They’re Not Out to Get You

If you are seeing this right now, then you are either someone who frequents comic book message boards or someone with poor reading comprehension skills who is very, very lost. If it’s the latter, welcome! Join us! The online community of comic book readers is a friendly, open one full of normal, well-adjusted people from all walks of life who just want to have some fun.

If it’s the former, just another reminder: the men inside the books are not trying to destroy you. Remember your breathing exercises. Put the keyboard down. It might not be a bad idea to get up and walk away for a little while.

It is never a bad time to issue this reminder. In fact, we probably don’t do it nearly as often as we should around here. No matter the season, no matter the year, a comic book writer or artist or publisher or imagined cabal of wicked-hearted industry conspirators is always in the midst of being blamed for intentionally inciting some controversy to personally injure some group of fans or another. Why did they cancel my new favorite book? Why did they jack up the prices and stick us with nothing more than these stupid “co-features”? Why did they unmarry my favorite character, heartlessly making him interesting for the first time in twenty years? Why did they abruptly take away my beloved co-features? It’s because they don’t care about the fans.

How likely does that sound?

If there is one thing I read on sites like this one more than “I beg you with every decibel I can produce for day-and-date digital comics,” it is the dire proclamation that the only people keeping the comic book industry solvent and extant are we, the Wednesday warriors who know where the only comic shop in town is and keep going there for our fix. How likely is it, then, that the publishers are maliciously or even apathetically alienating that exact group of people? As business plans go, “Target the few things that keep the last of our dwindling audience happy and jab at them like voodoo doll piñatas” does not sound like the kind of solid long-term strategy that gets you bought by Disney.

On some level, I know everyone knows this. They must. People cannot really believe, “Comic book creators don’t care about the fans. That’s why they have devoted their lives all day, every day, to making things that depend entirely on the fans liking them. They do it to rake in that fat illustrated periodical cash, and because they get off sexually on people shouting at them that they should be fired.” No one can sincerely believe it, yet I feel like not a week goes by without it being written in a comment thread somewhere.

That shouting thing does happen in person, by the way. Incivility is not just for anonymous message boards. I was reading the other day that some guy took the mic at the NYCC “Cup O’ Joe” panel and told Joe Quesada that he should resign because Marvel comics are unreadable. Talk about poor long-term planning. What was that guy’s best case scenario going in? I picture him talking to the mirror as he’s getting dressed that morning: “Okay. Panel’s at 3:00. I go in at 1:45 and sit through the My Little Pony panel to make sure I have a seat by the microphone. I eat my Lunchables in my seat. Then I sit through the half-hour opening presentation of comics I think are unreadable. This will be worth it, though, for the chance to let them know they are unreadable. All the other people in the room who are excited about the presentation will need to know. Then, I will stand in line and tell Joe to resign because of how bad he is at his job. Assuming he can hear the rest of my question through the deafening applause in the room, this is the point at which he will begin crying, ceremoniously break his drawing pencils, and walk out of the hall never to be seen again. This is going to be a super-great use of my day.”

I promise, fans, they do care about you. Sort of. They certainly care about your wallet. Sure, they may be cynical and take you for granted, but how wrong are they to do that? You see the latest news and think, “Ugh, they think they can just crank out a fourteenth Batman title and we’ll all just line up to buy it?” But when #14 hits the stands, they’re always right, aren’t they? Everybody did line up to buy it. And so did you.

It’s not like I don’t get irrationally angry. It was my minor in college. After they cancel Captain Britain, and then Doctor Voodoo, and then S.W.O.R.D., and then I open my browser and see Young Allies won’t even make it to issue #7, yes, it is hard to resist the urge to respond by muttering, “Well played, you magnificent bastards. You’ll pay for this,” like Dan Buckley and I are engaged in some kind of heated wargame. But resist it I do, because I always remember the part where nobody but me bought those books. Maybe one day, I’ll be wealthy enough to become a Renaissance-style patron of the arts who just keeps Jamie McKelvie and Sean McKeever in my court to make things for me, but until then I’m at the mercy of everyone else’s tastes. According to the Diamond numbers I should really stop looking at, Young Allies sold 21,000 copies on the best day of its life. You can say what you want about whether the book got enough promotion and holler because Marvel didn’t buy a commercial for it during Sunday Night Football, but in the end there’s only so much they can do to lead the horses to water. Now, if you want to go down to your store and wait by the racks until someone picks up Deadpool Corps and then grab that person by the shoulders and shake them until their eyes roll back in their heads, screaming all the while, “Young Allies was so much better than Deadpool Corps! Why do you kill everything beautiful?!” well, that’s between you, your conscience, and store security.

