State of the Ruinin’

Two or three lifetimes ago, I posted on this site a homemade glossary for the Elusive New Reader. Since you and I– let’s face it– are not members of the most open, inclusive bunch, it seemed wise to put something out there to help newcomers learn the lingo. My post that Monday did not change the world or help a kid understand Blackest Night, but all these years later there is one definition from that article which still gets quoted back to me.

fan: (n.) Someone who hates something so much, it’s all he can talk about.

Anyone who has spent any serious time around a Trekkie, Star Wars message board, or sports AM talk radio instantly knows what I meant; the people most likely to say they’re fans of those things are also most likely to then launch into a tirade about what the people responsible for those things have gotten wrong. Nowhere is this more true than in the mythical “Comic Book Community.” Recent studies conducted in my imagination have conclusively shown that fully 45% of weekly comic readers keep up with their books solely for the charge they get from complaining about them.

That’s the way it used to be, anyway. Maybe I’ve stopped running with a bad crowd, or maybe it’s these prescription rose-colored glasses, but it seems like the grumbling has really started tapering off lately. At the very least, the customary flipout period following any nontroversy seems to die down and amount to nothing about twice as fast as it did in ye olden dayes. Given the fact that 2012 is rapidly crossing the finish line, it’s only natural to reflect on the year, and as I do I can’t help thinking about the things everyone usually grouses about and how much (or how little) I’ve heard about them in the last several months:

Event Fatigue

The DC Crises. Secret Invasion. Dark Reign. Just whispering the names is enough to strike Fear Itself into the heart of the jaded, frugal “fan.” Oh, all the tie-ins and crossovers that you were dragooned into buying against your will. You didn’t want to buy Cable and Deadpool, but you had to in order to find out whether or not the Hypno-Hustler was a Skrull. A few years ago, the din of griping got so loud that Marvel declared a moratorium on events, which in turn caused a moratorium on people buying Marvel comics. Hence, Avengers Vs. X-Men.

The thing is, when said event came out, despite sounding like the cash-grabbiest cash grab this side of the Double Dare obstacle course, people didn’t start frothing at the mouth. People actually seemed to be into it, certainly if sales were anything to go by. Maybe the tie-ins were more organic than usual, or more restrained, or maybe people just got tired of saying how tired they were. Maybe the readers in open revolt over Fear Itself put their money where their mouths were, fleeing to the indies or DC, which either had no events or one year-long one, depending on your point of view. Or maybe I wasn’t reading the right threads this year. If so: pleasant! Doing it again in ’13!

Late Books

In 2012, it is hilarious to think about when this was an issue people were angry about. And fella, they were an-gry. There was a lot– a lot a lot– of this: “I’ve had it, and by ‘it’ I mean ‘an icy, sucking void inside me that was supposed to be filled by books that were supposed to ship this week.’ Well, enough is enough. It is time we show these lazy pencilling fat cats what happens when we vote with our wallets. I am never, ever buying a late book again, to show my favorite artist that I hope he starves to death for paying so much attention to detail. Vive la revolution!”

There was a time you couldn’t go a month without running into this guy and being bathed in his ear steam, mostly because there were regularly disappearing big books that I’m pretty sure the creators forgot they were supposed to be making. Now, though? These double-shipping sonzaguns are dropping product on you so often that you pray for a late book. If Marvel announced All New X-Men was going to be delayed, I’d organize a parade. I have kids to feed, you entertaining monsters.

Creators’ Rights

Certainly an issue worth complaining about, if not unleashing fury over, creators’ rights this year seemed to stir passionate, unwavering conviction in the masses for seven to ten days. Comic book fans were going to settle Marvel’s hash once and for all when Jack Kirby went unrewarded for the Avengers they were making a mint off of in the multiplexes; when the smoke cleared, just about all of those fans paid to see said movie six times and the comics remained the line’s best sellers. When Before Watchmen was announced, scores of people who were not “heart healthy” to begin with went ahead and had that stroke they were saving up for, ranting online and pillorying Benedict Arnold creators who dared to show their faces at conventions. They were taking to the streets shouting that song from Les Miz. Now it’s December, and those books that were an affront to god and wizard alike ended up being pretty well-reviewed, consistently selling 80-100k copies, and hovering around the top 25 on the charts every time they came out. So much for that.

