Twelve Months Later


Until Mike Romo mentioned it the other day, I had almost forgotten that the beginning of June marked our first anniversary as members of the iFanboy team. (Actually, I had forgotten after remembering after forgetting and remembering and forgetting over the course of a couple of weeks. You think, “What do I need sleep for, anyway? I can walk around a little tired if it means getting some more stuff done and some more books read. What day is it? Oops, I seem to have left home without my pants. zzzZZZzzzbehindthewheelzzzZZZzzz.”) It seems like only yesterday, and also seems like three lives ago, that I was minding my own business when Josh sidled up behind me in that McDonald’s line wearing a dark trenchcoat and sunglasses and said, “We’ve read your file, kid, and you’re good. Real good. How would you like to leave all this behind and plunge into the cutthroat, high-stakes thrill ride of comic book discussion?” Once I got over my bewilderment, I found the whole experience remarkably similar to what I imagine it’s like to be recruited by G.I. Joe. And I’m talking about the fun old “every soldier wears his own outlandish getup, defeating the purpose of ‘covert’ and ‘uniform’ alike” G.I. Joe, not the new “Cirque du Soleil Presents: Robocop” G.I. Joe.

Since that day, a lot has changed. Or maybe not enough has changed. I guess it depends on how you look at it. So let’s do that.

A year ago, it seemed like comic book news was a steady stream of scandals and gasps of outrage and big events and exclusive deals. Twelve months later, it seems to me that there’s rarely anything in my news feed worth reading, much less getting up in arms about. I feel like I keep opening the Newsarama lobster traps only to find a Mr. Pibb can and an old shoe. I’ve been trying for some time to figure out whether every day is in fact a slow news day now, or whether spending every day sort of tending the lawn at iFanboy has just made me hard to impress and/or immune to nonsense after such steady doses of it. Am I imagining things? Didn’t it used to seem like there was always a “Kirkman v. Bendis,” like someone was always hatching some new conspiracy theory about the death of the medium or Publisher X’s plan to screw over their loyal customers? It seems like most of the “news” I read now consists of preview pages of a book that’s coming out in five days.

(Don’t mistake that for a complaint, by any means.)

A year ago, I had just switched from shopping every Wednesday to mail ordering my comics to save money. My weekly ritual before that had been to get to the shop ten minutes after it opened, buy the place out, and then devour as many as I could in the time it took to eat a five dollar footlong from Subway. (Actually, I think the subs cost more a year ago. How many things can you say that about?) I realized a few months into my money-saving masterstroke that the Subway ritual was one of the highlights of my week and that I could no longer participate in discussions about what was going on in any of the books. In my genius, I had removed with surgical completeness nearly every molecule of joy from my week. Then my “neighbors” started stealing my packages. Twelve months later, my shopping habits are willy-nilly like an unmanned fire hose on full blast, but I almost always end up at the shop at 11:03 on Wednesday morning.

A year ago, I could not believe that you couldn’t buy digital comics from the major publishers. Twelve months later, I cannot f***ing believe that you still cannot buy digital comics from the major publishers. Nothing has changed! In a year!

Fellas!: time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future! You’re older than you’ve ever been, and now you’re even older! The pirate ship has sailed. Just get the PDFs up on the server and call it a life, would you please? My beard is graying before my eyes. This is the current state of your business: I had the audacity to wait two whole days before getting to the shop this week, and I ended up leaving with nothing. No Chew. No Astro City. No Batman and Robin. It’s not the comic shop’s fault; they can’t afford to over-order, especially these days. But that didn’t make me any happier about shlepping over there and leaving empty-handed, knowing full well I could have donned my eye patch and peg leg and solved my whole problem from the couch in ten minutes. I mean… iTunes was introduced in 2001. Even the music industry stopped fighting this eight years ago. The music industry!

A year ago, Jeph Loeb’s Hulk was on issue #3 after a three-month absence. Twelve months later, the book is on issue #10, but so many of you well-spoken, apparently intelligent people are buying it that the sales more than make up for the lack of issues on the shelves. That is, apparently, Just The Way It Goes. The Red Hulk and the Sentry will just be a part of life from now on, like migraines and oatmeal raisin cookies that you think are chocolate chips until you bite into them.

A year ago, the third chapter of Lost creator Damon Lindelof’s Hulk vs. Wolverine miniseries was three years late. Twelve months later, the series has been finished in a relative flurry of creativity and get-this-off-my-desk-already. I weighed the issue of lateness in comics many times between the second and third issues of this book, and I think I end up with a different position every time. One on hand, I’ve tried to create timely comics two times myself as a part of this very column, and both were Hindenburgs of tardiness to one extent or another. The script I tried to write for Sequentially Ever After never ended up getting finished at all; I just couldn’t make the ample, generous deadline. The time I drew my own comic, I vowed it would go out on time no matter what, and the less said about that the better. Making comics is hard, if you’re doing it right. It’s work. At the same time… if you sit down and read Lindelof’s series in one sitting, there is no denying (is there?) that it suddenly becomes a different book between #2 and #3. The entire tone of it seems to change, and suddenly the story’s timeline is shifting backwards and forwards like a recent season of some kind of ABC drama the name of which escapes me. We begin to see jokey, aw-f***-it narration boxes. The delay didn’t hurt the book, necessarily, but it seems to have had a pretty clear and serious effect on it.

