (art) – Another suggestion for my contemporary lovers. This follows a group of girls who live in the UK and are just starting university. It features such a great friendship group and is honestly one of the funniest things ever. In the later volumes there’s a F/F relationship. || Current Available Volumes: 1-5

Lumberjanes, Vol 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis (writers) & Brooke A. Allen (art) – Quite possible the most PURE comic series I’ve EVER READ IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. If you’ve read and loved Noelle’s other creation Nimona then I’m almost certain you’ll love Lumerbanes. It’s about a group of girls who attend a summer camp and magical adventures ensue. There’s no unnecessary drama at all and it’s just friendship and girls being wonderful and having fun. || Current Available Volumes: 1-6

Saga, Vol 1 by Brian K. Vaughan (writer) & Fiona Staples (art) – All the above comics are definitely lighthearted so if you want something darker then I highly suggest Saga. It’s an intense sci-fi series about planets waging war against each other. It has a slight forbidden romance aspect to it because the two main characters are from the different planets. Saga isn’t shy from using NSFW artwork. You’ll see graphic depictions of sex and violence so if that’s not your thing then I’d suggest giving this a miss. However, it’s a lot more than just sex and death and features so many important themes and ultimately it’s about a family protecting each other. || Current Available Volumes: 1-7

Alright. I Think I’m Starting to Get the Hang of This. Gimme the Marvel and DC Superheroes.

Trying to navigate the world of DC and Marvel can seem impossible at times. There’s just so much history. Marvel and DC do “retcon” a lot which means all previous canon can get erased so even if you’re feeling comfortable chances are an Event will happen that will turn everything on it’s head. There are some “jumping on” points that both publications created, but even then it can still be pretty confusing. One of the best ways to start reading is to choose a character and start from the most recent volumes. Most important thing to remember is that you DON’T need to read EVERY SINGLE COMIC EVER. 

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal Runaways, Vol. 1: Pride and Joy (Runaways, #1) Harley Quinn, Vol. 1: Hot in the City Gotham Academy, Vol. 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy

Ms Marvel, Vol 1: Normal by G. Willow Wilson (writer) and Adrian Alphona (art) – I think I rec this every chance I get because it’s SUPER IMPORTANT? Ms. Marvel is the entire reason I even CONSIDERED getting into comics so whenever I see awful, racist people say it’s “done nothing” I’m just like?? Okay, but here’s a million reasons why you’re wrong. It features a Pakistani-American Muslim girl who discovers she’s inhuman and develops abilities. Ms. Marvel does require a tiny bit of prior knowledge because it presumes you know what “inhumans” are and about the terrigen mist. Like I said though it was one of the first comics I ever read and I followed along fine so!! || Current Available Volumes: 1-7

Runaways, Vol 1: Pride and Joy by Brian K. Vaughan & Adrian Alphona – This is the very first comic I ever read and whilst it is an older one I think it’s a great place to start. It kind of introduces the Marvel universe but does so in a way that you don’t really need to know a ton of prior history. It’s also features a team of characters that all have their own powers and abilities. It’s not the best and some of the later volumes take a dive, but it’s still fun and a great place to start. Rainbow Rowell is actually rebooting this series and I’m super interested to see what she does with it! || Current Available Volumes: 1-7

Harley Quinn, Vol 1: Hot in the City by Amanda Conner – The New 52 series this is a great jumping on point because it reboots Harley’s origin. I am not very familiar with the DC universe mostly because I don’t really care about Batman or Superman (oops), but I ADORE Harley. I think she’s one of the most interesting and complex characters ever and so much more than just a “villain”. Whilst I don’t really like what’s  in the Rebirth series I LOVE this series so much. It also introduces a lot of DC characters like Batman and Poison Ivy. || Current Available Volumes: 1-6

Gotham Academy, Vol 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher (writers) & Karl Kerschl (art) – Again this does require a bit of prior knowledge on Batman or more specifically the city of Gotham and the Arkham Asylum, but like I know nothing about Batman and again I followed along. The art in this series is stunning and it’s a really great mystery that you get caught up in. || Current Available Volumes: 1-3

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If you’ve read any of these I’d love to hear your thoughts!

If you’re a comic reader what was the first one you read?

I hope you’re all having a fantastic day.

