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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.