Opinions on Comics? Think Before You Rant

imgres-11Picture an angry comics fan. He’s sitting in front of his computer/web-cam and he’s raving on about the fact that his favorite character from the past twenty years has been “desecrated” in the latest issue. We’ve seen this guy (or gal in some cases) many times. He’s a mainstay of comic book fandom, lampooned in movies and TV and perhaps misunderstood by the mainstream. The ranting comic book fan has become a bit of a cliché, truth be told, but without him the comic book world would feel perhaps a little emptier. I don’t mind this guy, generally speaking. Truth be told, the industry sort of thrives on the passionate debate among fans about what happens to their favorite characters in their beloved books. These are soap operas when is all is said and done, so people have strong emotions associated with the characters. Simply put, to passionately pontificate is part of the game; always has been and probably always will be.

But while I enjoy a spirited Facebook comment thread or a well-conceived YouTube videoimgres-10 opinion as much as the next guy, my recent encounter with a certain vociferous fan on YouTube has left me feeling compelled to rant against the ranters, to call out the fans who seem to simply voice disgust and spew bile in place of actual opinions.  I’m talking about the fans who get so angry and red-faced about the choices made by comic book writers that they feel compelled to post lengthy opinions that are little more than diatribes about how much something “sucks.” The poster who inspired this column actually claimed that he was, shall we say, “violated” by issue #700 of The Amazing Spider-Man. Violated.

Saying that something simply “sucks” isn’t really much of an opinion. Don’t get me wrong. There are definitely comics that have left me thinking “Well, that sort of sucked,” but to throw out a blanket statement that something just sucked is to invite ridicule. So to those who are inspired to voice their opinions with the help of social media, I would suggest that you come up with concrete reasons for your opinions. To be simply annoyed by the choices made by comic books writers, creators, artists, etc. just isn’t good enough. Sure, modern technology affords anyone with a computer and a webcam to be a snarky web superstar, but without an actual basis for what often feels like disgust for disgust’s sake, your web fame is likely to be short-lived.

I’ve never actually tried to write a comic, but I do write for a living and let me tell you, it’s a grind. Imagine having homework every day and night of your life and you’re on the right track. That’s what being writer is like; you slice open your brain on a daily basis and attempt to bleed out ideas, things that will be entertaining to the intended audience. Writing comics is difficult and writing good comics is even more difficult. So to just say that something sucks or that the writer is lame really doesn’t do justice to the effort that was put in on the side of the writer. I guess what I’m saying here is that if you’re intention is to rage against the Marvel machine when it comes to comics and blast out your thoughts on the quality, crappiness or otherwise, then I’d advise thinking out an actual opinion before you take to the “interweb” and post eight minutes of self-indulgent hatred.

url-4The ranting, angry comic book fan isn’t going anywhere, nor do I want him or her to disappear. I like the fact that comics come out each week and people have strong opinions about what happens to these fictional characters. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m just a bit embarrassed when I see grown men pounding their fists like Mussolini about the fact that their favorite superhero was killed off in a way that “sucks.” If there’s one thing we know about killed-off comic characters, it’s that they’re coming back; maybe not next issue, maybe not in the next six issues, but rest assured, the choices made by a comic writer today will summarily be undone in the near future. So with that in mind, I say to the knee-jerk reactionaries who threaten to cancel their subscriptions and then call for the heads of comic writers who are simply trying to keep things interesting, relax and enjoy the show. You’re rising to the bait and without well-formed opinions to bolster your rage, you look silly to the rest of us.

 


Gabe Roth is a TV writer trapped in the suburbs of Los Angeles. He’s @gaberoth on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Comics are like therapy for me. In my day to day I’m a misanthropic recluse who has nothing but negative things to say about everyone and everything. When it comes to comics I’m always an optimist. I’ve been reading long enough to know if your favorite character is in the gutter, just give it time.

    • WheelHands WheelHands says:

      “I’ve been reading long enough to know if your favorite character is in the gutter, just give it time.”

      Your avatar could not be more appropriate.

  2. Anyone who rants about anything and cannot explain the reasons of said anger is an idiot that most likely is acting out of the sheepness of his/her heart.

  3. stevetwo stevetwo says:

    ugh. Do we really want to guy more press? Okay…

    Therapy is a good word to describe some of what reading and collecting has done for me for the past 30 years. I’ve had my share of burn-outs. As I’ve grown older, I realize that there are things people WANT to happen that just plain won’t. Ever. Case in point: boycotting a publisher, take your pick. People who call for that, in my opinion, are naive to the way the (corporate) world works.

