Comics and Graphic Novels Introductory FAQ

#1NeeberPosted 1/4/2006 7:03:05 PMmessage detail
Welcome to the Comics and Graphic Novels Board Introductory FAQ.

Hello y’all. This FAQ was designed by me, Neeber, to answer hopefully any of the basic questions you could want to know. I’m going to try to keep thing fairly basic and mainly concentrate on general questions as well as Marvel and DC to a small extent. If you have any more questions (either something you want to know or something that you do know, but think others may not) or can see a mistake I’ve made, feel free to add to this FAQ.

It’s also worth noting that a few links are provided here when needed, but because of the nature of this topic the links won’t be able to be changed if the address of a site changes. There is nothing here that can’t be found with a simple search on google and all of the links are to corporations rather than individuals and as such will probably stay the same. If you’re in need of one of the links, it no longer works and you can’t find it on google then try asking here and someone will be sure to help.

1. What are Comic books and Graphic Novels, and why should I buy them?
- 1.1 Hang on a second? A comic book? What’s that?
- 1.2 I know what a comic book is now, but what’s a graphic novel?
- 1.3 Why do you like to read comics anyway?
- 1.4 Hang on a second, aren’t comic books for children? What are adults doing reading things like this?
- 1.5 I don’t understand. How can people in spandex hitting each other be entertaining to anyone who likes a mature story?
2. I’m thinking about buying comics. Can you help me choose what to buy?
- 2.1 This kind of sounds interesting. Can you tell me some good comics of graphic novels to buy?
- 2.2 So what about the companies which publish all the comics? I bet one of them is really great and I should get all my comics from them.
- 2.3 Some of the comics I’ve seen have special names and sometimes pictures on the cover like “Marvel Knights”, “Ultimate” or “All-Star”. What exactly do these mean?
- 2.4 You’ve hooked my interest. Where do I go to buy comics?
- 2.5 I’ve heard comic books can be worth quite a lot of money. If I buy comics books should I keep them in prime condition so I can sell them in a few decades and make a lot of money?
- 2.6 Okay, so my comics aren’t worth anything. I still want to keep them from getting ruined and torn simply so I can enjoy them.
3. Posting on the boards and miscellaneous
- 3.1 Man, does Superman/Batman/Whoever suck or what?
- 3.2 Hey, can I ask who would win in a fight between two characters? What if one of them is from something other than a comic book?
- 3.3 You’ve mentioned continuity a few times, what does this mean?
- 3.4 Right, and now Retcon. That’s got something to do with continuity, right?
- 3.5 I’ve gotten to like these characters I’ve been reading about. Are there any games or movies based on comic books?
- 3.6 Heh, those movies and games were pretty good. As they’re comic related, is it alright if I talk about them here?
- 3.7 Well it’s alright if I post about manga, right? They’re just Japanese comic books.
- 3.8 What about web comics? They’re comics so they count, right?
4. Marvel Comics
- 4.1 Who are the major Heroes and Villains in the Marvel universe?
- 4.2 What does 616 stand for? I hear people use it a lot.
- 4.3 Who’s the most powerful person in the Marvel universe?
5. DC comics
- 5.1 What’s this pre and post crisis I hear about?
- 5.2 Who’s the most powerful person in the DC universe?
- 5.3 Who are the major Heroes and Villains in the DC universe?
- 5.4 What does DC mean?
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#2Neeber(Topic Creator)Posted 1/4/2006 7:03:38 PMmessage detail
1. What are Comic books and Graphic Novels, and why should I buy them?

1.1
Q. Hang on a second? A comic book? What’s that?
A. A comic book is essentially a story told in a very visual format. While there is still speech, thoughts, narration and the like, actions are most often shown by pictures of what’s happening. These pictures are on every single page, often many individual panels to a page. Comics usually tell a continous story about a central character or characters. Stories will usually be told over a number of comics, each comic called an issue, for instance issue #1. Some comic books carry on and have no end to the story such as Detective Comics which is on it’s 815th issue at the moment. Each specific comic book is usually published monthly (One comic released per month), although some are published on a different schedule.

1.2
Q. I know what a comic book is now, but what’s a graphic novel?
A. A graphic novel doesn’t have a specific definition but it is generally a self contained story told in comic book form, usually much longer than traditional comics. This story could be a series of already published comics which formed a storyline being reproduced as a single volume or it could be a formerly unpublished piece of work which is being published for the first time and is simply using that format because it fits best.

