Was I Just Embarrassed By My Comics?


I had some people over yesterday for dinner (I got a bbq and cooked chicken correctly last week and now that's what I do with it now, I cook that particular kind of chicken on it until I can level up to other edible content), and we all had a great time, nice conversation, the whole bit.  

After dinner, my wife Whitney and I took two of our guests around the new place–they hadn't seen the upstairs yet–and we were showing them the bedroom, when one of our guests noticed a few comics on Whit's nightstand. Ealier that evening, I had, in a flurry of "cleanthisshituprightnowholycrapanyminutetheywillbeherewhatthehellisTHAT?" I moved my normal 1-2 week old stack that resides on top of my nightstand into one of the drawers, the top one, the top drawer that means the books will get read. The second drawer…that drawer is where comics go that have been read, or, worse books that will never get read, like the most recent Astonishing X-Men, because when I opened it I realized I had absolutely zero idea of what was going on, and, worse, that I didn't care at all–this frustration, by the way, was followed by the warm glow of, "well, I guess I'm dropping the title, eat that Ellis! EAT IT!"

So, while I had cleaned up my stack of comics, receipts, magazines and prescription for this shampoo that I got months ago that's supposed to be good for my freakin' scalp, a prescription that I have not redeemed (is that the phrase?) because, like, I hate getting those things red–filled, I just hate it, mostly because pharmacies freak me out, with the white coats and the lines and the little circle with an arrow that's on the floor to let you know exactly where to stand and that whole blood pressure arm thing that makes my eyes bulge out whenever I use it. So I had actually forgotten to check Whit's nightstand, which had two issues of this Spike comic that she's reading (She freakin' loves Spike, which, like..whaddaya gonna do? She already married you–what, you wanna deny her a crush on some character from that show she loves that you are really ambivalent about?) and my friend said, "Hey, is that a comic? Is that yours?"

And then, without thinking, I did the natural thing–I went (eyes rolling, of course), "Oh, no–that's not mine, here is what I'm reading," and opened the top drawer of my nightstand (never the bottom–never the bottom) and proceeded to pull out about 30 comics, ranging from DMZ to Green Lantern Corps to iZombie to Superman and then…then it happened:

I felt a little embarrassed.

Now, I love comics. I really do.  And I love talking about comics. Utterly.  But there was something about that moment, when I took this guy from two random comics to a full-on intensive presentation on what was happening, right now, in the world of comics, which meant, really, that it went from, "Oh, cool, there's two comics" to "Two comics?!? Check this out–here's thirty! (At least!)"  I mean, I didn't go through all the various titles and try to get him caught up, but I could see that I had just gone a little too far.  But my friend, I mean, he wasn't freaked out, he didn't bolt out of the room–he seemed genuinely interested in what the books were about, but the wave of embarrassment that I felt then turned into something different, something a tad more subtle: mild ambivalence. Like…I just didn't feel like going through all the books, explaining why there were three Green Lantern titles, or what a "Blackest Night" was, or why the storyline in Amazing Spider-Man wasn't really a story, it was more this weird fill-in that no one really asked for and was turning out to be kind of boring, which was pretty troubling, you know, given how good the book has been–but look at how short Mary Jane looks next that window, I mean, Quesada really blew it with that panel, right?

So, let's press pause for a bit, okay?  Just picture my friend and I in front of my bed with a bunch of comics, with him kind of excited and me trying to explain everything, opening books, handing him others–just pause that image.

The night before, we had other guests over (it was a busy weekend) who were staying the night, and my friend Jeff, who is a regular comic reader in trades saw my bookshelf, which has a fairly large (and plenty awesome) selection of trades and he literally just pulled up a chair and stared at the books, kind of in awe, I gotta say, as I pulled out books he might like to read, like Criminal, Chew and Fell ("But..it's signed," he whispered. "Oh, yeah, he signed it for Whit, as you can see," I purred.).  Now, clearly, I was more than happy to show him some key books because I know that he likes the medium, he just doesn't do issues. But I know that our tastes overlap, and it was a real pleasure to see his face when he looked at Sean Phillips' art for the first time.  

So, we have two moments, two moments that are ostensibly the same, "Oh, you are interested in comics? Let me show you some comics, then!" — but I had two pretty disparate feelings about each encounter.  