    Ultimately, whether this column (good one by the way) is singling out one person or several, I gotta say there was one that had me laughing hysterically. Then, yes, the person said he felt “violated.” The term doesn’t solely mean ‘sexual assault’, but that’s unfortunately where our minds go today. That’s what came to me when he said it. And it was absolutely tasteless. Without class. Completely uncalled for by any human being – rational or otherwise. To compare how he felt because of a freakin’ COMIC BOOK and its creators, to an innocent victim of a truly despicable, mentally irreparable violent act is beyond comprehension. That particular person needs to shut up and join the real world.

  4. Killraven says:

    Great Article. I rarely post on anything because my opinion is just that: “my opinion”. There are things that I love that others hate and things I hate that others love. If someone asks my opinion, then I’ll give it. To me, some of these ranters that you talked about in the article rant and rave before the book even comes out. Before passing judgement on anything, they should give it a chance.

    I guess we all go through this faze. I’ll never forget, when Bendis killed off Hawkeye, I swore off of all avengers after that. It wasn’t till I found out that he was brought back that I tried it again. Guess what, because I was childish about it, I missed out on a lot of good stories. Had to get them all in trades. That was when I realized that I should give things a chance and not be a bratty kid about it. Sometimes it works out and other times it doesn’t.

  5. pyynk pyynk says:

    It’s funny. I have no problem running into those guys in a comic shop. Usually because I can either gloss over their diatribes or find humour in the ridiculous nature of what comes out of their mouths. Online, however, it drives me crazy. It’s possible that if someone says something, they may not think about how it sounds. Thought leaps into mind and out the mouth, sometimes before you have a chance to think of how stupid something might sound.

    However, if you WRITE something? You had to think about it more than once or twice. Heck, the ranter might have even proofread it a couple of times to ensure they got one more jab in on a creator they don’t like. I *hate* those guys.

    • IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

      This clerk at my LCS, I can’t talk to him about anything related to Marvel or “Comic Book Men” because it sends on these 20 minute rants everytime. It’s all the same old reasons too, which makes me think he’s not doing his homework and using facts. Last time was pretty funny tho, he commenting/ranting on the worst story(s) ever, and I was trying to tell him there’s always a worse story possible. He eventually gave up and stormed out of the room, it was pretty hilarious.

    • pyynk pyynk says:

      Hah! Speaking of tired arguements, today was someone ranting about the “early” end of Marvel’s Spider-Girl comic. All I could think of was, “Dude, you got *100* issues. That’s impressive for ANY character!”

    • pyynk pyynk says:

      Oh and an easy indicator for ranters? Calling Quesada “Joe Quesadilla”. Seriously.

    • IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

      Jeez, none of my favorite characters (Ghost Rider, Moon Knight) ever got a 100 issues! Granted, they both got multiple series, mostly of varied quality but still. Did Marvel ever do anything with the Spider-Girl universe lately? Since they publishing multiple Spidey comics (AGAIN. why does history repeat itself?) that would seem like a no-brainer to add to Marvel Now! Also, that “Joe Quesadilla” thing seems a tad racist.

    • pyynk pyynk says:

      Right there with you. I’m ecstatic if I get a Union Jack appearance. I did flips when the London Falling mini-series came out. As to the current state of the MC2 (?) Universe, I couldn’t say. The last Spidey book I read regularly was Untold Tales of Spider-Man. I *think* Arana (the modern Spider Girl) popped up in a back up story a few years back.

      And the name calling could be, but I chalk it up more to the juvenile behavior of most of the super ranters.

  6. JesseCuster says:

    Writing is like having homework everyday? I’m not a pro by any stretch, but I cannot get behind that at all. If it feels like a chore, then its not something you love. Good writing takes patience and a lot of re-writes, but a writer who knows how to write embraces and enjoys the refinement process (those who hate it, are only writing for themselves).

    Also find it somewhat calling the kettle black in regards to comic blogging. I will never forget the giant Comic Bloggers Whine of 2011… where practically every comic news reporting site on the inter-webs just HAD to share their presumptuous, overtly negative and no-fact-filled opinions on the DC New 52 before even knowing a single detail about it. Your argument here is going to be that ‘bloggers had formed arguments and opinions’ and thus is somehow superior to the fanboy ranters, but that’s deluded.

    You don’t have a face-hugger without momma Xenomorph around. Think about it and think about maybe who enables fans to be so caustic and pissy.

  7. Maybeland says:

    So is this a response to that last article whining about how DC isn’t making books targeted just for that writer?

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      Yeah it was lame. Yet this place has seem to become a place where tons of folks gladly will jump on the negativity bandwagon – I think it used to be better than that. It’s become tiresome.