Come to think of it, that’s our real problem.

Comic book fans don’t care about the fans. No wonder we shout at each other so much.


  1. If only there was some outlet that told us what comics would be quality before we picked them up.


    But seriously if your going to argue that Marvel cares about us, they wouldn’t let Quesada write.

    OMIT did nothing but ruffle feathears and cause less people to read ASM, sure it might be more than most books, but it’s still less people. 

  2. This whole article is genius

  3. Jim thank you so much for writing this article. I think that, definitely, like you’ve stated here, it’s never a bad time to issue this reminder. 

    In an age where the nature of fans’ communication with creators is more intimate and accessible than ever, it sometimes astounds me how poor a picture of creators’ intentions and character some in the fan community are  still willing to paint and then go on vicious, often-times dehumanizing rants about. 

    We may not agree with every decision they make, but I think that, at the end of the day, it’s not unreasonable to believe that the intention of the vast majority of creators out there to is produce work which will not only pay the bills, but satisfy the fans.

  4. Jimski, you wonderful person. This is perfect. Every word of it.

  5. Well said….  The amount of venom for the "companies" is always distrubing for me. 

  6. I think maybe a little clarification from companies would be nice. For example Unknown Soldier wasn’t doing that badly… infact the numbers show that in the trade department it was keeping up with some of the bigger Vertigo trade hits every month. If the companies came forward every once in a while and said, "sorry folks, we are having to do this because of this" I think I would stop so much anger.

     Although I was rather upset seeing Doctor Voodoo ended and Franken-Castle cut short, Remender said he had 2 years worth of stories once upon a time… he even made a list of people Frank was going to get revenge on… now it’s just a distant memory. 

  7. Although I agree there isnt a global comic conspiracy of publishers looking for ways to piss off the fans. You have to admit though many publishers (especially marvel) keep around bad writers not because they are a fan favorite but because they for lack of a better term have "Tenure" at the company. 

    Jeph Loeb is a perfect example of this. Although Im sure jeph loeb is a nice guy and at one point he actually wrote some good comics. However reading his recent stuff makes me want to stab my eyes with steak knives and go die in a small lonely hole just so I dont ever have to see his name on a comic book again. I feel like the major publishers suffer from this progression…

    1. New hotshot writer comes on the scene breaks the mold and everyone falls madly in love with their work.

    2. Publisher sees this new hotshot writer and gives them 20 books and unquestioned control for the next 5-10 years

    3. 15 years later that hotshot writer is now old and talentless but since he’s golf buddies with the CEO and editors they keep giving him control of stuff. So he intentionally or unintentionally pisses on fans faces until he finally retires.

    I might be completely wrong on all of this but it seems to be this way from the outside looking in.

  8. @thompsonlive: There is only one reason why Jeph Loeb puts books out: because they sell.

  9. @thompsonlive If you used Claremont as an example it would be more apt.  We know he has a contract with Marvel that guarantees him 2 books a month (or something similar) and that’s why he’s still around.

    Like Conor said, Loeb still sells books.  Sells a LOT of books.

  10. @conor *sigh* you’re right as much as I wish it wasn’t the case they do sell. "Oh The Humanity" :p

  11. @Conor: What did you expect? The man keeps getting REALLY good artists. Even I, the Loeb-hater that I am bought one. ONCE! (only once though *cough*UltimateX#1*cough*)

  12. But the artist thing might have to do alot with what you’re talking about @thompsonlive

  13. @thompsonlive @mangaman Some of us actually enjoy the stuff he’s been doing. I’ve really been liking his Hulk run and Ultimate X

  14. Genius, quite simply.

    This is the same kind of madness that drives gamers to spew toxic venom onto every system that they don’t own. What is this compulsion, this instinct, to assign blame to Shadowy Figures every time something happens that we don’t like. Sometimes books that we like will be cancelled. Sometimes books that we don’t like will go on forevermore. That doesn’t make the books good or bad, it just makes them profitable and unprofitalble.

