The iFanboy Letter Column – 11/20/2009

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means it’s searching for the ultimate party where on the way, you and your friends get stuck in a 1980s movie-esque adventure. For others, Friday is the day you take get back on the horse.

At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.

You write. We answer. Very simple.

As always, if you want to have your e-mail read on the any of our shows or answered here, keep them coming –


I really enjoyed hearing you guys talk about G.I. Joe: Cobra for Book of the Month on the last podcast and while I bought the mini series, it got me to buy that special (who would have ever guessed Xamot and Tomax could be so awesome?). But it also just got me more interested in G.I. Joe again, are any of the other IDW books worth picking up, I can’t recall hearing you guys talk about any of the other ones besides Cobra and I flipped through them a few times when I bought Cobra but they didn’t look to have the same gritty tone and also the art didn’t look very impressive. Anyway, are these books worth picking up or should I just wait until the next Cobra series?

Cesar R.

Hail Cesar!

Yay, another chance to talk about G.I. Joe! Well, we have definitely talked about all three IDW books on the podcast and a quick and dirty search of the archives reveals:

Episode #173: We talked about G.I. Joe: Origins #1
Episode #192: We talked about G.I. Joe: Origins #5
Episode #194: We talked about G.I. Joe #7
Episode #202: We talked about G.I. Joe: Origins #7

I know there are a lot more instances because we’ve been talking about all three new G.I. Joe series from the beginning.

If you really liked G.I. Joe: Cobra and are looking for a darker, grittier tone in your G.I. Joe stories, I would seek out G.I. Joe: Origins. While not as dark as Cobra, it’s much more gritty and realistic than the regular book, which has a much more traditional G.I. Joe feel to it. I love Cobra (obviously) but I love Origins almost as much. Cobra‘s subject matter is inherently more dark and disturbing than the other two books, but Origins is still pretty down to earth and gritty. If it’s any indication, I bought the trade paperbacks for both Cobra and Origins so I could have them easily accessible for rereading.

I say give the first G.I. Joe: Origins arc a shot and see how you feel. If it doesn’t tickle your gritty fancy than you’ll probably just have to wait for the sequel to G.I. Joe: Cobra and we’re all going to have our fingers crossed that the sequel is going to be even half as good as the original.

Conor Kilpatrick


If you guys could change one thing about the comic book reader, what would it be?


How much time you got, Sean? I think it’s actually a very valid question. There are lots of things that could be improved with the comics industry, and I think change would have to be across the board, from publishers to retailers to readers themselves. There are lots of things I’ve seen in the habits of comic book readers that I do wish weren’t so prevalent. I think, the biggest problem, and one that we’ve always worked to change at iFanboy is that readers spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on the bad, rather than the good. Comic readers, maybe more than most other media consumers, seem to focus on what’s bad or wrong about something, rather than what’s good. Or even, and this something unique to comics, what’s going to be bad. People will judge a story before it had a chance to get bad, based on a cover, or a panel. They predict what they don’t like, and start hating it before anything’s even really happened. Other than that, I just wish readers would expand their horizons more, and try new things, and different types of stories. I wish readers supported more books that weren’t about superheroes on a greater scale. We bring this back a lot, but Brian Reed’s Image Comics series The Circle was a great book but didn’t even sell well enough to have a trade printed because readers didn’t give it a chance. I want more books about things other than superheroes and zombies, and the readership doesn’t support them for the most part. Criminal sells worse than Incognito, and that’s simply ridiculous. A good story is a good story is a good story, and people can have different tastes in genre, but to only like one kind of thing drives me nuts. To only like Marvel, or DC, or only color comics, or only books with Batman, or to cut off the rest of the possibilities of comics is to deprive yourself of joy. That’s what I’d change.

There are some things I wouldn’t change at all though, and the main one is passion. People who love comics, love comics and that is a beautiful thing. They read the stories, and the know the characters, and they are fully invested in the characters and creators and will support them. For years, comics were not the best way to appear cool, but comic readers told social convention to go to hell and did what they loved. Comic readers are smart, and they love imagination and art and stories, and they make the world a more interesting place. Comic readers respect tradition and history, but they also want to see new things. They want to be wowed. There is little in this world to compare to a comic book reader who has read something excellent and wants to share it with the world. A comic book reader knows the young and mature side of their tastes and respects both. I wouldn’t change any of that.