In the first situation, my friend (Zach) was interested in comics, he just hadn't read anything in a very long time, and he asked, after each time I showed him something, "Is it good?" And I found myself after first breezing by that question–of course it's good, otherwise, why would I buy it? Why would I show it to you? But…but, the more he asked it, the more I would find myself saying something to the effect of, "Well, it's pretty good, it's just, I mean, this issue is kind of all right, but, you know, over all it's okay right now but it was really good a few months ago…" but I would never say that with the trade conversation, for obvious reasons.

But, I mean, look: I admit it, when I was talking to Zach, I was tired, I had been in class for six hours that day, just had a dinner party, I had work the next day plus a fairly nice audition, and I just wasn't "up" to doing the full sell on comics. Usually, I put my arm around the interested party and show some really great issues, talk about the compelling writing, the fantastic art, and just how amazing an art form comics is and how cool it is to be able to experience this stuff week after week.  But, last night, I looked all the over-the-top covers, like, really looked at them, and part of me just felt, "Man, this…this is just kind of silly, like…what the hell am I doing with all these comics?" I mean, thank goodness Zach didn't see any of the prices (I did a quick iPad demo showing him how comics look on that screen–a fantastic diversion)–then I would have felt like an ass.  

To be sure, part of the fun of collecting comics week to week is that they are silly, that they are fun, that they are wild pieces of entertainment, with over the top characters and dramatic covers–that's a huge reason why so many people have such a reaction to them.  I love that about comics–I love that.  But it was just weird to step out of that mindset for a few seconds, because (and this is part of the point I am trying to make) I don't feel that way at all when I show folks my trade collection.  

We've talked about this before, the value of trades–their majestic form factor, the fact that the pretty much have beginnings, middles and ends, that they are sturdy, they look good in a bookshelf, and, well, I guess they are more permanent feeling, in a way, than weekly comics. When I show people my trade collection, I am basically saying, "These are the stories that I value, that I want around me, that I want to come back to–and I want to share them with you, esteemed guest."  They are more grown up, I guess, compared to the stack of crazy comics that keep sliding off my nightstand.



The pile of comics–like, spread across the table, the bed, whatever–is, like, it's the very picture of glorious excess.  It just is–a solid stack of comics can cost you $40, no problem. A big, messy, fantastically fun pile of madness that you can get through in a few hours that provide real value in our lives as regular comic book readers. We understand why there are multiple Avengers titles. We know the difference between Amazing Spider-Man and Ultimate Spider-Man.  But, to the normal person, this stack—a stack of media that came out in one day mind you, not over the course of a few months. A stack of magazines?  Usually takes a few months to build.  If I wait a few months to get the comics in my pull list? It's not a stack–it's a box.  I just wonder…I just wonder if, when I show someone my big bag of comics, if that I am turning this curious person off, a bit.  A stack of comics is pretty daunting, you know?  Oh, you'd love this comic, but if you like this one, then you should probably check out this, that, the other thing and wow, I can't believe I almost forgot this one over here–most people are busy enough without this kind of confusion.  

Yes, I know that it's fun to get people into comics, and yes, I know that you can sometimes get away with just recommending one or two books. But, really, can you?  Really?  Isn't it just easier to recommend a trade or two and leave it be?

Are comics a love affair measured in quantity, not quality?  Obviously, we jump to the "quality" argument, but we suffer from a quantity reality. When I showed Zach my comics, I could tell that he thought they were cool, that it would be something fun to check out, but I am equally sure that if I were to give him a list of comics to check out, he wouldn't know where to go, and when he saw the price, he would definitely be turned off.  Yes, I know–just give him a trade or two to borrow or recommend he buy.  But…like…that's not…that's not really what the industry needs, is it?  I just wonder, sometimes, if the profundity of titles, as wonderful as it is it have so much variety and so many wonderful storytelling opportunities, will be, in the end, the thing that alienates future readers (if it's not doing so already).  How many of us can't wait until the trade version of Superman: Secret Origin comes out so we can give it to our friends who used to like Superman and who are curious about comics?  And how many of us are also going to suggest that that same friend go out and pick up the next Superman issue by JMS? It's not going to be the same number, folks. No. Way.

Maybe I am reading too much into my experiences this weekend.  But, hey, that's what I do–I think too much about something and then I write about it. But I was really surprised–almost dismayed–when I realized I wasn't super excited to talk about weekly comics with my friend. It reminds me when of those times when I read comics in a cafe or a restaurant and kinda hope no one notices so I don't have to have that "Oh, I used to read comics, too!" conversation. I know–selfish. Lame, even. But sometimes, you just want read comics, not market them, and, as fans, I feel like we do that a lot.  

