It was subtle at first. I looked a book I had been reading for a few months and thought, “Maybe I will just read this in trade,” or “you know, I don’t think this book is going to be around for many more issues, maybe I’ll just cut my losses here.” Then, after reading Saga and re-reading Parker: The Outfit, I was like, “Oh…right — this is what I like…and this is all I want.”
As I write this, just a week and a half before San Diego Comic-Con, I feel, truly, like my taste in comics has either stabilized or just reached some kind of plateau and what’s truly bothersome about it? I don’t really care.
This is troublesome because much of what I love about comics is just how many different creators and publishers are out there, doing all kinds of different stories. Compared to movies and TV, comics is an impossibly varied medium, and it’s that variety that keeps many a fan coming back for more. I took DC’s New 52 offering as a way to dive headlong into a whole new era of comics, giving me a really great opportunity to (re)discover characters and creators. My thinking was that as I read these new stories, it would encourage me to reach out and check out my titles from companies like Image and IDW, that this was just the shot in the arm that I desperately needed to get me out of my comic book malaise.
Well…it worked for a while, at least. But as I fell off of Resurrection Man and other titles, I was also scrapping pretty much all of my Marvel books as well. I liked my Batman books, I hung in there with Action Comics, The Flash and Justice League, but that was about it, and much of that was really kind of out of habit. I really felt, gentle reader, that I was falling out of love with comics, just a little bit.
Then Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga happened. Now, I know that this is not a book for everyone and I am sure there are problems with the book, but, issue after issue, I know that I have not fallen out of love with comics — I am just loathe to put up with comics that are not fantastic. I had a similar experience reading Darwyn Cooke’s Before Watchmen: Minutemen and Cooke and Amanda Conner’s Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre. These were the kinds of comics I wanted to read, created by artists and writers who I trust, who have been amazing in the past and continue to be amazing in that particular way that my heart and brain react to with happiness and joy.
This is a good thing yet also not a good thing, I realize. It makes no sense to limit my exposure to new creators and titles — I might miss out on future Cookes and Conners and Vaughan. I don’t want to be stodgy and be one of those old guys who only talks about the great stories and characters of the past, but here I am, basically wrapping up my legs in a blanket after taking two minutes to settle down into a rocking chair, ready to yell at the kids playing near my lawn.
I am hoping that SDCC has a bunch of cool announcements that makes me excited to dive back into books like Spider-Man and (dareIsayit) Superman. But even then, what will make me keep coming back? I mean, even now (and this is basically iFanboy heresy), I feel like I am getting bored with The Flash, which, like, is my book. I love the art, I love the character…but I’ve had the most recent issue sitting in my iPad for what seems like weeks. I am just not inspired, not even to followup on books that I know to be good, like Daredevil and Wolverine and the X-Men. It’s depressing to me even as I write this.
What is it about Saga in particular that has captured the imagination of myself and the iFanboys? For me, it is the incredible balancing act that BKV is able to maintain between plot, emotional stakes, and really well done cliffhangers. When I reach the end of an issue of Saga I am totally bummed — I need to know what is happening next! This is mostly to do with the creative team, but I think also that we’re in a totally new and different universe, with characters that continue to get more and more intriguing.
But, like I said, it’s mostly the creative team. And like Cooke and Conner, Staples and Vaughan are creators whose work I have enjoyed over the years, whose skill with comics is such that I can read a single issue in a month and get every comic book itch scratched, just like that.
Is this stagnation or is this taste? Is It the cool comfort of being able to consummate professionals or the tyranny of habit? Probably a combination of both, but one thing is for sure: once you get comfy, it’s really hard to get out of that rocking chair, and with comic book prices as high as they are, it seems almost reasonable to go back to the old days, where buying 2-3 comics a month, 2-3 comics that you really liked, was the perfect amount.
Like I said, I hope that hanging out at Comic-Con will get me excited about comics and get me off of my butt, but I must admit, I’m not holding my breath.