Josh Flanagan


  1. By look of the picture i though josh was going to suggest that he wished Comic Readers were younger (which in some ways i would like to change).

    But Josh, I just want to applaud you and the rest of the iFanboy staff for the work you guys do in addressing all those concerns you mentioned in your response. I’ve been coming to your site for 4 years and taking part in your community makes me forget that our bunch isn’t the average comic reader. We dont (typically) celebrate what’s bad and we often enjoy books that our out of the mainstream. Sure i love my Wolverine comics but I also love my Stumptown. if it weren’t for iFanboy and the community i probably wouldn’t be the varied comic reader i am today.

    Thanks to Ron, Josh, Conor, Paul, Jim, Sonia, Mike and the entire iFanbase for that. You guys are truly the best

  2. I’m with Mike.  Word.

  3. Josh’s response was great. I’ve actually been making a larger effort to change me reading habits with comics.  I would say that I read a lot more non superhero books.  This week was a prime example.  I got 8 books (one came in late from last week) out of the 8, 3 were not superhero books and one of those was in black and white.  I actually have to thank iFanboy for this.  If it wasn’t for pushing Queen and Country, Y the Last Man, and other things (I still blame Ron for my unexplained love of SiP, Richards! *shakes fist*).  Branching out and seeing that comics are more that Superhero and Zombies opens up all sorts of delicious nuggets out there.  I agree that it would take a change from the industry to push non superhero books.

    YAY for more GI Joe.  I love origins so much I’ve been debating dropping the regular book so I can focus on it more, does that sound weird?  I’ve actually been confused on which book I was picking up in a month.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that with any comic before.  Unlike my roommate who confused Red Robin with Batman and Robin or Batgirl with Detective. 

  4. I think movie fans are way way way more critical and negative than comic fans. Maybe the average moviegoer isn’t that negative, but the millions of people who are in-depth fans of film definitely are. They complain about upcoming films waaaay more than the average comic fan complains about upcoming comics. But the difference is, by the very nature of the medium’s place in society, the "average" comic fan tends to be knowledgeable and thus somewhat critical, whereas the average filmgoer is basically out for a good time at the movies. To be a comic fan in this society, you pretty must have to possess insider knowledge; all of the casual fans have been ciphened away.

    Still, when the average comic on iFanboy gets rated 4/5, it’s hard to call us that negative. By comparison, that would be an average rating of 8.0 for a movie at imdb, a rating good enough for inclusion into the top films of all time. I know this comparison can’t be pushed too far, but there you go. And I think that negative criticism is often healthy. Stupid complaining? Baseless negative assumptions? Negativity for the sake of getting off on being negative? Those aren’t good. But, god, the Positive Police don’t need to be on duty all the time. If a work of art is flawed, it’s actually interesting to hear good arguments about WHY it doesn’t work. Well-reasoned negative arguments can actually make you ENJOY a book more, paradoxically, because they make the book more interesting: you can look back at the book and, not complain, but see how it could have been improved. No offense, but if the only criticism allowed is "This doesn’t work for me" or "It’s not for me", then, yeah, I can see where negativity in itself might be considered pointless…because superficial negative criticisms like that, while polite, are pretty insubstantial and boring.

    The only way more non-superhero comics are going to get shine is for the demographics of the readership to change–and who knows how that could ever come about. I also sit and bemoan how the industry is 90% superhero. But then I look at my pull-list. I would imagine that most everyone else is in the same boat: "Yeah, this industry is too focused on super-heroes. We should expand, man… *goes over, pulls New Avengers off the shelf for the fiftieth month in a row, buys Fantastic Four, buys 30 other superhero comics*." The point is, WE are the people who like superhero comics a lot. That’s who we are. Someone who doesn’t read comics at all, though? That person might never ever want to read a superhero comic…but they might like Strangers in Paradise, Sandman or Bone. Too bad those titles are (almost) only ever seen within the vicinity of overwhelming stockpiles of superhero comics, so hundreds of thousands of potential readers will never find them. I don’t know what the answer is, but at this point WE the current comic buyers are ALL well aware of the presence of non-superhero comics, and for the most part we’re just not buying them much at all. Even if Sandman is my favorite series ever.

    In general, though, yeah, it’d be better if we opened our minds more to genres and types of writing that are outside are comfort zone. That definitely holds true for us. Just as it holds true for pretty much everyone else in the world in most other contexts.