As I close this article, I want to stress that I really do love the variety and excitement that I get when I go to the comic book shop every week.  I am lucky to have a job and be in a community of folks (you guys) where I can talk about the stories and characters and make it a nice part of my life.  I just wonder if regular people are looking for that kind of experience these days, especially in this Facebook era–I mean, one can be a casual reader of the New Yorker…can one be a casual comics reader?  And if not, what does that mean?

 


Mike Romo is an actor in LA who really does love comics and still has a ton of dead bees outside his place.  You can email him here, or hang out with him on twitter.

 

Comments

  1. The thing is, I think, if getting a big stack of paper issues every week at a specialty store and dropping a lot of money on it isn’t a realistic thing for most consumers to do, the industry needs to wake up to that (instead of trying to sell MORE paper to the same people who are already buying it)  The trade model and the electronic model look a lot more like the future.  Just for example — I’ve been having a lot of fun with the backup material in the Shadowland tie-in books, which tells some of the older stories involving the same characters.  And I ended up going to the comics store and spending a few bucks on back issues.  But I didn’t get THE WHOLE story, and I’m probably not going to do that all too often.  Plus, I had to GUESS which issues were being referred to in the backup material, since it didn’t tell me very much.

    Imagine instead if the recap pages had a URL where I could go and buy a bunch of digital issues that I could spend a lot of time sorting  and going through and not worrying which nightstand I was going to throw them in.  Food for thought.

    On the other hand, though, if the issue format is what you’re digging, no need  to be embarrassed! 

  2. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I’m actually kind of concerned about Mike’s scalp now. 

  3. Great read…  last week I was flying back home from Miami, and of course TSA decided they needed to do a random bag check w/ my bag… So they pull all the contents out of my bag and when The security lady reached the back pocket she pulled out a stack of comics i’ve been meaning to read.  Pulling out a copy of i believe ‘Office Downe’.. Her head pulled back in disgust like a visual WTF.  I had no reply..  it sucked. lol

  4. ohhh, Mike. This rings a bell with me. I’ve gone though this process a number of times.

    It’s not that we’re embarrassed of comics, I agree. I’m always reading comics in public. Most even casual friends know that I read comics, and I’d like to think I come across as a pretty well rounded individual (shutup, Paul). But there are these moments when we have a captive audience, and we have a moment to just share this hobby, and we tumble to the fact that this hobby does involve a whole PROCESS. Especially with modern comics. Because it’s not just "what’s good these days?" for us, because we have to qualify it with events and spin-offs and oh-batman’s-dead-right-now-but-he’s-coming-back and– well. It gets exhausting. What I’ve noticed? I end up talking about things like Chew or Locke & Key or Walking Dead — books that are unique and fun and that someone can get after a minute’s explanation.

    Of course, if they’re a lapsed reader, they’ll always ask, "but what about X-men/Spawn/Green Lantern? And then you take a deep breath…

  5. I’ve experienced exactly what Mike is referring to.  The "I thought you were so cool, but…" look.  I get it from my students occasionally when they find out I’m married, have kids, and don’t smoke pot constantly (they all think I smoke pot for some reason).  I’ve gotten used to it and don’t mind anymore. 

    @Paul – I’m kinda concerned about Mike now (and not just his scalp).  The Ellis detour and the prescription filling detour were both entertaining, but have me concerned about Mike’s sanity.  I think he might need a massage from the iFanboy office masseuse.

  6. @daccampo – A coworker of mine read Swamp Thing pre-Alan Moore.  When he found out I read comics he asked me if anything interesting happened after he stopped reading.  That was a long afternoon.

  7. None of my friends reads comics. Once I said that an average trade is about 20 dollars, which they found a ridicilous amount of money for some silly comics. I didn’t want to say how much of those are in my house afer that.

    Now you may think why I didn’t start defending comics and recommending some? Well, like Mike said, there’s ALWAYS the boring filler. Just look at the story of me trying to get my best friend into comics. "It shouldn’t be that hard", I thought "we have the same interests in pretty much everything else, why not this too?" 

    I wanted to recommend him some trades which I thought were really really good (Morrison’s JLA for example).

    I heard people consider JLA a great way to get into comics but for someone who doesn’t know thing about comics you still have to explain a lot of boring filler. I let him read the first trade, and he said it was kinda good, but sometimes he felt like "what the hell am I reading? Oh so that Green Lantern guy can do that. What the hell are Wonder Womans powers? Who’s Barry Allen?.Why do you spend so much money on such a confusing medium?

