Getting into the world of Comic Books and Collecting can seem like a daunting task. Heck, just picking a comic to start reading can feel overwhelming and a little intimidating. The history of some publishers and characters goes back 60 to 80 years. You may feel like the time has passed to pick up a book and dive in without knowing who a character is, where he came from, or what he's all about. These days, with the glut of superhero movies that have hit the big screen in the last few years, more people than ever are becoming familiar with characters that have long been favorites of the hard-core comic book crowd.
Comics Publishers make a concerted effort to ease a new reader into their worlds. Often, when a big budget motion picture is about to drop, publishers introduce new #1 issues, collected editions of classic storylines, and stand-alone "One Shot" issues - along with the toys, t-shirts, and fast food promotions - all in the hopes of getting people in the seats at the theater, and ultimately, into the Local Comic Shop (LCS).
As a long time comic reader who lapsed - and returned after a 12 year hiatus - I can tell you that there's never been a better time to get into comic books. Just reading comics is great fun! Collecting them is a bit of a lifestyle, as they do take up a bit of space once you amass a significant amount of them. They are the most bang for your entertainment buck, as most issues cost between $2-$4. "Back Issues" (previously released books spanning a title's complete run, sometimes decades) can usually be found at your LCS for anywhere from $.25 to several hundreds - even thousands of dollars. They can also often be found at Flea Markets, rummage sales, even in your grandparent's attic!
For me, there is a definite "thrill of the hunt" aspect to comic book collecting. When I got back into comics, I stopped into my LCS and asked what was new with some of the characters I used to read. I found out about an exciting storyline from Marvel Comics called "Planet Hulk", featuring - you guessed it - The Incredible Hulk. I had never read a Hulk story before, but I fell in love with the character and wanted to read as much as I could about his adventures. Over the course of the next few years, between scouring the back issue boxes at comic shops, and hitting the local flea markets and yard sales, I have nearly acquired what's called a "Complete Run', which is basically every issue since a title was first published.
Now, in the case of "The Incredible Hulk", and many other classic titles dating back to the 60s and earlier, those first issues can be astronomically expensive. They are - and deserve to be - highly collectible as they often feature the first appearances of beloved characters, their evil foes and love interests, and colorful supporting cast. And they are often quite rare. Everyone's heard a terrible story about how someone's mother threw away all their old comics (or baseball cards, or toys, etc.) only to find out 30 years later they could've sent a kid to college for what some of that stuff would come to be worth.
The goal of any hobby isn't necessarily to make money from it. It's something we enjoy doing in our free time. Long gone are the days where a new comic book will end up being worth thousands of dollars. That doesn't mean that they're not worth reading, keeping, sharing, and enjoying for years to come. If you'd like to begin reading comic books, know that there is truly something out there for everyone. If you dont think you would enjoy super hero stories, there are mysteries, comedies; nearly every genre of novel or film has a counterpart in the world of comic books. There are even adaptations of classic and contemporary literature from Milton to Stephen King.
Never fear! Stop in to your LCS, tell them what you like, and they'll steer you in the direction of an inexpensive, entertaining experience that just might be right for you.