I vaguely remember reading comics as a child, but I was never particularly involved with them. I occasionally read other people’s issues of Superman and Spider-Man, mainly because they were there, rather than because of any actual interest. Then I grew up, and I stopped reading even those rare stories.
That was until relatively recently. One fateful day, I stopped into my local comic shop with a comic-loving friend. While she browsed, I happened to spy the first issue of Doctor Who: The Forgotten on the new release shelf. As a Doctor Who fan, I was intrigued. There was a new story, one that wasn’t shown on television! So I bought it… and then I bought the next issue… and all the ones after that. When that story ended, I started reading the next one.
Three and a half years have passed since that day, and I find myself going into the comic shop once a week to either pick up new stories, browse, or just say hi.
What changed? How did I go from a non-comic reading fan to someone who is on a first name basis with the employees of multiple comic shops?
My theory? Tie-in comics are a gateway drug.
You start with one, and you’re absolutely positive you’ll only ever want to read that one. But whether it’s because you’ve become acclimated to reading the comic format or you’re just spending more time in the store, you suddenly find yourself looking at other comics. Maybe it starts with other television show tie-ins, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe the shop employees recommend something, maybe a cover just catches your attention. You buy one, out of… curiosity. Somehow one turns into two turns into three and you’re hooked.
Some people started reading comics after seeing the movies that were based on them. Fans of the Iron Man movie wanted more, so they started reading the Iron Man comics. That led to reading the Avengers, which led to reading Captain America. The Batman movie could lead to Batman comics to Justice League to Green Lantern. And you’re addicted.
You realise you’ve somehow become a reader of comic books.
When I bought that first issue of Doctor Who: The Forgotten, I would have sworn it was the only comic I was interested in reading. I can justify reading the Doctor Who comics that came after, I’m a fan of the show after all. But the last superhero movie I can remember seeing was Iron Man. So how do I explain the fact that I’m now reading every Batman story I can get my hands on and still wanting more?
Answer: Tie-in comics are either magic or a gateway drug. And gateway drug sounds more interesting as a title.