    I decided to change strategy. I let him read BATMAN YEAR ONE He thought it was okay. I was kinda perplexed. But when I thought about it, it’s maybe not that exiting if you don’t know what will follow, if you didn’t read other Batman stories before.

    So I just gave up and became embaressed about my comics for my friends. It’s a medium I enjoy, but trying to get your friends into it is just a waste of time and your feelings of dignity.

    (I want to apologize for any mispronouncations, English isn’t my native language)

    • You know, like most people I have a lot of stress in my life. Between work, taking care of my little boy, chores, etc. etc. I don’t have a lot of time for fun stuff. I like to read novels, listen to audio books but at the end of a hard day when I am tired and only have 15 minutes to chill, I reach for the comic books.

      I also work in a stuffy office and sometimes find it hard to make it through the days. But Wednesday rolls around and I have an hour to walk to the comic shop, escape for a little while and this happens every week!

      I am new to comics but am so glad I picked it up as a hobby. Entertainment wise, novels and audio books are my dinner. Comics are my dessert. I for one think that it is a healthier form of dessert than video games and television.

  8. Comics like She-Hulk are hard to not be embarrassed about . . . despite the quality of certain runs. 

    I think comic readers need to feel ashamed.

    This was a good article.

  9. hey guys–

     

    thanks for reading it…just to be clear-my scalp is fine, it’s just a little dry this summer. I went in for a mole check and she gave me this shampoo.  Of course, this might be far too much information for you already.

     Never feel embarrassment to be sure–I did all that in high school–I mean, I rarely feel embarrassed (I do my best to not care what other people think-I want them to be happy, but I don’t react as much to judgement like I used to), which is why I thought it was worthwhile to write about it.  

     

    Oh, and yeah–my detours…well, sometimes you gotta let the floodgates open a bit to get into a groove, you know? 😉

     

    have a great day..

     

  10. I can relate to this article 100%. As I’ve said before, the sheer amount of titles being published by the Big 2 have pretty much priced me out of being a single-issue reader, at least when it comes to mainstream superhero stuff. I still pick up a few titles each month, but have pared it down to only those that I really enjoy. As a result, I only visit my comic shop about twice a month, which is fine because there’s not much of a "community" there anyway. Frankly, it’s just too much work for me, both financially and time-wise, to keep up with everything that’s going on. I think I’m pretty much turning into someone like Mike’s friend Jeff that reads comics regularly but not in single issues. Then again, I only started reading single issues as an adult in 2006 so I think it’s easier for me to pull away from that habit than it might be for those that have been reading single issues since they were 12 or younger (like most commenters, bloggers, and podcasters in the online community, it seems).

  11. Comics are authentically a true american (North) art form… Joe Palooka sold over a million copies an issue…but things changed the US government decided they were bad -comic code authority changed it all. Comics went from being for everyone to an alternative medium for the fringe…push ahead 50 yrs and we (lovers of comics) tend to live on the defensive because of the stigma of shame associated with the medium…Also i am an aging grouchy bastard who is also a metalheaded punk who is just completely tired of explaining and educating people- even my friends. I just want to read my comics as i listen to Napalm Death, because it makes me happy and fuck the rest. No explanations, no apologies – Nuff said. 

  12. I’ve been trying to get past my "fanboy embarrassment" for some time now. Very few of my friends read comics—at all. For years I hid the fact that I read comics from most of my friends but lately, I’ve just stopped caring. However, I still catch myself in these awkward moments from time to time when I realize that people are definitely judging me for my comics fandom. I run a podcast called wednesday is for comics with some buddies, we mostly just talk movies actually but some of my friends act like I’m a crazy person—yet many of these same friends play RPGs on xbox all the time??? Double standard! At least I’m READING… funny how playing video games and watching movies based on comics is acceptable but READING a comic is still seen as kinda weird.

  13. I don’t know if I’ve ever really read or enjoyed many of Mike Romo’s articles.

    But this was extremely engaging.  One of the best articles I’ve ever read on this site.  Excellent writing Mike.

    When it comes to friends, I just don’t try too hard to get them to read.  Just keep it casual.  As long as I enjoy it.  Plus my girlfriend only reads the best ones.  Ultimate Universe, Avengers, Kick-Ass (my comic) that’s it.  Anything more is too much to be casual.

