Finally slaying the ancient dragon that was my Guide to Legion of Super-Heroes inspired me to keep track of all of the many steps and processes it takes to put together a new comic book guide.
I think more people making more great guides to consuming comics (and other media!) makes the internet better for all fans. I love Omar’s Near Mint Condition video Reading Orders, How To Love Comics’s guide to reading your first comic, ComicsXF Primers, and ComicReleases solicits roundsups. All of them overlap with what I’m doing a little bit, but they’re all helping people find the comics they might love, which is why I started doing this in the first place.
Below I’ve listed my process for putting together a comic guide, which is also how I build a personal reading list or new comic collection! When I get interested in a new character, author, or title for the first time, my approach is almost identical to guide-building, even if I don’t plan on making a guide.
Throughout the list, I used my well-established Excalibur Guide and my new Patrons-only Legion of Super-Heroes Guides as examples. I tried to share some interesting behind-the-scenes nuggets along the way for all of you process wonks.
Feel free to use this guidance to help you put together your own handy guides, whether that’s for personal use or on a website. I certainly have some “secret sauce” and proprietary tools that help me make my guides so definitive, but anyone could work through this checklist to figure out a comics property from top to bottom. It takes me anywhere from 4 to 30 hours, depending on the complexity of the character or title I’m researching.
Here’s the breakdown of my steps.
- Create a list of series or volumes
- Decide on scope
- Organize (but don’t over-sort)
- Research your series list (this will include narrowing and expanding)
- Compile a collected editions list
- Assemble the stuff
- Conduct a clean-up pass
- Consider the meta-data
- Enjoy! (No, really! Make a plan for enjoying this hard work.)
- Schedule your first check-up