    These cats don’t have time to be plotting against us. No, they’re too busy clawing desperately against entropy to keep the goddamned industry alive. Do they make decisions that we don’t agree with? Undoubtably. Can we do anything about it besides yell into the void with self-rightious fury? Indeed we can. We can stop buying books we don’t like. We can encourage others to buy books that we DO like. We can avoid angry confrontations and senseless insults in favor of actual, adult dialogue.

    We live in an unparalleled era of communication, where we can interact with the people creating our favorite pasttime on the regular. Don’t like how something works? Ask them why it works that way. Don’t yell, don’t pout, don’t threaten to take your ball and go home. Just talk. Hard as it may be to believe, very often they’ll listen. 

  15. I second gobo’s statement. I think Hulk gets a bad rap from those people who pick up a few issues and just focus on ragging on some of the sillier aspects. Loeb sells because he’s talented at what he tackles, be it a massive action story or a more emotional one.

  16. @mangaman actually now that you mention it the artist thing might be a big contributor to it

    @gobo If your enjoying it great and honestly I’ve read a few issues of Ultimate X and it’s pretty good (mainly the art is what I liked about it). If marvel wants to put him on books that dont affect other series i’m fine with it, i probably wont read them but i’m fine with it. My problem is marvel giving him complete control of the Ultimate Universe and him vomiting on a storyboard and now the entire ultimate universe which was clean and beautiful is eternally marred with his garbage event.

  17. @thompsonlive: I assume you’re talking about ULTIMATUM which was written in conjunction with Bendis. These comics don’t happen in vacuums. It’snot like Jeph Loeb runsamok through the Marvel offices with no one to stop him.

    (I’m enjoying how the comments are proving the article.)


  18. Actually, Conor left something off his original point:

    Jeph Loeb gets to write Marvel Comics because the books sell… a shitload of copies, and better than almost anyone else.

  19. @conor dangit conor stop coming in here with your common sense and reasoning! I want to blame someone for that abomination of an event and I choose Loeb. I was happy before loeb wrote that event of which I will not utter the name of, and now im not happy. My logic is in infallible now let me live in my delusion. "DEATH TO LOEB"!

  20. Re:  Loeb

    Loeb also writes for his artists strengths very well.  This must be kept in mind when dismissing his sales based on getting popular artists to work with him.  When he works with McGuiness, he brings in big, bulky, superhuman-sized characters.  When he worked with Turner, he kept bringing in Superwomen, same when he worked with Cho.  Adams-Monsters, and the list goes on.  He is pretty good at giving the public what they want on multiple levels.  

  21. Wow- so much bitterness.

     Did someone hurt you real bad?  are you.. Ok?


  22. Fun fact: You’re never going to like every writer and every book that a company puts out.  Someone else probably does though.  If enough other people do, you’re screwed.  Deal with it.

  23. @gobo-I reject your reality!

  24. What happened to Ultimate X, anyway?  I was totally buying that.

  25. I think the whole creator paranoia phenomenon has a lot to do with folks being fans of characters instead of creators. It is really hard to think rationally about a work of fiction when there is so much baggage fans have attached to the character. In many cases, a fan has been reading the stories of a chracter longer than the creators have been producing the book. As a result, the fan feels they have more ownership of that particular character than the creator working on it.

    This never happens in any other work of fiction that uses original characters. It just gets really easy for fans to lose sight of the fact that despite all the good memories and great stories starring our favorite characters, they do not belong to us.

    If I may summarize Jim’s point in a phrase, it would be: Calm the fuck down, people.

  26. Books get cancelled all the time. I just sigh and move on. 


    Great article. 

  27. Gabriel Hardman said something really great in the latest iFanboy video of NYCC. The book (Atlas) got canceled but it still exists, there’s still a trade.

    It’s not like Marvel is going to come to your house and burn your copy of The Order. In fact, by canceling the book probably got more people to talk about it anyways.