  14. Facebook says 08/28/10 is "Read Comics in Public Day" and yeah… I’m attending and it might be embarassing, it might be cool… if it’s cool, cool! If it’s embarassing, it’s gonna be cool to write about it on the net and share our embarassing moments of that day.

    So it’s gonna be cool either way. 

    Anybody else attending?

  15. @AvegersAssemble: Shouldn’t that be every day?

  16. Comics are a pretty big committment – it’s tough getting people hooked on comics in issues. It’d be like saying, "You should totally check out Mad Men! It’s only $2.99 an episode." I’m not saying they’re not worth it. But trades are much easier to "pitch" because you’ve got a contained story that they can continue with if they like it, like lending them the first season DVDs.

    also, I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets creeped out by pharmacies and does the whole "cleanthisshituprightnowholycrapanyminutetheywillbehereandistillhavetotakeashowerandnowthecocktailweiniesareburningcrapcrapCRAP" thing!

  17. I spent my latter years of high school reading comics in class. People that dismiss you because of that suck anyway, and I got a quite a few people interested in what I was reading. 

    Only reason I typically don’t read comics in public more is because they kind of suck to carry around compared to a small paperback or something. 

  18. i used to be embarrassed about comics but now i’ve totally got a "well this is what i like, this is what i wanna spend my money on, if that offends you in anyway, than f**k you, i don’t care, it’s not my problem if you pity me because you’re too ignorant, or because the thought of pictures and words together on the page scare you" type thing going on.

    a work colleague used to rip the piss constantly… so i leant her ghost world, then david boring, then maus, the essex county, then watchmen… she’s on the preacher now, and hasn’t said a bad word since…i think she’s hooked too. i worry that i kind of peer-pressured her into it, me and this other girl were discussing who the best robin was, and she came and sat with us and obviously felt totally left out…"what no scathing remark about comics being silly books for kids, the shoe is on the other foot now, eh? you’re in the minority now"

  19. I work as a Tain conductor out here in Texas, and all stereotypes aside about Texans, it is kind of hard to bring something up like comic books. Especially since most of these guys are about 15 to 20 years older than me, and they still call them funny books. But i believe when you give someone a trade they take it as a more mature product, and are more willing to try it out. That’s been my experince out here at least.

     We’ve been stuck out in the middle of nowhere, and I’ve lent guys some of my trades of Walking Dead, or the TPB of Identity Crisis, and they flip out. For some of them they were’nt aware of how sophisticated, and mature comics have come to be. 

  20. @JohnnyNormal

    ditto everything you said, scratching out metal-head, and replacing Napalm Death with obscure late 70s punk. 

  21. Two guys standing over a bed looking at comics… I thought this was going to turn into some kind of fanfic fantasy but alas no man on man on comic action. Still, enjoyable read. Keep up the great work, MR.

  22. Uh, I would just recommend not caring so much about what other people think. Period.

    The only "embarrassing" or troubling thing I see in your whole article is your notion that we live in a "Facebook era". We really don’t. I don’t define my life that way. If you just overcome the mental hurdle of seeing life through the vision of "social networks", then overconcern with what others think of you doesn’t really matter.

    I see this skittishness in the comic/geek community a lot, where people get very worried and sometimes defensive about openly liking the sort of entertainment that they like. But really it’s more of a general problem. Even fans of mainstream things like Twilight or Nascar–they get defensive about their own personal entertainment choices too.

    You just have to 1) Not equate your entertainment with your IDENTITY so much, and 2) Look in the mirror, evaluate your life, and then (hopefully) be comfortable enough with yourself that other people’s opinions won’t trouble you so much.

    It’s really simple. All it comes down to is not falling into group think or obsessing over social approval so much.

    That said, on my stack in my room, I confess that I usually put the LEAST kiddy/ridiculous comic on top. Because, y’know, it’s just one less thing to deal with, if I had to explain an issue of Power Girl sitting on top. But that’s really no different from someone not leaving a ridiculous-looking DVD on their coffee table when they know their colleagues are coming over for the first time.

  23. Hey Mike you even got a backhanded compliment from KickAss so you must be doing something right!

  24.  @froggulper – agree completely about not wanting to care about what other people think. The "facebook era" comment was more about people not necessarily finding community in things like comics and movies and stuff because the concept of community and networks are morphing–for many people, maybe not you–into something different.  Part of me must hasten to add that this column is not really about my problem or experience, per se–I just used the moment as a springboard for an article and as a conversation starter.
     