1.3
Q. Why do you like to read comics anyway?
A. People read comics for different reasons because comics really do vary a lot, and frankly so do people. People can look for specific things in their comics such as humour or a lot of action, but generally it all boils down to them liking the characters and wanting to see how they act and develop. Reading about the exploits of Superman will be quite different to reading about Spider-man, because they both have different lives and personalities. Generally people find characters they like and continue to buy those comics.

1.4
Q. Hang on a second, aren’t comic books for children? What are adults doing reading things like this?
A. That’s far from the truth. Like other media such as books and movies there are comic books for people of all movies. Some comic books will be aimed at a specific audience such as Marvel Adventures Spider-Man being aimed at younger audiences while others might deal with particularly mature themes such as Marvel Knights Spider-man being for a more adult audience, but usually comic books are aimed at mature readers from the teenage years upwards.

1.5
Q. I don’t understand. How can people in spandex hitting each other be entertaining to anyone who likes a mature story?
A. Generally anything which is purely made up of people hitting each other will only appeal to people in a juvenile way, comic book or not, and there is certainly more to almost every comic book than that. A lot of the drama comes from the mental challenges and social interactions the main characters face rather than the people they’re forced into combat with. Another thing to take into account is that not all comics are superhero comics. The Walking Dead for instance is about a group of completely normal people in an extraordinary situation, a zombie apocalypse, yet even then the main focus is on the interaction and plot rather than action and zombie killing.
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#3Neeber(Topic Creator)Posted 1/4/2006 7:04:08 PMmessage detail
2. I’m thinking about buying comics. Can you help me choose what to buy?

2.1
Q. This kind of sounds interesting. Can you tell me some good comics or graphic novels to buy?
A. Whoa there, that’s kind of a hard question to answer. Everyone has different preferences, so what might seem like an excellent comic to me could be awful to you. The best thing to do is ask around either in real life or on the board. If you tell someone your preferences and what kind of things you like, there’s sure to be a comic to suit you.

Having said that, there are quite a few graphic novels which are generally regarded as very good by many people who read them, or even the best ever by some people, which you might want to consider picking up and reading to see what general style of comic books and graphic novels you like. Here’s just four of them if you’re really stuck for ideas and while they might not be what you’re after, many people find them to be excellent reads:

Bone – In black and white and with a fairly simple style Bone isn’t a visual feast, but the engaging plot and characters more than make this up. It could perhaps be called the comic version of the Lord of the Rings. Originally 55 serialised comic books, it can now be found in one collected graphic novel or nine smaller volumes.

Superman: Red Son – A story of what could have happened if Superman landed in Soviet Russia instead of America. No knowledge of Superman is required, although if someone is familiar with DC comics they’ll probably get a little more from the story. While many people love this story, the reception of the last few pages is somewhat mixed but shouldn’t detract form the overall story. It is available for purchase as a single graphic novel.

Watchmen – This is one of the most critically acclaimed comic books ever and while many argue that it might not deserve as much praise as it’s gotten, most agree that if nothing else it’s a good mature read which is highly enjoyable. Only 12 issues of Watchmen were ever published, and they’re all collected in the Graphic Novel so no real knowledge of comics is needed. The story revolves around a moderately large cast of characters, many super-heroes, over the course of a short period of time, although there are frequent flashbacks, as the world teeters in the brink of a nuclear war

Y: the Last Man – The main reason that this is included here, other than the engaging storyline, characters and dialogue, is that it offers a counter point to the other comics shown. While the others involve super-human characters or fantasy creatures, this one has real characters. The situation is quite extraordinary with all men in the entire world except one being killed, but the adventures of Yorick Brown as he tries to find his would be fiancé on the other side of the world are worth looking at and are well written. This story is currently being serialised on a monthly basis as a comic and past issues are being collected in graphic novels.

The first issue of Y: The last man can currently be found at DC comics website for free as a promotional offer: http://www.dccomics.com/features/Ylastman/

Those are just a tiny amount of the amazing comics out there at the moment. If you ask on the boards here then you’ll be sure to get information on many more comic books and graphic novels.

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#4Neeber(Topic Creator)Posted 1/4/2006 7:05:18 PMmessage detail
2.2
Q. So what about the companies which publish all the comics? I bet one of them is really great and I should get all my comics from them.
A. Not so. With any company which publishes more than one or two comics you’re going to be getting a significant difference in quality between different issues. There are numerous reasons for this. Firstly, companies publish comics about many different characters and while someone like Batman might appeal to you the Flash might not simply because of their differences in powers/personality/setting/etc, even though they’re published by the same company. Secondly, writers and artists can only work on so many comics at once. Different people have different styles, so characters and comic books can seem vastly different simply because they’re being written or drawn by someone else. This change can understandably sometimes make a character lose their appeal. Thirdly, and perhaps most obviously, there’s no way it’s humanly possible for people to consistently create material of a high quality. There’s no writer who will always be able to write what you see as the perfect story, and no artist who will be able to draw pictures you think are perfect.