    Great article Jimski,

  28. That reminds me of something Marvel (and maybe DC too; I only leave them out because I’m not a DCologist yet) has done a few times which I appreciate: even when the book doesn’t work, they keep believing in the team. Captain Britain got canceled, but they took Cornell and Kirkman and stuck them on Dark X-Men right away because they saw the magic there. Likewise, Atlas didn’t go, but the Atlas team is on Hulk now without a beat missed.

  29. I don’t blame the companies for books getting canceled.

    I blame the readers.

    Specifically the users on here.

    You can’t blame Marvel for Atlas at all. They busted their ass promoting and giving that book numerous attempts to take off.

    You can blame the cats on here that didn’t have it in their pull list though.

  30. The thing about blaming people who didn’t buy a product for the failure of a product is that those are the exact people who don’t care.  

  31. Loeb has his style and it sells bucketloads of comics. He’s written some of the best Batman stories of all time and my favourite DD book in Yellow. Sales figures don’t lie, so obviously a lot of comics fans enjoy him.

    The final line of the article is excellent Jim. It sums it up perfectly. 

  32. Aslong as we’re talking about truely stupid things fans say sometimes I want to bring up the point I’ve heard people making about Marvel just copying the price cuts from DC.

    The press releases were made within hours of each other. Even all the Marvel guys were at the DC panel (which they probably wernt) and they immediately pulled out their ipads and laptops to start working on a plan to cut the price (which they probably didnt) thats simply not enough time to make a big statement like they did about pricing. It would take weeks to sort something like that out.

    So yeah, stop saying silly stuff fans

  33. Are people really begging for day and date digital?

    I’m asking for real because I haven’t noticed…

  34. @JumpingJupiter I know I am

  35. They do care.

    Cats on here all the time talking about how tired they are of the same old same old in comics. Bitchin about events and crossovers and gimmicky marketing and the fact that there are no new characters and whatnot.

    While they buy it and "meh" at books that "don’t matter."

    Or they cut books from their pull lists that need the sales so they can stay on top of Shadowland, which will see the end of the story and a hardcover release regardless of whether they buy it or not.

    I checked your pull list. I blame you.

  36. You shouldn’t buy something because it "needs sales". You should buy it because you want to read it. If people wanted to read stuff, they’d keep reading them.

    Never trying something new, well that’s a problem in a way.  But it’s not exactly evil.

  37. I buy in excess of 70 titles a month (honestly it’s ridiculous.) I’m always willing to try an issue or storyarc of a new title especially if I hear good things (most often from iFanboy.) I tried Atlas and didn’t really enjoy it, so I didn’t continue reading it. The idea that it’s somehow my fault that Atlas didn’t survive is just plain silly. Some times, as much as it sucks, there just aren’t enough people to support a product you like. It’s not just comics where this happens it’s all areas of business especially in this economic climate.

  38. If you want a diverse industry, people should support quality books that need sales.

    For example, I love Bendis’s New Avengers and Gage’s Avengers Initiative. If I had to drop one of them, I would drop New Avengers. Why?

    Cuz Bendis’s New Avengers ain’t going anywhere. Those collected editions will be available and the book will survive.

    Sure, I’ll be out of the know on a great deal of the Marvel universe . . . but I’d rather see a quality struggling title continue than support a healthy selling quality title that will be there anyway.

    Jonah Hex? Freedom Fighters? Zatanna? Hawkeye & Mockingbird?

    Not to mention the Vertigo/Image/Darkhorse stuff.

    And I’m mostly joking about blaming the users on here. Mostly.

    I still blame ohcaroline though.

  39. And D, thanks for carrying the industry on your financial back.

  40. The reader’s only responsibility is to buy the books they most enjoy. I truly believe that. Why someone reads something is only of concern to that person.

  41. part of the problem as well is that these "great" books don’t get significant attention and discussion until after they’re cancelled. I’m in no way a 20 book a week pull list Wedensday Warrior, BUT i am aware of most titles out there that are popular and at least notice them on the shelves at the LCS. I never really heard of Atlas until the cancellation thread was posted on this site. To me that means that its so difficult to navigate through the weeds and find the hidden gems until its too late. 

  42. I’m not saying I’m carrying the industry on my back. I was just giving some constext to what I was saying. It is a sizable financial investment for me, considerably more than I spend on any other form of entertainment. I’m not complaining I feel i get my money’s worth.

