Mike’s Medicated Ramblings, Day 3.

§ October 11th, 2006 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Mike’s Medicated Ramblings, Day 3.

I’m still trying to recover from my illness, so I’ve not been doing a whole lot of keeping up with online comics news and weblogging shenanigans and whatnot…er, not that I ever do, of course. However, I have been thinking a bit about this hobby in which I find myself involved, and I’ve been just sorta throwing my thoughts out there on this site over the last couple of days. I realize they’re hardly well thought-out, or come to any kind of reasonable conclusion, but I hope you folks will excuse my self-indulgence. Well, my extra self-indulgence, since weblogs are kinda self-indulgent to begin with.

Anyway, I did spot, on some site or another, a particular bit of business I wanted to address. It doesn’t really matter where I spotted it, because we’ve all seen some variation of it:

Company A does something Reader X doesn’t like. Reader X then declares publicly that he is going to drop all of Company A’s books off of his regular reading list in protest of whatever it was that Company A happened to do.

Of course, Reader X will eventually back off this stance because whatever Company A did is 1) probably no big deal, 2) if it’s some kind of “permanent” change to a character, it’ll be undone eventually, or 3) if it’s some kind of company-wide change in direction Reader X disagrees with, sooner or later Company A will publish something Reader X won’t be able to resist buying and he’ll quietly end his boycott.

I’ve seen examples of this in-store, such as when one customer told me he was going to drop all DC books from his comic saver list because of the line-wide price increases from $2.50 to $2.99. However, in the wake of Infinite Crisis, he found himself intrigued by enough of the new directions of the books that he ended up adding nearly every DC Universe title to his pull list.

And I’ve seen this on a more limited scale…I think both pal Dorian and I have noted that when Grant Morrison took over X-Men, a number of the regular readers of the book went “Ew, weird, I’m dropping it until he’s gone.” And then, beginning a few months later, these same fans started buying the issues they skipped as back issues to fill the holes in their collections.

Plus, I’ve had enough people say things to me like “I REFUSE TO BUY ANY DC…well, except Sandman, that’s pretty good” and then they’re buying the Death mini-series, and the Dreaming spin-off, and the Lucifer spin-off….

Or they dropped all the Marvel titles in disgust, because, say, they didn’t like the whole “Gwen Stacy was pregnant with the Green Goblin’s kids” thing, but then they hear Joss Whedon was gonna write some X-title, and suddenly, they find themselves back in the fold.

So, yeah, I’m guessing that message board bluster about dropping everything a company is doing is more or less just that…bluster. I’m sure maybe someone, somewhere, dropped a company’s output in protest and stuck to his guns…but for the most part, I call “yeah, right” on these sorts of declarations.

I wonder if other publishing concerns have this problem? (“I hated the ending of Stephen King’s From a Buick 8! I’m never buying another book from Scribner ever again!”)

Of course, people drop books all the time, but they usually don’t make a big production out of it. Either it’s out of purely financial concerns, or they don’t care for a direction a particular comic has taken, or they just plain lost interest…eh, it happens, and it’s done on a case-by-case basis, not a blanket “now I hate DC because its run by jerks, so I’m dropping all their books” decision.

I’ve written about my decision to drop the Flash comic after reading it for a couple of decades, as the new creative team and direction were, um, not really to my taste. And I followed that up with a brief discussion of why I dropped a handful of other titles. In short, not because I was trying to take a stand, or trying to “send a message” to the publishers in question that they weren’t going to notice anyway, but simply because…I didn’t feel like reading those titles any more. Well, I did kind of make a deal out of it, since, as a sinner, I’m gonna talk about this sort of thing on my weblog, but you get what I mean.

And that, in a roundabout way, brings me to Marvel Comics.

I used to read a lot more Marvels when I was younger. I used to read Uncanny X-Men, Fantastic Four, Thor, Amazing Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, various mini-series…blah blah blah, you don’t need me to list them all. But I was pretty much as mired in the Marvel Universe as I was, and still am, in the DC Universe.

But, over the years, I find myself buying fewer and fewer titles from Marvel, not out of some conscious decision to weed Marvel out of my life. Rather, it’s just because the stuff Marvel is publishing just isn’t getting my attention.

I do love most of the classic Marvel characters, for example. I know people probably assumed I was making fun of Wolverine during “Wolverine Week” (starting here) and…yeah, okay, I was having some fun with fan perceptions of the character, but honestly, I do like Wolverine. It’s just that, 99% of the time, nothing’s being done with the character that I can enjoy. I liked the Claremont/Miller mini-series, I liked some of the issues of his initial regular series, and of course when Morrison got his dirty, dirty hands on him, but, yeah, that’s pretty much it. I love the Fantastic Four, too…I own the Marvel Masterworks reprints of the Lee/Kirby stuff, and there have been occasional periods on the book that I’ve enjoyed (the last being Mark Waid’s tenure), but there have been long, long gaps between those moments.

Compared to the number of Marvels I used to get, my current list ain’t nuthin’:

Punisher – Garth Ennis gives me what I want from a Punisher comic…guns, violence, and irredeemable bastards.

Nextwave – Warren Ellis plays with the Marvel Universe, making it fun and silly when everyone else seems dead set on making it oppressive and morose.

X-Factor – Just because of Peter David. And Strong Guy. If you don’t love Strong Guy, your heart must be a tiny piece of coal.

Hulk – I’ve been reading Hulk comics for nearly a quarter of a century now, and, surprisingly, aside from the rare misstep, the book has maintained a high level of compelling and interesting storytelling. In the Hulk. Yeah, I know how that sounds.

Ultimates 2 – A comic stuffed full of unlikeable characters that somehow manage to keep your attention anyway. May be dropped when Jeph Loeb takes over the book, if his run is more like the end of his Superman/Batman run (confused and disjointed) and less like the beginning of that run (big, stupid fun).

Thunderbolts – The most Marvel-y Marvel book I read, with bickering heroes, villains changing sides, straightforward super-action, the works. Probably one of the only direct descendents of the classic ’60s “House of Ideas” that Marvel publishes.

…And I’ll at least look at Warren Ellis’ newuniverse when that comes out, because, hey, it’s Ellis doing the New Universe, how can you not look?

That’s pretty much it. And, again, it’s not because I have anything against Marvel. These are just the titles that have managed to keep my attention, whether it’s from my particular enjoyment of the character (such as the Hulk) or because of the creative team (I don’t think I’d be reading an X-Factor book not by David, Strong Guy or no Strong Guy).

And there you go. Like I said at the beginning, I’m just throwing my random thoughts out there, so I’m sorry I don’t have a proper conclusion wrapping this all up. Well, aside from “buy comics you like, regardless of company,” but that should be self-evident, right? Right.

And for reading all that, have another disturbing comics image:

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