Personally I’d say that your best bet for finding a comic book you like is either DC or Marvel. They’re known as “The Big Two” simply because they dominate the industry. While each one certainly publishes their stinkers, the sheer volume of comics they bring out every month as well as the power they have to hire the ‘top’ writers and artists mean that with a little investigation you should be able to find something you like. Another advantage of DC and Marvel is that it’s easier to purchase any issues they sell. However, that isn’t to say that the other publishers aren’t worthwhile. Although Marvel and DC are a good place to start, you’ll be missing out on a load of real gems if you ignore other publishers.
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#5Neeber(Topic Creator)Posted 1/4/2006 7:06:11 PMmessage detail
2.3
Q. Some of the comics I’ve seen have special names and sometimes pictures on the cover like “Marvel Knights”, “Ultimate” or “All-Star”. What exactly do these mean?
A. These are imprints. They’re something which is on the comic to differentiate it from the other comics published by the company. The only two companies to really use imprints are Marvel and DC, although both still release many comics without an imprint.

The current imprints for Marvel are:

Marvel Next – Designed to spotlight new characters generally in their teens. Although it is aimed to attract younger readers, the story telling has been acclaimed by mature readers and critics in some of the titles, especially Runaways and the earlier issues of Young Avengers.

Icon Comics – Comics which are titles whose rights are owned by their creators and thus have control over practically anything that happens in it.

Marvel Adventures – Fairly simple yet fun comics for younger readers which focus on classic characters which are well known.

Marvel Knights – An imprint which is designed for more mature readers and deals with themes you won’t usually see in your average Marvel comic book.

MAX – Comics which deal with adult situations which should be avoided by younger readers. This can include explicit content and are the only comics Marvel allows such freedom.

Ultimate – Started in 2000, the comics in this imprint are essentially a new universe separate from the one where practically every other Marvel comic is published. It uses new revised versions of characters, and as characters are relatively newly made they have much less baggage and history than their mainstream counterparts.

The current imprints for DC are:

All Star – These are supposedly stories about characters in their iconic states which don’t have to worry about continuity. However All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder at the moment appears to be more a retelling of an old story in a new manner than a new story which are free from continuity.

America's Best Comics – Originally an imprint of Wildstorm, this imprint ended up belonging to DC when Wildstorm was bought by DC. There is no specific type of tale meant to be told by this imprint, although it is aimed at mature readers.

CMX – Another imprint originally belonging to Wildstorm, this imprint is for mangas from japan which have been translated into English.

DC Archive Editions – The Archive edition is designed for reprints of old comic. Although most of these are ones belonging to DC such as old issues of Superman and Batman, some comics were originally published by different companies such as The Spirit which was published by Quality Comics.

Johnny DC – Comics about DCs licensed properties aimed at children such as Scooby-doo or The PowerPuff Girls.

Vertigo – One of the most acclaimed imprints as well as one of the oldest. Vertigo is made for DCs mature comics, many of which are often set in their own continuity.

Wildstorm – Originally a separate studio, Wildstorm was first part of Image comics (another comic publisher) and ended up being bought by DC. Generally Wildstorm is fairly independent of regular DC comics and publishes anything from adult orientated comics to comic versions of old cartoon favourites such as Thunder Cats and Speed Racer.
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#6Neeber(Topic Creator)Posted 1/4/2006 7:06:33 PMmessage detail
2.4
Q. You’ve hooked my interest. Where do I go to buy comics?
A. Hopefully you have a local comic book shop near you which sells everything you could possibly want in terms of comics. If there is one and you’re simply not aware of it, you might be able to find one here:

http://csls.diamondcomics.com/

Alternatively comics can be subscribed to. What this comes down to is that you give your money to the publisher and they send the comics to you when they’re published. You can only buy new comics in this manner. You can subscribe from the website of just about many publisher which produce comics, the main two being Marvel and DC:

https://subscriptions.marvel.com/v2/index.html

https://www.cambeywest.com/dcc/dccuniv.asp

If you’re looking for older issues, your best bet is at a local comic book shop, a website which specialises in old issues of comics (http://www.milehighcomics.com/ being an example) or e-bay.

