Everyone has a comfort zone—a place where they go and don’t venture far from. This is especially true in comics. Once we reach a place where we’re comfortable, we don’t venture far from that. Seemingly for many of us, that comfort zone would be superheroes, and within that, Marvel and DC. Although these two companies are the most visible, they’re really the smallest piece of the comics pie. I like to think of them as the iPhone: highly visible and often emulated, but really only a small fraction of the smartphone market.
Getting out of the comfort zone can take some doing. Real effort is needed in order to overcome the inertia that comfort brings. It isn’t like trying to listen to new music: all you have to do is listen to the radio and turn the dial. A new show on television? Change the channel. But for comics, because they aren’t often free (or comes free with a paid subscription to something else), you have to want to read something completely different, and very often you have to pay for that. It’s a challenge, because very often, that something “completely different” can be found outside of the top fifteen publishers, which is very often considered to be the small press.
That challenge is compounded by creators in the small press and their bad comics. It’s hard to get excited over a comic that you know doesn’t have a professional gloss to it. A lot of times more than just a little rough around the edges, bad comics can kill the enthusiasm of attempting something new.
What do you do? What can be done? Stay in the comfort zone, or try something new and attempt to ignore deficiencies that may be found? Where do you even begin to look when you’re not at a convention?
The best place would be Previews. At least in there, you know there’s some curation going on. These are books that Diamond believes it can sell, and you as a customer can help the creators by ordering books out of Previews through your shop.
The next place would be Comixology. While there’s no curation outside of a ban on porn, Comixology makes it relatively easy to buy comics from the comfort of your home, and you don’t have to keep physical copies hanging around.
Next would be webcomics and hubs where people go to find something to read. Or you could do a search in your search engine of choice to see if there are any kind of webcomics out there for your tastes.
Stepping out of your comfort zone can be a challenge, but once overcome, it can open up whole new worlds to explore. You just have to want to do it.