How did that happen?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been getting sideswiped by the calendar a lot lately. People around me are talking about the college graduations they’re going to over the weekend when it feels like those kids were just home for Thanksgiving a week ago. I keep realizing while watching television that I am somehow seeing the season finale of a show that I would swear just premiered a couple of episodes back. The Avengers movie that’s been on my countdown app for a year or more actually happened several days ago (did you hear about this?) and the windows in my living room still have festive snowflake decals on them.
The numbers on the covers of comic books are especially bad at sobering me with the concrete passage of time. How could the red Hulk book possibly be in the fifties by now? How could that FF thing have conceivably happened seventeen issues ago? Could Wolverine and the X-Men or Miles Morales really be up to #10 already? Where have I been?
Readers of comics often complain
… just in general, really; that clause is a complete thought about those periods of fatigue, those seasons when it seems like everyone is telling the same story over and over with a fresh coat of paint on it. Everything old is old again. At this unique moment, however, it seems to me that a lot has changed in the last six months or so.
But has it, really? How we doin’, 2012?
Fortunately, we have an easy way to gauge these sorts of things, thanks to iFanboy’s handy Pull List feature and its de facto function as a historical record of the shrewd, shrewd ways we’ve spent our money. I can’t see what I was thinking about books six months ago– I stopped rating my comics around then, when I realized I share my opinions plenty already and had no interest in further inviting people’s opinions about my opinions– but at least I can see what I was buying then compared to now. If you ever find yourself bored online (imagine such a thing!) this can be a useful exercise to try.
This week six months ago, I bought eighteen titles. Today, I am still reading eight of them. That’s not as dire as it sounds: two were canceled, and several were miniseries that never became anything more. One was that fairly decent Point One which Ron excoriated like it killed his childhood dog. Make no mistake, though: some books have gotten the axe since then.
I’m quite a bit more loosey-goosey with the axe, in fact, thanks to another development that was ramping up roughly six months back, namely Marvel’s foray into digital comics. This week six months ago brought us the first issue of Avenging Spider-Man, the not-technically-Marvel Team-Up relaunch that solicitations sold as “The return of legendary artist Joe Madureira!” without adding, “for, like, a couple of weeks!” In addition to Joe Mad’s coy fan dance, Avenging Spider-Man brought buyers a digital code they could use if they wanted to keep the book and recycle it at the same time, or whatever we’re supposed to be doing with those codes. Since then, gloriously, digital availability has become more or less ubiquitous, giving me the cherished ability to look at the books I’m less excited about and think, “Eh, if people say it’s great on Thursday I can always grab it” without having to think about the logistics of actually going and doing that.
It works the other way, too. I picked up some books just this weekend based on rave reviews I hadn’t expected to see. In the last few months alone, digital has improved the quality of life around here even more than I imagined when I was begging for it years ago. This may be the happiest I’ve ever been as a consumer, and six months ago it was nothing like this. Think about the magnitude of that for a second.
Of course, DC had been doing the day-and-date digital thing for quite a while already as part of their “New 52″ initiative. Historically, I had never been a big DC sampler, so at the time I was one of the many people who used the New 52 as a golden opportunity to taste a few new flavors. I even wrote about it a bit at the time. How’s that all going all these months later?
Of the seventeen DC books I sampled at the time, I am still reading eight. Again, this is not as dire as it might sound. That’s six more DC books than I was reading before, so it’s still a win for them. The eight I’m still reading, I look forward to like Christmas day, and some of them are books I’d have never imagined I’d take to, like Supergirl and Swamp Thing. Of the ones I’m not reading, one of them got canceled; a couple of them were futile attempts to give another chance to writers I was never fond of to begin with; and one of them was Wonder Woman, which is at least runner-up for my most vehemently disliked purchase of the last five years. That book got recycled before the rushing air could close the back cover. Nothing is for everyone. Except maybe Batman.
(I should add: I recently dropped Action Comics after indulging it far too long, but I would read the hell out of that crazy bananas President Superman story Grant Morrison set up in the last issue. I can always be won back with the promise of something interesting and new-ish.)
Although it reads like my reading has plummeted, nothing could be further from the truth. I pulled twenty-three blessed books last week, several of which weren’t around a few short months ago. The old makes way for the new, and there is always something great around the next corner if you keep your eyes open.
How’s 2012 been treating you, reader? Have the books you were jumping onto last fall held up their end of the bargain? Have you lost many to cancellation or creative shifts? Here’s hoping your stack is strong. If not, don’t worry; in six months, it’ll all be different again.
Jim Mroczkowski had a completely different day job, diet, and demeanor six months ago. The weather was about the same.