2.5
Q. I’ve heard comic books can be worth quite a lot of money. If I buy comics books should I keep them in prime condition so I can sell them in a few decades and make a lot of money?
A. As a rule, no comic that you will buy new from a store will be worth anything worthwhile. The best you’ll probably be able to get is the price you paid for it, and that’s if you’re lucky. There was a lot of comic speculation in the 90s, which was certainly played upon with comics being released with special variant/foil/holographic covers so people would buy them in the hope their price would increase. Sadly this isn’t the case and any comic you buy should be bought purely for enjoyment value, not monetary speculation.

If your comic isn’t very old, several decades at least, the best chance you have of it being worth something is if it’s the first appearance of a character which becomes or has become famous. While the first appearance of someone like Venom occurred only around two decades ago, it might be worth something simply because the character went on to become so famous. It won’t reach anywhere near the prices truly old and famous comic such as Amazing Fantasy #15 are worth but it should be worth a fair amount more than the cover price.

Comics can be sent off to the comics grading company if you want to find out what they’re actually worth (http://www.cgccomics.com/), although you’ll have to pay for it. If you’re not 100% sure that the comic is worth something then it would be best to ask on the board.

2.6
Q. Okay, so my comics aren’t worth anything. I still want to keep them from getting ruined and torn simply so I can enjoy them.
A. Good on you. The typical investment a comic book fan makes for their comics is in plastic bags, backing boards and some form of storage. The plastic bags and backing boards can be bought at any self respecting comic book shop, while the container can usually be bought in any moderately sized town. There’s no strict rule to what to use and what fits best in the space you’ve got is usually what you should go for, shortboxes and filing cabinets being prime choices for me but really even a simple cardboard box can be used.

Graphic novels can pretty much take care of themselves and can be stored on a bookshelf, although they’re generally slightly taller than most books so it’s best to be sure they’ll fit.
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#7Neeber(Topic Creator)Posted 1/4/2006 7:07:30 PMmessage detail
3. Posting on the boards and miscellaneous

3.1
Q. Man, does Superman/Batman/Whoever suck or what?
A. People have their hits and misses, and that character’s obviously a miss for you. The most common person for this to crop up for is Superman, but it’s not exclusively based on him. You’re free to have your opinion in this matter, but a lot of people will probably disagree. Bringing up that you dislike someone simply for the sake of bringing it up is fairly useless, but that isn’t to say that you can’t ever say you dislike a character, just try to judge when’s right.

3.2
Q. Hey, can I ask who would win in a fight between two characters? What if one of them is from something other than a comic book?
A. Yes, feel free to ask either on these boards. Be aware that these boards have been around for a while though and quite a few different vs topics have been posted at one time or another. Some topic are simply ones that have been done several times before such as Superman vs Hulk, while others are ones which often cause flaming and so should be avoided. The latter sort is usually a comic book character faced off against a manga character.

3.3
Q. You’ve mentioned continuity a few times, what does this mean?
A. Continuity is essentially cause and effect. Comic books are like a soap opera most of the time. Each issue will follow roughly from the last one. Over time a person can make enemies, fall in love, etc. If someone is married and in love one issue then the next issue they should still be married and in love. Over time and the course of many issues their love might start to fade and they could get a divorce. However you wouldn’t expect that in one issue a character is happily married and the next he’s divorced for no reason. Comic Books are continuous and so follow what’s happened before, also known as their continuity.

Some comic books and issues are out of continuity. An example of this is the graphic novel Superman: Red Son I mentioned earlier. It shows what would have happened if Superman landed in Russia. However Superman actually landed in Kansas, and the whole Red Son story has no effect on the main Superman story that is ongoing in the comics. Television series, movies and videogames are almost without exception out of continuity.

3.4
Q. Right, and now Retcon. That’s got something to do with continuity, right?
A. Correct, Retcon meaning retroactive continuity. Things are topsy turvy in comic books. It might have appeared that someone plunged into lava and died, only for it to turn out that they teleported away at the last minute several years later. This is changing what has happened before, or retroactive continuity. Basically it means that you thought something happened before and then that’s changed to something different.
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#8Neeber(Topic Creator)Posted 1/4/2006 7:07:46 PMmessage detail
3.5
Q. I’ve gotten to like these characters I’ve been reading about. Are there any games or movies based on comic books?
A. Certainly, and more than you might think. For the sake of brevity I’ll only mention the major new releases and the more famous of the older releases.

