I used to be a big comic book fanatic as a kid. I used to pick up Conan, SGT. Rock, Weird War Tales, Haunted Tank and occasionally a super hero book-either Captain America, Thor, or Batman. Somewhere about 7th or 8th grade my brother and I were staying with some friends, and we ended up reading The Defenders, X-Men, and Marvel Universe encyclopedias. That's when it went from occasional grocery store pick up to full blown collecting. G.I. Joe, X-Men, New Mutants, Marvel universe and tons and tons of other books. Through my sophomore year of college I was a regular user and then, well I lost interest. Fast forward 15 years and I still enjoy them but I am pretty picky about buying anything. Mostly its just trades at this point. A lot of the b/w marvel collections, the new Savage Sword of Conan collections (waaaay to racy when I was a tween for mom to okay that purchase) but not a lot of new stuff.
So as a picky reader let me make a couple recommendations:
There is really only a few series I actively collect and two of them are written by one guy.
First, think about Night of the Living Dead, or Dawn of the Dead...now imagine instead of the movie ending..the story just kept going, that's sort what The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman is like. It's a zombie series, but the horror (as in any good zombie story) is not about the living dead...it's about how we as humans interact and treat one another when the thin veneer of society is stripped away. Great story, great writing, great art, and it is a must read. Plus its in black & white, which I think is perfect for this particular story. There 10 Trades out and you can get them for under $10 each.
If you are a super hero fan I also HIGHLY recommend Invincible by Robert Kirkman. I don't want to spoil it for you but it takes what was great about spider-man (average kid gets powers) and goes through all the standard tropes of superheroes and teams, turns them on their head and manages to be thoughtful, playful, exciting, and heroic without being snide or mocking. It is a truly heroic and fun title. These are collected in trades again a little looking and you can get them for under $10.
There is talk of an Invincible movie...and HBO may turn Walking Dead into a series...so get on them now before everyone else jumps on the bandwagon.
Okay here's my "it's new and cool, so you should read it now" pick. Think about alien invasion films...like Independence Day or War of the Worlds..the aliens are beaten and the credits roll. My question was always, "So how are we going to rebuild society and government and everything else after aliens destroyed everything? I mean, yeah the aliens are toast but now what?" Well somebody has put pen to paper and answered that question that has burned in my brain for years. You too? Good. Pick up Resurrection by Marc Guggenheim. You can get the collection of the first 6 issues+the 2008 annual in one trade for $6!!! That's 184 pages of goodness my friend...call it a sci-fi fans stimulus package.