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43 thoughts on “Comics & Graphic Novels for Beginners

  1. Great topic Lauren, and definitely one I am going to bookmark for the future. I’ve never read any comics, or many graphic novels, but it’s a genre I want to get into more because I loved Nimona and Wires and Nerve when I picked them up, and found myself wanting to read more like it.
    Again great post! 🙂 ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome post, thank you for this! I know next to nothing about comics or graphic novels, but have always been interested in giving them a try. Nimona and Saga have been on my TBR for a little bit, and I just added Through the Woods because it sounds really good!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So many of these are on my wishlist!! And I admit that I want to read Saga because the characters on the cover look really hot 😂😂😂
    The DC universe is not really for me, I personally much prefer Marvel when it comes to superhero movies, so if I ever get into comics it will probably be through Marvel. I’m really interested in the Young Avengers comics because I believe there’s some gay romance in the story? Not sure tho haha. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HAHAHA, I love that and I mean it’s 100% true. They’re babes.

      Yeah, DC isn’t really my preferred universe either. I’m just absolutely in love with Harley Quinn. Yeah there is a M/M romance in Young Avengers!! It’s the cutest. It’s been so long since I’ve read it I can’t remember what volume it happens in (or if it’s been there since the start) 🙈. It’s one of my favourite series though!

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      1. Yiiisss I found a Young Avengers issue in a gay bookshop in Germany once and was really confused, so I googled it and realised it’s a bit gay 😀 Definitely gonna read the comics at some point!!

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  4. Ahhh I love these guides so much!! I’ve had Nimona on my shelf for over a year – I really did to pick it up since I’ve heard nothing but good things about it! And I’ll be interested to read the Archie reboots now that you’ve given them the thumbs up – I recently read the original comics again & was kinda disgusted by the sexism & poor representation of the friendships in it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great graphic novel and comics choices! I wanna look into the Archie comics reboots now since I loved watching Riverdale. I’d add “Monstress” by Majorie M. Liu (so beautifully drawn and the story is fantastic) as well as “Valerian and Laureline” by Pierre Christin & Jean-Claude Mézières (French Comic), which are older comics but since the movie for them came out a couple of weeks ago a comic series worth looking into.
    You definitely gave me back my hype for comics and graphic novels 😀
    xo Annina (https://blattzirkus.wordpress.com)

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    1. The comics are suuuuuuper different to the show, but I also think they’re a lot better hahaha so I definitely suggest checking them out 😀 I think they do a really good job at developing the characters and there’s a lot less drama 😂 Monstress was one I really enjoyed too. I was thinking of including it, but was trying to not get too carried away. I’ll have to check out V&L because I hadn’t heard of that one. Ahh, yay, that makes me so happy to hear ♥

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is such a great post Lauren!!! I love comics and it took me forever to figure out how they’re read, what order the issues are, etc etc. I wish I had something like this when I started! My favourite company is Image! They have the best graphic novels/comics ever. They do Saga, Morning Glories, Invincible, Walking Dead, The Wicked and the Divine, and a million more. I suggest anyone who wants to start with graphic novels to check out Image! Great post!! 😀

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    1. Ahh, thank you so much ♥ It took me so long too 😂 I was doing so much Googling. The worst thing was when I thought I had to read every issue and was like HOW AM I GONNA FIND SOMETHING FROM THE 1950s 😂 I LOVE Image!! I need to check out some of the ones you listed though because the only one I’ve read (besides Saga) is TW+TD.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is such a great guide. I’ve always been intrigued by comics and graphic novels and my brother has an impressive collection of both but it’s one that I feel like I’d need to get use to and be in the right mood for. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about Nimona and Saga so I’m just give them a chance to wow me haha.

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  8. Amazing and helpful post Lauren! I completely agree with Nimona, Through the Woods, and Amulet being great beginner graphic novels since those were ones I started with as well.
    I haven’t quite delved into the realm of comics but I know now where I will be starting! 🙂

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  9. Great post! And I’m pleased to see a lot of graphic novels that I’ve read 😀

    I used to read the old Archie’s when I was a kid, but I haven’t come across the reboot yet, although I really want to pick it up. My local comic store just hasn’t got any of them and I haven’t picked up the nerve to order it online.

    I LOVE Saga, Ms Marvel and Gotham Academy! They’re so amazing and I can’t get enough of them. I’m not that big a fan of Harley Quinn though, but I keep reading the comics in hope of me liking them better. But I think it’s just not my style 🙂

    xx Yasmine @ Swissbookworm

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  10. I love this post! Wish I had this when I got into comics last year haha. I was SO overwhelmed, especially by the DC and Marvel comics. I even considered reading EVERYTHING 😂 I absolutely love Lumberjanes, Giant Days, Ms. Marvel and Gotham Academy and some of the others are on my tbr as well 😀 Can’t wait to get to them

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  11. I’m definitely one of those people who want to start reading comics (and graphic novels), but always procrastinates because they’re so intimidating! So naturally, your post is perfect for me! I definitely have Nimona, Lumberjanes, Saga, Ms Marvel and Harley Quinn on my TBR, so I guess Ill just start with these 🙂

    Like

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