How to read 'Runaways' -- and how to keep it running

Previously: I’m helping Marvel bring back my favorite comic! It’s called Runaways, and it’s great. 

A number of readers have told me they plan on diving into comics for the very first time to read the new Runaways series I'm writing for Marvel.

THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY. First, because I’m grateful that people want to read the things I write. And second, because COMICS ARE GREAT, AND I WANT YOU TO HAVE GREAT THINGS.

But I'm also hearing from a lot of you that you don't know where to start...

"I can't wait to read your new comic book! How does one... acquire such a thing?"

THIS IS NOT A STUPID QUESTION. Comics can be really confusing and intimidating. (Even for people who have been reading comics for 30 years and now work in comics.)

The goal of this post is to make it REALLY EASY for you to find and read Runaways. I don't want you to have any Cath-avoiding-the-dining-hall feelings. (And I also don't want the book to get canceled before all the characters get their big-kiss moments.)

So let’s start with some comic book basics...

I've been asked if I’m writing a novel about Marvel’s Runaways. Nope, this is a monthly comic book. I’m the writer, and Kris Anka is the artist. It kicks off in September.

A comic book works sort of like a TV show. Companies like Marvel commit to a certain number of monthly issues. And if the series sells well, they keep making them. Like TV shows, comics get canceled if numbers are low, sometimes before they’ve found their audience.

Comics read like a TV show, too – long story arcs told over multiple issues. It’s an exciting way to read: lots of cliffhangers, lots of looking forward to the next installment. When a comic book plot pays off after six months, it’s deeply satisfying.

"Do I need to learn 500 years of Marvel history to understand it?"

Heck no. If you’re not a regular comics reader, I think Runaways could be a really good first book for you. I’m writing it so that it’s welcoming for new readers. And Runaways has always operated sort of independent of the larger Marvel Universe, so you don’t really have to know the lay of the land. Plus, it’s a relatively young series. You could read the original run over one (great!) weekend if you felt like it. (More on that here.)  

"Yes, but how do I actually purchase this comic book?"

You actually have a few options here …

1. Pre-order from your local comic book store.
This helps the series the most. It lets comic stores know the book is in demand, so they can order more copies -- which keeps a book from being cancelled. You can even set up a “pull file,” which is like an in-store subscription. You can do this right now! Pre-orders can make or break a comic book before it even hits shelves. (Here's a Vox story that breaks this down more dramatically.) Don't know your local comic book store? Check this international locator. 

2. Buy a digital copy.
You can buy and read Runaways online at or on Comixology. Comixology is a good choice if you think you might like to read other digital comics, too. 

3. Through the mail.
Marvel still sells monthly comics subscriptions! This is a good option if you don’t have a comic book store near you, you hate leaving the house, or you love getting mail. (Or all three!) (It will not surprise you to hear that I used to buy my comics this way.) Subscribe to Runaways through Marvel here. Also, some comic book shops offer pull lists through the mail. Here's how to order through Midtown Comics in New York City. 

4. Wait for the trade paperback.
Comic books are collected in five- or six-issue collections that are sold wherever books are sold. I read a lot of comics like this. The downside of this option is that a title can be canceled while you wait for the trade. It’s kind of like expressing support after the fact. THAT SAID, this is a fun way to read comics; it’s how comics get into libraries; and I’ll take your eyeballs anyway I can get them. 💛

Updated, September 2019: You can now catch up on Runaways in six-issue collections. Find them at your local comic shop, bookstores and libraries. The first one looks like this —

Runaways trade cover.jpg

Still have questions?

For a more comprehensive explainer, check out How To Buy Comics: A Beginner’s Guide on The Mary Sue.

You can also ask me questions directly on Twitter. I'm @rainbowrowell, and I'm excited to talk about this stuff!