Last week you asked how I find interesting new comics to read. Hmm, I am a professional comic book reader, as I like to say. What does that mean? I read comics even if I find them unappealing at first sight, and also if by my personal taste they belong to the basket labelled “Naah”.
But this wasn’t always like that. I think it all started when I was really young. I would sneak out to the living room really early in the morning and wait in front of the tv to watch the only cartoon that will be broadcasted that day. Very often, to not wake up anyone in the house, I would turn the volume down. What happens next is it either keeps me engaged, or I find it boring, especially if the sound is important for understanding the images. Years passed, and I continued disliking certain styles and narrative approaches, and I did it with comics as well! I was judging them only by looking at their design.
Luckily enough, I met my best friend, who is a 3d expert (https://www.artstation.com/stravamir), and he always knew a good piece of art to recommend. I started looking at animations that I would never choose myself, and reading stuff I found ugly, just to be able to discuss them with him. I stopped judging books by their cover, and then the world opened!
When I moved to Belgium, finding good comics became easier. Whenever I pass by a comic book store, I check the windows, to see what is new, or just go in and take a closer look. Ofc, that means I will buy the ones that caught my eye visually. To avoid that trap, I check goodreads.com and their rating of graphic novels. Basically, people are rating the books they read and leave reviews! The right place to start your search.
Also, npr.org did something amazing! A few years ago, they made a list of 100 graphic novels their readers listed as favourites. The great thing about this list is that it has a short explanation of the book, so it makes the decision easier 🙂 On this link, you can find the list.
But there are other ways to find your next favourite graphic novel! I love asking my friends and colleagues for recommendations! Every once in a while, I check what they are reading, ask some questions to see if I would like to have some of the stuff they read!
There is only one problem! Hoarding graphic novels can be a problem if you are young and want to travel the world, or you change places very often, as I used to do. That is why I sometimes opt for the local or university’s library to take a look. Having access to the library keeps your hoarding behaviour in check, supports the library, and leads to new discoveries. Librarians are bookworms that can surprise you if you dare to ask them!
When you are travelling abroad, check their local comic stores for the names of the artists that you can later search for. I enjoy being able to read my books, that is why I would always rather check if the artist has something in the language I speak. Most likely, the local comic stores abroad may not have it. Lately, I started buying books in other languages as well, but it is not enjoyable as actually understanding the story. One of the biggest discoveries is the Museum of Drawing and Illustration in Madrid ( https://museo.abc.es/?lang=en ). Every time I am there, I go for a visit, because there is always an exhibition that is worth checking out and the library where you can discover new artists!
Another great way to discover new graphic novels are comics festivals! Last two year I spent some time in Angouleme in France, visiting the Festival and collaborating with other artists. Some of the great discoveries happened during that Festival. I met many artists, got to talk to them, and ask them what they like to read. I even met one of my fav comics artists there! But be aware, these kinds of activities can be expensive (especially if you come back home fit a suitcase full of new books)! I recommend finding some companions to share the housing/food costs and exploring festivals together. Check if your university can plan it as a collective activity and get the tickets cheaper/for free. Check if the local newspapers accept amateur reportages from the Festival in exchange for paying you the ticket… Be creative 🙂
And my last recommendation is to find your crew with whom you can discuss comics and keep each other updated about the ones you read. If you don’t have your comics crew yet, you are welcome to join my small community on Instagram! There I can’t wait to hear what you are reading, how much you like it and which books you are recommending!