  5. Woah thanks for answering my GI Joe question Conor. You know the sad part, I needed a GI Joe fix so badly that I decided to buy Rise of Cobra. I didnt see it in theaters and I figured how bad can it be right? Oh god I want my money back. But atleast I know better now and KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE!…. sorry, and next time I’ll get that Origins trade

  6. @josh: this is the most perfect evaluation of comic readers. i’m really proud of this. this is why i love you guys so much. 

  7. @Josh – I feel that the focusing on the bad is going. It seems to me that it was born out of the Ninties since most titles were not great (except for some awesome stuff, Preacher …etc).

    Since we’re in an new era of amazing comics, I feel that people will start to get less cynical. Take me for example, I was lucky that I stopped reading in 89 and started back 20 years later in 2009. So I missed out on the bad and am less cycnical … maybe … almost Polyanna like … hello butterfly.

  8. Super heroes are why we are all here.  This industry is where it is because of heroes.  It highs and lows are due to heroes.  Even beyond comic books themselves, the movie adaptations of comics with heroes typically do better that those without.  A huge percentage of comic book readers started out with super heroes.  People, including myself, are all about the tights and the fights.  Sometimes they feel like a security blanket, it’s hard to let go.

    I try to expand my horizons as much as possible and am no means narrow-minded.  A quick look at my pull shows all super heroes but I have expanded, in large part because of this very website, to books I would’ve never discovered before.  At the moment Sweet Tooth is one of my favorite books.  A year ago I never would’ve given it a second glance.  I Kill Giants, The Stuff of Legend, and even Mouse Guard are all titles I’ve discovered beyond my old ‘comfort zone’.

    But some of the new things I’ve discovered are still super heroes.  I grow up a Marvel fan, because my Dad was.  I read his comics, none of which were DC.  Now I find myself borderline obsessed with learning everything I can about the history of the DCU and getting into events like Blackest Night and Flash Rebirth.

    Having my eyes opened to the world beyond Spider-Man and Fantastic Four has been great but I can’t possibly take in everything.  It may sound like an excuse, but sometimes it’s a budget thing.  Can I spend the money on something I don’t know anything about when I can take the same four dollars and continue a story with characters I know and like?

    To each their own I suppose, that’s one of my favorite things about comics and their fans is the variety.  There is a comic for everyone, super heroes or not.  Weren’t not all ‘Comic book guy’ from The Simpson, hiding in stores, laughing at those that know less then us.  We discuss, we share and sometimes disagree.  That’s one thing I like more than super heroes.

  9. Death to whiny fanboys!!!

  10. Really well said, Josh. I couldn’t agree with you more.

  11. I just saw my first "BLACKEST NIGHT VS. SIEGE! PLACE YOUR BETS!" article a month before any Siege book sees the shelf. Ask me what I’d change about comics readers.

  12. Well said Josh!

  13. I agree that people really need to look at the positive of what’s going on. it’s the reason I listen to iFanboy instead of other comics podcasts. I don’t want to hear a bunch of drunken people who’ve never worked in the industry bitch about things. i want to hear people talk about what’s GOOD in comics. I love comics. I want to listen to people who obviously love them just as much as me discuss them. 

  14. Yes to Josh’s response.  In the store, customers who approach me with what thy love about comics get my full attention, even if I completely disagree with their opinions.  I’m happy to suggest things to them, and will call around all sorts of stores, and look online to help them track stuff down.  But, if someone walks into my store and starts complaining about…well, anything, from comics being too expensive (solution: don’t buy them…bitching to your comic book store employee accomplishes nothing but annoying them) to how much they can’t stand Greek Street (I’m not a fan, but appreciate that some people are enjoying it), I tune them out.  I find projects to work on that involve me being too busy to talk to them (for instance, commenting on an iFanboy article).

    As for the Criminal/Incognito sales number problems, I believe the reason Criminal is not selling is because many people were dissapointed in Incognito, and, are therefore "taking a break" from Brubaker/Phillips noir. 

  15. @akamuu: You shed a tear though when no one is looking right? 😉

  16. @TNC: When do I shed tears?  At the joy of happy customers?  The disappointment of jaded ones?  The beauty of Josh and Conor’s answers?  My need to take a break from Brubaker/Phillips?

     Maybe a little bit at each.  I’ll never tell, though!  8D

  17. I’d like to state I am in total agreement with The Circle being a very good book.  I bought it based on it how much I enjoyed the stuff Brian Reed was doing on Ms Marvel and found an even better book.