  43. I think you can do both: buy books you enjoy and help "save" books from cancelation.

    And obviously you should only buy books you enjoy.

    Ton of users are consistently buying books they don’t like. Check the threads.

    I hear you D. I like comics a lot and could probably buy 70 books of stuff I enjoy with some careful searching.

    I just don’t want to dedicate the money to that.

  44. I really hope they make a trade of Young Allies so I can buy 10,000 copies and show them how wrong they were to cancel it

  45. Scorpion is right.  This is all my fault.  Fortunately, I don’t care!

  46. The fans ruined Spider-Man! He sucks now!

    Damn you, Sharktopus!


  47. Jimski never ceases to write the best articles around. This was probably the one I’ve enjoyed the most during his tenure here, which is actually quite a feat, as the bar has been set pretty high.

    On the subject of Loeb, I think it’s unfair to say he has no talent and he writes bad comics. I think it would be more accurate to say he writes comics that don’t appeal to what you may specifically enjoy. Just because he writes something I don’t like, it doesn’t mean it is poorly written. it just means it’s not my cup of tea. I know Loeb is a good writer because he has written a lot of things i have enjoyed in the past.

    He gets a lot of flack for Hulk. Now, I read the first year or so of the book, because I like the Hulk and was intrigued enough by the mystery to give it a shot. I didn’t like it, so I dropped it. But, I don’t think it was poorly written. You have to take into account what Loeb was attempting to do and if he pulled it off. He wanted the title to be a big, lowbrow action slugfest with over the top moments and a little mystery. I think he pulled that off. It’s just not a take on the character I’m interested in.

    Just because you don’t enjoy something doesn’t mean it is "bad." Sometimes it just means you aren’t the target audience for that product.  I totally get why a LOT of people bought that book. And if they like it, I’m glad they got the opportunity to read it and enjoy it. I will pass on it, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be published.

    So many people think comics are just published for THEM. Not every comic has to be geared towards your individual tastes. The comic reading community is a vast range of people with varied interests and things they find pleasing. A lot of people went nuts over Blackest Night. I thought it was just "Marvel Zombies meets the Care Bears" and didn’t see the big deal. Whatever. It shouldn’t make people enjoy it less or give them the opportunity to purchase it. I didn’t like that particular story. But the great thing about comics is there are plenty of OTHER things being published that i DO like.

    So give Loeb a break. The guy is making his fans happy. if you don’t like his stuff, don’t read it. There’s plenty of stuff you probably WILL like. Go read that and tell us how great it is.

    Comics fans should spend a lot less time tearing down the things they don’t like and a lot more time raising up the things they do like. It’ll only help the industry if you spread the word on what we should be reading instead of yelling about what we shouldn’t. 

  48. @JVF  I totally appreciate this thoughtful analysis.  On the other hand, I think when some people say "bad" they actually mean "bad," and in a way saying "You don’t really mean that" is as dismissive as saying "you are stupid if you like it."  I think it’s okay to express any opinion (including a qualitative analysis of how good you think something is) as long as one is willing to make room for other people to feel differently.

  49. @ohcaroline @jvf Also, when someone says something is bad, it’s inherent that it’s THEIR OPINION that it is bad. Me saying Two and a Half Men sucks, shouldn’t diminish anyone’s enjoyment of it. Clearly it’s exceedingly popular and lots of people like it.

  50. @gobo  Well, I think part of the reason this is an issue is that some people behave as though their evaluation is based on objective fact and belittle people who feel otherwise.  I just don’t think it’s necessary to go to either extreme.

  51. Nothing is bad. Everything is good.

    Let’s all hold hands and run through the comic meadow sniffing flowers and dog shit with equal delight.

  52.  See?

  53. Absolutely.

  54. Kumbaya mah lord!

  55. one thing i’ve learned from this site that has helped me a lot is the term "its not for me" is really a good habit and perspective to get into when talking about things you don’t like. There is a difference between poorly executed work and personal taste, and i think super fans (which we all are) confuse the two quite often. 

    I personally don’t understand how someone can NOT like Superman, but i respect your taste…just like someone else will not understand how i don’t like the X-men. Its all different preferences.