I usually write my columns based on something that has been on my mind during the preceding week. Oddly enough, last week seemed to have the 10 Commandments showing up as a persistent theme. Granted, I was spending time with family, and as such arguing about all manner of things both religious and political, but the 10 commandments came up specifically on more than one occasion. This column won’t touch the Judeo-Christian concept of the 10 Commandments with a 39.5 foot pole, but there are all kinds of variations on the big 10 floating around so I figured why not try to come up with one for comics?
1. Thou shall have no other media before comics
The key word on the first commandment is ‘before.’ No one is saying you shouldn’t have other media you enjoy. If you spend much time on this very site you’ll know that we all love TV, movies, books, music, etc. Those are all great, but to be a comics fan is to put comics above those other forms of entertainment. We’re potentially a dying breed, and that doesn’t leave much room for waffling. Whether or not that might be part and parcel of our very decline is a subject for another day.
2. Thou shall not deface a comic
This is a bit of a throwback, but if you find a comic missing it’s cover: don’t buy it. If you’re sister draws on your comics, it’s ok to get upset. Comics are art pieces, however disposable, so they deserve a modicum of respect. Besides, what’s a list of 10 rules to live by if at least one isn’t a bit archaic?
3. Remember Wednesday, and keep it local
This one is really just in here because of the whole original Sabbath thing. Something about rewriting the 10 commandments just demands that one insert something specifying a certain day of the week as more important than others, and what better day than Wednesday? As far as keeping it local, if you have a good local shop, support them, if not, whatever there’s always digital/Amazon, I just needed an extra clause for the commandment itself to flow.
4. Honor the Big 2, and thou shall be granted with a long run
In my estimation, honoring does not mean ass-kissing. I think you can’t be a fan of comics without at at least recognizing the contribution of the Big 2 and their creators have had in shaping the comics landscape as we know it today. Like every parent, they makes mistakes and missteps, but we still owe them a lot, and after all, according to the US Supreme Court, they’re only (corporate) humans.
5. Thou shall not pirate
Many discussions have been had both here and around the Internet about the merits of downloading comics without paying for them. I can’t prevent that from happening here, but the commandment is clear: don’t do it, it’s not cool, it’s not justified, and if you try to rationalize the practice you just sound like you’re making excuses for stealing something, and not even something essential to survival like bread or water. So the commandment stands.
6. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s stack
We all wish we could have reading libraries like our heroes Conor Kilpatrick, Jeff Reid, or Pat Loika. But in reality we probably can’t. Either we’re transient perpetual students, mom’s basement only has so much room, or the flood of 2009 destroyed the majority of our collection. At the end of the day, we should appreciate the comics we have, buy (within reason) what we want, and enjoy the spoils of our friends free from jealously.
7. Thou shall not get actually angry over things that have never actually happened
Every single person who contributes to this community is passionate about comics. But, and this is a big but, these comics are by and large fiction i.e. none of the stuff in these books actually happened. It is a ton of fun to debate the minutiae of what happens in our beloved funny books, but there is a fine line between a good-natured debate and an embittered argument. Don’t be the person that can’t leave their attitude at the door. Get pedantic, get precise, but at the end of the discussion let it go and hug it out. Comics are supposed to fun, don’t lose sight of that to the point where you can’t be reasoned with.
8. Thou shall not force comics upon thy friends
I’ve talked a little bit about this recently so I won’t go into too much detail. However, this commandment applies to just about any aspect of your life. If a friend isn’t into the same subculture as you, being pushy about it won’t help. If anything it’ll drive friends away.
9. Thou shall not defend bad movies just because they came from comics
Sometimes movies based on comics suck. It benefits our demographic to call out the crap and only take the time to defend what’s worth the defending. Consider it a small step away from the “BIFF BAM POW Comics aren’t for kids anymore” mindset.
10. Thou shall drop bad books, and never be afraid to try something new
Just like the real commandments, they kind of lose steam towards the end, so we conclude with what might be more good advice than a hard and fast rule. It should be self-explanatory, but the podcast covers this ground often enough that it seemed worthwhile to include. If you don’t like a book anymore, get rid of it; if you’re curious about a different book, try it. None of us will go to our death bead’s proclaiming how long we stuck with Green Arrow just to see if it would get good again.
Not that you’d have 10 to contribute, but what are your person comic commandments? The world wants to know! (And by world I mean the several thousand people that still read comics, but you see my point.)