Above: the only acceptable troll.

Piracy

This is another one that used to dominate the conversation. A creator would post something like, “Hey, 18,000 people bought my book this month and 25,000 downloaded it, and now my book is canceled, and I can’t use sales of my book to buy medicine for my children. You killed my book, and maybe my children,” and before you knew it self-styled freedom fighters were in the comments comparing piracy to the library again and sticking it to The Man for charging $3.00 an issue and apparently expecting medals. The tediousness of the discussion never stopped it in its word-for-word, Groundhog Day-like regularity.

Then, at the beginning of this year, for the first time, all the major comic book companies went same-day-as-print digital, and that was that. Piracy still goes on, no doubt, but the people doing it are a lot less bold about how righteous their motives for doing it are. Mostly, people seem to have pulled out their Mastercards and called it a day.

Trolling

At the risk of jinxing it, things seem to have quieted down considerably, at least around here. Around this time last year, I posted about the trolling problem in our little community, and that post brought out more hatred and vitriol than I ever realized existed; it was like I posted a sign that said “Don’t Feed the Bears” and everyone got together, tied me to a tree, and fed me to the bears. It literally put me off contributing to iFanboy for most of the year. Today, however, I cannot remember the last time I saw a comment and thought, “Ugh, this guy again. Why doesn’t he find something else to spend his time on?” In the end, the iFanbase remains one of the most positive and supportive on the internet. Those of us who work to keep it that way sincerely thank you; because of you, we have nothing to complain about.

 


Jim Mroczkowski just put off admitting that he bought a Deadpool book for at least another two weeks.

Comments

  1. asafager says:

    Incendiary statement! My opinions are more important than anyones. Everything I say is right, you’re wrong. TROLL! TROLL! TROOOOOOLLLLLLL!

  2. Killjoy

  3. Ask Dan Slott if he thinks it’s died down? After a day of conversations about piracy with torrenters on twitter, he received yet another threat where someone said they were going to “find (him) and shove a pencil in (his) eye.”

    • Jim Mroczkowski Jim Mroczkowski (@jimski) says:

      You know, this positive perception of mine does coincide almost exactly with the day I unfollowed almost all comic book people on Twitter.

    • 4iiii says:

      And I bet 100% when these people “see” him at a convention they wont say anything. It really nerves me that people think they have the right to threaten someone over an argument, just like the recent threats against Tony Harris. Someone is going to regret the day one of these creators DON’T blow off there statement and give them whats coming to them.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      It’s not 100%, and people definitely will say something in person.

      And you will look at them, and move on with your life, because it will be startlingly clear who you’re dealing with.

  4. Alch Alch says:

    Looks like we get results when we complain. Huh.

  5. mrgraves mrgraves says:

    If All New X-Men gets delayed, I’ll join your parade. It’s come out so fast that there hasn’t been time to adjust orders for it. So while yeah, everyone is loving it, we haven’t been able to bump the numbers up so currently we have more subscribers than books we’re getting.

  6. IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

    Maybe all the lack of fanboy anger is due to the holidays? Or maybe the books have gotten better? Personally I’m enjoying things so far except I haven’t read batman#13 yet because my LCS sold out and I have no idea what’s going on in Death of the Family since I’ve avoided it until I get #13. Maybe its too early, but what about Gail Simone getting fired off “Batgirl”? Seems like a surge of anger and the resurrection of “DC hates Women” should be making a comeback for that…

    • I think localized anger at a development is way different than systematic and institutionalized venom for its own sake.

    • IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

      Guess I can’t really tell the difference, I thought Simone’s firing made (or should have) a slight blip at least on the web but I do have a hard time recounting the last thing that brought about mega fan rage. Probably true it doesn’t tie into the issues listed in the article. It’s nice not having so much negativity and anger on the web (least on my regular sites).

  7. I wonder if the trolling reduction is related to the smaller amount of comments in all but the biggest articles? It seems that there’s been a reduction in the amount of comments on the average articles since the same time last year. That said, if it’s down to the trolls decamping, it’s fine by me.

  8. jpriester73 jpriester73 says:

    I think the major complaint now is double shipping. Marvel destroy’s my budget.

    • GKFinns GKFinns says:

      Amen. Double and triple shipping is making me drop Marvel series due to the sheer financial pressure of it.

    • Never really saw that as an issue. I suppose the way Marvel and DC see it is fans complain if you ship less than 1 issue a month, fans complain if you ship more than 1 issue; damned if you do damned if you don’t. They might as well go with the option that makes them the most money.

      I for one love double shipping because it means I get more of the stories I like more frequently.

    • jpriester73 jpriester73 says:

      I think DC has it right in publishing 12 issues a year. Unfortunately I don’t like their product as much lol It’s not that I don’t want my books to come out more than once a month, I just can’t afford it when they do unless I drop something else. I would rather pull more books but get them less often because there are so many good titles out there.

    • You could make the same argument about good books. They should release fewer good comics because each one they make better than the ones you read now means one more title you have to drop…

      If I can only buy 24 comics I’d rather get 24 of my favorite title than 12 of my favorite and 12 of my 2nd favorite.

      To each their own I guess.

  9. diebenny diebenny says:

    I miss some of the trolls that used to be around here. Some of them were smart and funny, albeit angry and mean. That shit made me laugh. Except for the one who changed his name all the time and always had the weird line return after each sentence. Made his shit look all tiered and extra wacky. He can stay gone.

  10. GKFinns GKFinns says:

    Marvel decided not go beyond double shipping and just release as often as possible. Three All New X-Men in 4 weeks? 4 Iron Mans in 5 weeks? A week ago Cable and the XForce and Avengers Arena and Thunderbolts debuted, and now issue 2 for all of them are hitting this week.

    This week alone is giving us new issues on practically every single Marvel NOW book besides Uncanny Avengers. If they want me to try new books, they need to give me a chance to afford it. Say what you will about the New 52, but they release one issue a month for each, which makes it infinitely more practical to dabble in many more series.

    • Jesse1125 Jesse1125 says:

      +1
      I like these #1′s but get REALLY turned off when I think “What’s the big deal? They are just going to reboot this 10 to 12 issues in!”

  11. Jesse1125 Jesse1125 says:

    Can the Court of Owls storyline OR A Death in the Family be considered events? They captivated me and had me coming back for more. I know they only happened in the Batbooks so many not an event.
    Late books? don’t really care unless you’re talking like 2-3 months.
    BTW, what title., issue had the longest wait between issues for 2012? Saga? Avengers the children’s Crusade? Nemesis?
    If I like it I’ll wait and shut my yap( Saga, Children’s Crusade)

  12. Piracy will continue to be an issue as long as PRICE continues to be an issue, we’ve seen evidence of that in every other market. Piracy was bankrupting the music industry until the music labels decided .99 was an acceptable price for a single song, fans agreed. We’re in the process of seeing a similar industry wide shift in television as people are realizing they’re okay with paying $7.99 a month to stream a show rather than $50 for a boxed set.

    You may not hear people justifying their piracy but you DO hear people complaining about price, and that frustration is made manifest through piracy. Besides myself I don’t know a single person who legitimately buys ALL their issues anymore, can anyone here under the age of 25 say otherwise?

    • Exactly. If I can read something super quick, why do I want to pay $3.99 + for it? And the legitimate downloads where you pay full price but it is considered “borrowing” it and not owning it are disgusting.