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A Guide to Collecting Comic Books 
by Hilton Collins June 21, 2005

When you decide to read a comic book, you’ll find as many types as you will novels. The comic book medium offers whimsical fun, epic adventure, gritty realism, and everything else you can think of. This article introduces readers to comic books and shows them what to expect when they go shopping for them. It also tells them how to store their comics to prevent wear and tear.

Entertainment—we all love it, and thankfully, there are plenty of ways to get it, from reading a great story to viewing a beautiful picture.  If you like to do either of these things, or both, then you may want to try the medium that combines art and writing wonderfully: comic books.

They tell all kinds of stories, so if you’re new to them or just want to try different types, it helps to know what’s out there and make the most of your hobby.  They can thrill you, scare you, make you laugh, or stimulate your mind.  No matter what your tastes are, you can find something you’ll like in the venerable and diverse comic book medium.  But first, a little introduction…

What Comic Books Are

Here’s what you probably already know.  They’re a popular form of visual communication that delivers messages through illustrations and words commonly as multi-page publications printed in monthly editions.  Of course, the number of pages and the frequency of new issues varies from publication to publication, but all comic books share their basic, unique storytelling style in common.  Each one is a collection of words and pictures presented in sequential format to form a narrative.  Every page is divided into a series of pictures called panels, and each panel contains an image of some kind and usually shapes like ovals, clouds, or rectangles with words inside.  The words typically depict the speaking or thoughts of characters in the images or the story’s narrator.  Images can be anything from paintings to computer-generated scenes, but they’re generally the hand-drawn artwork of an artist often called a penciller.  The lines of the penciller’s drawings are reinforced by ink added by an inker who’s either someone else or the same person who drew the pencils.

The average comic book is around 22 to 30-pages-long, more or less.  Longer ones are called graphic novels, often printed on thicker, glossier paper.  Graphic novels usually collect multiple issues of comic books that have already been printed into one large volume.  Other times, they are their own original stories that have never been printed before.

Why Read Them?

There’s more variety to comic books than many think.  A lot of people hear the words “comic book” and think of good-looking fitness types who wear their underwear over their pants and use powers to fight crime.  They think of superheroes.  While this describes a famous portion of comic book stories, it’s by no means indicative of the whole industry.  Their stories can be poignant, socially relevant, dark, light, action-oriented, and everything in between.  You may be surprised at the following descriptions of some of the most lauded titles from recent times.

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