When starting to read comics, it can be overwhelming to dive straight into the vast world of superheroes. The decades of mythology and sheer amount of series per (some) characters can make it difficult to know where to begin. There are, of course, many other options, and if love a particular film, TV series, or game, picking up the tie-in comic can be a less bewildering way to start.
I started reading comics thanks to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After binging all seven seasons in college, I checked the first volume of the tie-in comic out of the library. In spite of loving Batman films as a kid, Buffy was my first foray into comics because I knew exactly where to start. I had finished watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7 so, obviously, I would start reading the comics beginning with Season 8. It was an easy transition and I quickly progressed to reading X-Men comics (thanks to those written by Joss Whedon) and other superhero and indie stuff as I gained confidence.
If you are wanting to get into comics and there is a film, TV series, or game you love (especially in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres), there is a good chance there’s a comic to go along with it. While this will give you a good starting point, your knowledge of the characters, world, and story can also help you as you get comfortable reading comics for the first time.
For television fans, the world of tie-in comics is particularly broad. TV and comics make excellent companions because they are both highly serialized. While each week TV leaves you waiting for the next episode, comics will do the same thing on a month by month basis. Occasionally, these series will be arranged into seasons, but many times they simple fall into story arcs or one-off adventures. There are comics, such a Buffy and Smallville, which continue their TV series long after the last episode airs. Others bridge the gaps between seasons or episodes, rounding out some characters and giving others a chance to live again. Comics can also focus on side characters (Arrow: Dark Archer, Giles) or allow people to meet who never would on screen (Star Trek: The Next Generations/Doctor Who: Assimilation2).
The wonderful thing about comics based on TV series is that network budgets, actors leaving, and certain storytelling constraints are no longer an issue. The Doctor, the Enterprise, and others can have adventures that could never make it onto screen and the cast of characters can grow and diversify. It can go wrong, but it can also be a lot of fun.
Films have also developed a vast worlds beyond the screen. Star Wars, with its new canon, is particularly prolific with comics sprinkled all throughout its timeline and universe. You can read series about Darth Vader, Poe, Leia, Mace Windu, Obi-Wan and Anakin, Captain Phasma, Darth Maul, Lando, Chewbacca, and of course, Han Solo. Beyond Star Wars, there’s a large stash of comics for the ‘80s film lover. In recent years, comics based on Labyrinth, Big Trouble in Little China, Lost Boys, and Alien have all been released. Prequel comics also exist for the Marvel Cinematic Universe–which can be a comfortable place for film fans start in on superheroes.
Comics have allow films that will never get a big screen sequel to live again, and they have also expanded many a movie’s mythology in a way a normal film’s runtime wouldn’t allow. If you were ever curious what Darth Vader was doing between Episodes or how Jareth came to the Labyrinth, this sort of tie-in is definitely for you.
While my familiarity with video games is practically zero (I had a hand-me-down NES and with five games. That’s it.), I want to point out that comics tied-in to popular video games definitely exist. Where I work, manga series based on Pokémon are popular with kids (which is adorable), but there are plenty of comic series for adults too. From Assassin’s Creed to Street Fighter, there are series available for all kinds of tastes and interests. Also, if you’re into tabletop gaming rather than video gaming (like me), there are series based on Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder to up your RPG game and throw you deeper into those worlds. There’s something for just about everyone (unless your fondest video game memory is playing Alfred Chicken).
I hope this overview has given you some ideas of where start if you want to try tie-in comics. To help, I’m including specific recommendations for TV, film, and games. Many of these are relatively new so, hopefully, they shouldn’t be difficult to find at your local comic shop, library, or bookstore.
For the TV Fan
- Buffy Season 8 Vol. 1
- Arrow Season 2.5
- Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Vol. 1: Revolutions of Terror
- Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse
- Star Trek: The Next Generation Mirror Broken
- Batman ‘66 Vol. 1
- Riverdale Vol. 1
For the Animation Fan
- Bee & PuppyCat Vol. 1
- Gravity Falls: Lost Legends (Releases July 24, 2018)
- Steven Universe Vol. 1
- Adventure Time Vol. 1
- Over the Garden Wall Vol. 1
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – North and South Part One
- Batman Adventures Vol. 1
For the Film Fan
- Star Trek: Boldly Go Vol. 1
- Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 1
- Star Wars: Forces of Destiny
- Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero
- Clueless: Senior Year
- Lost Boys Vol. 1
- Labyrinth: Coronation (Currently in Single Issues)
- Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War Prelude
For the Gamer
- Tomb Raider Vol. 1 Season of the Witch
- Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate Vol.1
- The Last of Us: American Dreams
- The Witcher Vol. 1
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Telltale Games
- Batman: Arkham Unhinged Vol. 1