Comics Newsletter

My Personal Comics Reading Challenge for 2019

Jaime Herndon


Jaime Herndon finished her MFA in nonfiction writing at Columbia, after leaving a life of psychosocial oncology and maternal-child health work. She is a writer, editor, and book reviewer who drinks way too much coffee. She is a new-ish mom, so the coffee comes in extra handy. Twitter: @IvyTarHeelJaime

It’s a new year, and there are reading challenges galore (including our very own Read Harder challenge, which is amazing). But as I was looking through various challenges, though there would be a prompt here or there about comics and graphic novels, these challenges are far and few between. I get it; it’s a single genre and so a bit harder to reach for more varied prompts. I’ve only been reading comics/graphic novels for a little less than three years, and it always amazes me (in a good way) at how much I still can read and explore in the genre. There are so many arcs to read and creators and illustrators to learn about—and the backstories and different incarnations of characters astounds me. Which is why I wanted to put together a comics reading challenge of my own. I want to push myself to not just read the comics I love, but pick up something new (or a lot of new things!) this year.

Comics can be overwhelming, and especially if you’re new to the genre, it can be intimidating. You don’t know where to start, you’re wondering why characters look different or have different origin stories or different names, depending on the arc, and the timelines aren’t necessarily static or linear, which might drive you a bit mad (as it did me). A reading challenge is a good way, then, to get your feet wet and immerse yourself in the comics world. It breaks you out of your comfort zone and exposes you to stories you might not have picked up otherwise. I named it the “Comics Are For Everyone” challenge because even now, I’m always dismayed if someone is surprised that I read comics, or tries to “discredit” me somehow if I haven’t read all the issues of a certain run, or whatever. Comics are for everyone. Really.

My thinking behind each prompt was ideally a trade paperback (TPB) when naming a brand or character, since this gives you more exposure, but this isn’t always possible. So really, either a TPB or a floppy for each prompt is fine (although I suspect you might get more out of it if you do a TPB).

Here are the prompts I developed for my “Comics Are For Everyone” challenge:

  1. Comic that isn’t Marvel or DC
  2. Comic written by an author of color
  3. Graphic Memoir
  4. Comic that has been banned/challenged
  5. Comic related to a movie/TV show
  6. Comic written by an LGBTQIA individual
  7. Comic that has won a national award
  8. Comic written by a woman
  9. Travel graphic memoir
  10. Manga book
  11. Graphic novelization of a book
  12. Comic with a female lead
  13. Political or historical graphic novel/memoir
  14. The first 2 volumes in a series
  15. Non-superhero comic
  16. Bronze Age (1970-1985)
  17. Silver Age (1956-1970)
  18. Golden Age (1938-1956ish)
  19. Middle grade graphic novel
  20. Avengers
  21. Wonder Woman
  22. Comic funded by crowdfunding
  23. X-Men
  24. Justice League
  25. Comic recommended by a comic store employee (bonus if it’s from a Valkyrie, aka a female employee)
  26. Black Panther
  27. Comic published by Valiant
  28. Horror/scary comic
  29. Comic in the Spider-Verse (can include Spider-Gwen, Spider-Woman, etc)
  30. Jessica Jones
  31. Book about comics/comic book industry/having to do with comics
  32. Ms. Marvel
  33. Comic published by Image
  34. Comic from a villain’s perspective
  35. Captain Marvel
  36. Comic published by BOOM!
  37. Comic published to raise money for a charity

I’m pretty excited to get started! Will you be doing any reading challenges, self-made or otherwise?