I dunno. Ask me again next year.

A year ago, I set aside a bunch of recent blockbuster event comics for a rereading. Twelve months later, I am just now getting around to actually reading them. I strongly recommend revisiting books like these after time has passed and the spoiler/tie-in hubbub has died down. House of M meant nothing much to me at the time; today, I find it really effective and more than a little moving as simply a story, rather than as a capital-E Event. In contrast, I was really wrapped up in Civil War on a month-to-month basis, but reading it as a standalone story a few years later was a chore so unpleasant that I almost didn’t finish. I don’t recognize the characters. I still can’t believe anyone would ever talk to Reed Richards again after that Thor/Goliath thing. His ass should be stretched across the gates of Asgard as a warning to others.

A year ago, I had nine books on my stack. Twelve months and two Stack Weeks later, I have tackled that pile and another one besides, which if nothing else proves that a 34-year-old has accomplished the reading of twenty picture books in the last year. (It turns out I didn’t like the way New Frontier ended, so sue me.) I’ve also started Scalped, caught up with Fables and Walking Dead, and read all the Fear Agent that the world now holds. You people and your impeccable taste have cost me approximately $7 million in the last year.

A year ago, I’d been using Twitter for a couple of months but still didn’t see the value; I jokingly called it hereIamstalkandkillme.com. Twelve months later, if Twitter ever goes offline I will shrivel and die. It would feel like when a telepath loses her powers in a comic; “The voices…! I can’t… hear the voices! So alone….” Twitter is a double-edged sword; I now know what 40% of you had for breakfast this morning and accidentally know you better than members of my family, while at the same time learning that some of my former favorite authors are actually history’s greatest monsters. I have gone from following creators on Twitter to unfollowing their entire careers in the span of a month.

A year ago, I had never done a podcast, never had a weekly deadline, and never put anything online that I actually believed anyone would read. The iFanboys were just voices in my headphones, albeit my favorite voices to emerge from said headphones on a weekly basis. Twelve months later, I am lucky to have become friends with some of the coolest people online and have almost, almost learned to watch what comes out of my gripe-hole because the creators I’m talking about will actually hear me now. I have very nearly become responsible thanks to you; despite its growth, which almost inevitably increases the troll quotient, this has remained an outstanding and fun community, and the Comments section has one of the lowest “faceless person I want to punch in the windpipe” ratios in comics. Thanks for every week that you have… welcomed me into your homes? Welcomed me onto your screens? Whatever you’re doing right now, thanks for doing that. Let’s see what the next twelve months have for us.


Jim Mroczkowski feels like he just wrote the thing you write right before you step outside and get run over by a humvee. In lieu of flowers, please send e-mail or Twittering.

Comments

  1. Happy Anniversary!  It certainly has been one crazy year.

  2. Hmmm, someone out there actually feels the same way I do about New Frontier. Anyway, I hope you have at least another year in you. I’ll miss those "get off my lawn" kind of articles if you don’t. Congrats on making it a year!

  3. Jim remains the one person on the writing staff no one has ever met. We hold open the possibility that he is a robot.

  4. Ah, but could a robot be so creative to come up with Ode to the Beyonder? when i need a laugh and a light hearted look at comics i look to see what Jim has written here, or on Twitter.

  5. I’m fairly certain Jim is simply one of Conor’s other personalities.  He has three: The Dark Knight (he hasn’t made an appearance in years), conor (the lower case "c" is important), and Jim (the nice, creative one).

  6. Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

    Wow.  So Josh is, basically, Ultimate Nick Fury?  Was he wearing an eye patch underneath those sunglasses?

  7. The best anniversary to celebrate, the year of Jimski.

    Here’s to another year, and another, and another….and…well I’ll be dangerous and say come back for a 4th year!

  8. Here! Here!

    Another year, another multitude of memories. Jimski, I’m always delighted to read what you have to write. Somehow it’s always a breath of fresh air.

    "A year ago, I could not believe that you couldn’t buy digital comics from the major publishers. Twelve months later, I cannot f***ing believe that you still cannot buy digital comics from the major publishers. Nothing has changed! In a year!"
                                                            
    Laughed out loud at that.

    Here’s hoping for another year of the mysterious Jimski darkening our doorway. ^_^

  9. A year ago today, I was sitting on my couch eating an entire bag of Oreoes.  Strangely, I’m doing the same thing today.  

  10. @Neb – but isn’t it a different house?

  11. i love your articles mike!!