Movie:

A History of Violence, Alien vs. Predator, Barbarella, Batman I - V, Blade I – III, Catwoman, Conan the Barbarian, Constantine, The Crow, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Flash Gordon, From Hell, Hellboy, Hulk, Judge Dredd, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Men in Black, Mystery Men, The Punisher, Road to Perdition, Sin City, Spawn, Spider-man I & II, Superman I – IV, X-men I & II

Videogames:

Aliens vs Predator, Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis, Batman Begins, Blade II, Catwoman, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, The Punisher, Spider-man, Spider-man 2, X-men, X-men: Legends

3.6
Q. Heh, those movies and games were pretty good. As they’re comic related, is it alright if I talk about them here?
A. Every game has it’s own forum here as well as forums designed for movies. Its probably best if you post them there, but for general thoughts and opinions about the games and movies there have never been any problems about posting on the board. As long as you don’t start asking specific questions like “Does anyone know how to do that uppercut move” then things should be fine. That sort of talk should occur at the games forum.

3.7
Q. Well it’s alright if I post about manga, right? They’re just Japanese comic books.
A. Actually, no. Manga have their own specific board to post on. Unless your post involves comic books in a significant way it doesn’t belong in this forum

3.8
Q. What about web comics? They’re comics so they count, right?
A. Yes, web comics are comics and to my knowledge there has never been any rule against posting about them here. No-one here really talks about web comics though, despite members being known to read them based on comments made when very rare web comic topics are made. Most major web comics have dedicated forums, so posting on those might be better than posting here simply because you’ll probably get a lot more responses.
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My name is Inigo Montoya...
#9Neeber(Topic Creator)Posted 1/4/2006 7:08:42 PMmessage detail
4. Marvel Comics

4.1
Q. Who are the major Heroes and Villains in the Marvel universe?
A. Well everyone has their own version of who’s major and not and a very long list could be made for this question, but I’ll try to keep it brief.

Heroes: Black Panther, Cable, Captain America, Daredevil, Deadpool, Ghost Rider, Hulk, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, Iron Man, Punisher, Reed Richards, She-Hulk Spider-man, The Thing, Thor, Wolverine

Villains: Abomination, Apocalypse, Dr Doom, Galactus, Green Goblin, Kingpin, Leader, Klaw, Loki, Magneto, Mandarin, Red Skull, Sabretooth, Thanos, Ultron, Venom

4.2
Q. What does 616 stand for? I hear people use it a lot.
A. In the Marvel universe there are many different parallel dimensions and they have all been numbered by organisations dealing with such thing, such as the time variance authority. 616 is the number of the main Marvel universe where almost all the comics take place. Indecently, 1610 is meant to be the number of the Ultimate universe.

4.3
Q. Who’s the most powerful person in the Marvel universe?
A. The answer is pretty much agreed to be The One Above All, often abbreviated to TOAA. He is considered all powerful in every possible way and the one true omnipotent creator deity. However not everyone believes he’s a real character as he’s never been shown and some references to him could be taken differently. It’s also worth noting that sometimes a different omnipotent deity is shown as the god of everything.
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Holder of the Gamefaqs Infinity Gauntlet and Gamefaqs Mimic
My name is Inigo Montoya...
#10Neeber(Topic Creator)Posted 1/4/2006 7:09:08 PMmessage detail
5. DC comics

5.1
Q. What’s this pre and post crisis I hear about?
A. In the DC universe there was a large event called the Crisis on Infinite Earths. This happened to clear up continuity and make things simpler. After the crisis many things were altered such as the origins of heroes, their histories and their powers. For instance there were two supermen before the crisis and the most powerful of them, often called Pre-crisis Superman, was quite often considerably more powerful than modern day Superman. There is also currently an event happening in DC comics called Infinite Crisis, which is a follow up to the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

5.2
Q. Who’s the most powerful person in the DC universe?
A: The answer is pretty much indisputably the Presence. The Presence is shown as being almost identical to the Christian God and is believed to be all-powerful. At the moment his whereabouts are unknown as he has left heaven.

5.3
Q. Who are the major Heroes and Villains in the DC universe?
A. Well everyone has their own version of who’s major and not and a very long list could be made for this question, but I’ll try to keep it brief.

Heroes: Aquaman, Batgirl, Batman, Catwoman, Firestorm, Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Nightwing, Plastic man, Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman

Villains: Anti-Monitor, Bane, Bizzaro, Black Adam, Black Manta, Darkseid, Deathstroke, Doomsday, Dr Light, Joker, Lex Luthor, Sinestro, Red Hood, Zoom

5.4
Q. What does DC mean?
A. DC stands for Detective Comics, and yes that does mean DC comics stands for Detective comics comics.

Well that’s it. I hope that answered all your questions and was easily understandable but I’m only human, so if you have any questions or you think there’s anything that should be added then feel free to post.
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Holder of the Gamefaqs Infinity Gauntlet and Gamefaqs Mimic
My name is Inigo Montoya...