      There are so many good books out there and yet people would rather just complain.

    • IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

      I think every site/location/organization has periods of “group-think”. I recall the “DC comics hates Women” controversy, every site that I found said all the same stuff. It was weird, nobody had different opinions? The funny thing is, when people bash DC they usually list the same series as riddled with problems, but consistently ignore the ones that are pretty great (besides “Batman”). When did the tables turn on DC? I’m not saying it doesn’t have problems, I’m just curious when 60-70% of fans started bashing on DC.

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      A short time ago, maybe a year and a half ago, a lot of people were bashing Marvel and cheering for DC. Now it seems to be the other way around. I don’t know what happened. People are fickle? Joey Q hired a bunch of Marvel Zombie trolls to stir the waters?

      To me, nothings changed. Marvel are still greedy jerks, but having a bunch of new number 1 issues somehow has made them great guys.

      I guess DC just needs to reboot yet again. Back to Pre New 52. And then reboot again, back to Pre Crisis. The fans demand it!

  8. Juhl75 says:

    well this sucked! jk

  9. the one thing that i don’t understand about the “pro ranters” is why spend so much time thinking about and bitching about things you hate? I guess its one thing to get annoyed for a few minutes….even posting a snarky comment on a board, but to make videos and get into full on tweet wars about it. I dunno…lots of time wasted on things you don’t like right there. Whats to gain?

    Why dwell on the negative? Find something that makes you happy and spend your time and energy on that instead.

    • stevetwo stevetwo says:

      You know, the more I think about it, the more I sort of feel sorry for “that” person. Yeah, someone severely messed with the one thing he loves in life. Not much of a dreamer, but still, crazy as we all may think he is, he’s still just reacting as a child would if you broke his favorite toy. To the child, there’s no tomorrow. You’ll never be able to repair it, replace it. It’s just gone, so the child screams and cries and acts irrationally.

      What separates the child from this dude: The child is in your house. No one on the street is going to hear his tirade. This guy’s got the Internet. If the Internet didn’t exist, you and I and a million other people would never have had to listen to his rant, just the pitiful souls in his shop or his friends. As such, we’ve got just as much right and reason to make RATIONAL comments about today’s issues (this one just happened to be created by that guy), as that guy had the right to film himself acting like a jackass and putting it out there.

      The Internet. Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it.

    • pyynk pyynk says:

      I don’t get it either. As I mentioned above, there was a guy on line ranting today about what a “bastard” Quesada was for cancelling Spider-Girl so some “stupid Latina” could use the name. All I could think was, “Dude, you got 100 issues of a title that you profess to love. 100 issues! Let go of your hate and marvel that you got 100 issues in this day and age!”

    • also that level at which they are so concerned with their audience…”you guys, i just HAD to make this video….”

      its as if they are under a delusion that there are people waiting to hear the great revelations their opinion will reveal…when there really isn’t. Again back to the “something is lacking” thing i mentioned above.

    • pyynk pyynk says:

      Yeah, I have enough trouble getting people who legitimately like me to listen to my opinions, let alone total strangers! Even more so if you focus on the negative.

  10. CharlieRock CharlieRock says:

    Sometimes people are too upset to make sense. This article makes very valid points, but think about it a sec. You’re asking someone in an emotional state to make logic to you.
    Is it an efficient exchange of ideas? No, but you’re never going to get that.

  11. The ranting is what has made me come in the Internet less and less. I try very hard to keep negativity out of my life and it seems it is impossible to do so if you come onto a website bout comics. I don’t even mean negative criticism, that is fine. If somebody has a thoughtful and reasonable reason why they didn’t like something, I am all for that. It’s dactyl th kind of person that Gabe is writing about that keeps m away. As the popularity of this site has exploded the last few years, I have seen just how many people there are who seemingly read comics just to blindly and unintelligent lay trash them.

    The odd thing is, I also love opera, and opera fans do the exact same thing. I have feeling it is like this with whatever it is you are into. If there is a fan base for it, there are simple minded people who claim to love it but just spew hatred towards it.

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      I would say it’s not just websites about comics – it’s websites about anything. It would be great if we could somehow filter out all the mindless, angry, hateful, ugly people out there, but they seem to be the ones who stay around and drive the rest of us away, like the angry villagers chasing away the Frankenstein monster.

    • That’s kind of the perfect way to describe it. I’m just going to sit alone now and yell “fire bad!” all day.

  12. KielPhegley KielPhegley says:

    The other day, we had a guy submit a question for the “B&B” column that was literally “Why does Teen Titans suck?” and then he added “I hope this question isn’t considered rude.”