Comic books. I don’t read ‘em anymore. Why? Well, I’ll tell you.
First, though, let me preface my normal “Internet Yelling” with this: I like comic books. I’m not knocking anybody who reads them, because I used to read them. I don’t believe that comics are the province of man-baby nerds vicariously wanking it over adolescent power fantasies. Yes, those people exist and read the comics, but that’s not an indictment against the medium. Hey, psychopaths play video games, but video games don’t make the psychopaths. Same thing, here.
Also, it’s not about “growing up.” I haven’t graduated to like, James Joyce or Jodi Picoult or something (and, hey, Jodi Picoult wrote for Wonder Woman, so, y’know, eat it and prove it! Yeah! No, I don’t know what it means, either. It’s something my wife and I sometimes say to one another, as if to one-up the other with a gibberish shit-talking phrase. “Eat it and prove it!” is that phrase. Take it for yourselves, and enjoy it. Uh-oh. I think this parenthetical is out of control. Shit. Okay, we’re going to slowly waaaaalk away from the paragraph and just… shhh. Don’t make any noise. He’s not looking! Go! Go!).
Whew, okay. Made it. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Comic books. I don’t read them. Here’s why.
You Are Too Expensive
No, seriously, comic books, you’re damn expensive. You’re what, now, $2.99-3.99 for an average issue? I’m done reading most comics in about 10-15 minutes. That’s an expensive high. I think I’m better off with meth in this recession.
Me Like Words
Listen, I get it. Art is pretty. You can do all this cool filmic stuff where you have nine panels of two characters looking at one another, carrying a megaton of subtext in those terrible gazes, but I don’t want to look at a comic book, I want to read a comic book. Say what you want about Chris Claremont, but at least the guy put a fuck-basket full of words on the page. It was a goddamn meal, people. Those nine wordless panels? My eyes just sliiiide over them like butter on a hot pan. The fewer the words, the faster I read the comic. The faster I read the comic, the more expensive the hobby becomes. If I’m pitching, say, a reasonable $30 a week at comics, I’m getting ten comics which will probably take me about two-to-three hours to read. That’s a very expensive movie. Look at it this way: if I pay $50-60 for a video game and I only get eight hours of content out of it, I’m pissed.Plus, $30 a week is $1500 a year. That’s not chump change. What am I, buying cigarettes?
Where Do I Buy You?
It’s getting harder and harder for me to buy comic books. I have to track down a comic book store the way you might hunt a serial killer through a snowy forest. I think there’s one up in the Lehigh Valley, maybe 30-45 minutes away? Then I know there’s one in Q-Mart, but that place doesn’t seem too up-to-date, plus… I mean, it’s Q-Mart. When they say “Farmer’s Market,” what they really mean is, “Place Where You Might Get Tetanus Or Chlamydia.” They actually have a parrot there with a huge featherless goiter. I’m always afraid that bird’s going to attack me, and rub his goiter on me.
Enough With The Superheroes
I like superheroes. I do. I have no complaints about them. Again, I hear the chorus — they’re sexist, they’re racist, they’re for 30-year-old white males who have the intellectual capacity and emotional maturity of 12-year-olds. Okay, fine. I don’t buy it. Maybe it’s because I’m a 33-year-old white male with the intellectual capacity and emotional maturity of a 12-year-old? I dunno. My problem isn’t with superheroes, but it is with the sheer preponderance of superheroics in comic books. Here, let me make up a number that’s probably in no way accurate: superheroes seem to comprise about 75% of the comic books on shelves. I mean, I like horror movies. A lot. But I’m glad that 75% of movies aren’t horror movies, y’know? Not only is that one solid way of diluting the quality and the impact of your product, but it’s just plain crazy-talk.
Your Tangled Web Is Sticky And Annoying
This is really only true of superhero comics (particularly of DC and Marvel’s ilk), but man, you guys put up a hard barrier of entry. I used to read comics as a kid, and later as a college student (my teen years has a gap–I think I was trying to get laid or something, which probably explains any behavior of mine during high school, good or bad). But even now, if I try to even grasp what’s going on in comics, I come out feeling like someone just punched me in the nuts. I get dizzy. A little queasy. No good.
The whole web is too tangled. It’s too much information. This book connects to that; you have to know what went on over the last year to make sense of this; ow, ow, ow, my balls, my brain. Imagine that buying a book from the bookstore means you have to collect previous prequels to that book and maybe also buy this other book series from this other author just to get everything of what’s going on. It feels difficult, even if it really isn’t. And again, this might very well be what people want. Practically speaking, it seems like a barrier to entry is going to have a negative impact on sales, but I don’t know if that holds true. I only know that it holds true for me. I don’t have the time — or, as noted, the $$ — to read comics.
So, What Have We Learned?
Probably not a damn thing. But maybe it’s a peek into my pop culture brain; a barometer of my fanboy pressure. I do still read comics in trade paperback (and this is also a cheaper way in; go to Amazon, and most have discounts like with regular books). The last I collected was all of Y the Last Man, just don’t get me started on the end of that series, because you’ll probably get covered in flecks of fanboy froth. Also, I’ve been pointed to Zuda Comics, which is totally worth your time to check out because, holy shit, free comics.
Ultimately, though, this is why I just don’t have the ability to dig deep into the four-color fun anymore. Each item above, taken alone, isn’t really a problem. Added together, though, and it stops me before I start.