    But, to be sure, the need to find familiar people, to find a community, is a constant mix of compromising just how much you care about what other people think, depending on the social situation or the person/people invoved.  Sometimes I do (when I am auditioning, acting, or meeting new people at a party–I act in a certain way to keep things fun and social) and sometimes I don’t (most of the other times)…I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it–I think going overboard and not being yourself, as you are hinting at in your reply, I think that’s when it can become a problem.
     @ultimatehoratio — thanks for the nice words–and yeah, thanks to @kickass for the, uhm, compliment?
     
    thanks for the comments!

  25. I pictured Paul when I read this because I saw him in a video podcast.  Have a tough time knowing who’s who besides the main 3 podcasters.  So was surprised to see Mike Romo’s name at the end, and had to think of who that was.  That plus the strength of the article is what surprised me.

    Which brings to mind if there would ever be a "Best of" articles, or perhaps a published book of say 50 best articles?  Might be 1 more way to make hay?

  26. Y’know what? I’m overweight, over-thirty and I have a shitty retail job. We won’t even discuss my living situation. My comics are the *least* of the things I need to be embarrassed about. Comics don’t embarrass us, we embarrass ourselves.

     

  27. Good stuff, Mike. It seems like a lot of people can relate. I have some friends that have no intention of reading comics and the embarassment sets in at that point when they say, "WTF is up with all these boxes?!"

    To echo some of the comments before, I’ve tried pitching comics to friends but it’s a hard sell. A lot of these characters have such a rich history that a trade and a few floppies don’t do them justice. I think to the uninformed, comics are still viewed as for kids and having to rationalize that may cause embarrassment. 

     

  28. A good read…I’m getting ready to go away to school, and I’m debating on leaving single issues alone to go after trades instead. Still not sure, but I really enjoyed reading your experiences.

  29. hahahaha

    Awesome thread.

    The mix of love and anxiety for and about comics is fascinating.

    I got a tattoo shop right next to my comic shop with a bunch of tough guys with ink and hot chicks with tats.

    It encapsulates the poles discussed in this thread perfectly.

    And each pole is mostly cosmetic.

  30. Yeah, what Mike said to froggulper above… this isn’t really about caring what anyone else thinks of you. I don’t think Mike’s article was really about embarrassment about reading comics. And it’s not about tying your identity up in comics or the hobby.

    It’s easy to be a person who reads comics. It’s easy to recommend a comic book the way you’d recommend a book or a movie.

    The perhaps awkward moment that I think Mike’s talking about is that social moment when you reveal your whole internal comics reading process to someone. When you’re a regular reader of serialized issues in interconnecting universes, there are all sort of rules and rituals we create for what we purchase and why. And when you step out of your own head for a minute, it can be a little disorienting.

  31. I don’t read in public, but that’s not because I’m ashamed.  I just get easily distracted.  I like watching people interact.

  32. It can also be embarrassing.

    The obsessive nature that most comic readers have can overwhelm and "scare" people who do not understand the medium.

    You have the money issue in the context of a shitty economy.

    You have the massive amounts of prior knowledge and continuity.

    You have the array of comic book stigmas.

    Take a look at froggulper’s schizophrenic response: the declaritive first sentence to the honest and revealing last paragraph.

    There are fools in the comic shops talking about "still looking for a job" while they are still buying comics.

    There is plenty to be embarrassed about.

  33. @Romo – thanks fer a great and interactive article, i feel invigorated.

    @GloriousGodfrey – Discharge and Television to manage another feeding of Fear Agent.

    @ALL OF THOSE WHOM ARE CONCERNED – put the latest issue of Barely Legal on the top of your stack and people will recognize you as a man of feral urges, and not some freaky fringe dweller. 

  34. Dead Bees? You know bees are endangered… Bee Keepers Unite!

    Forget about being embarrased about what you like, I like N’Sync there I said it! 

    It did suck when my brother went to work with some of my friends who don’t read comics weeky like me or at all, and they were like oh your Nancy’s brother? She is always talking about comics! So now i get kind of self conscious when I talk about comics, in my head I am like man this person probably does not want to hear this…

  35. Another great read Mike. I’ve had a few of those moments with the comics laying around, both in my office, and at home. For the most part, people seem genuinely interested in what they are all about, I also discovered a few coworkers who love comics, but would never tell anyone about them until they saw comics in my office.

    Life’s too short to worry about what others think. Buy what you want, it’s your money, and do what you want.

  36. I read comics who’s gonna whoop me? I have tattoos of super heroes all over my arms. whos gonna whoop me? I turn off NFL and watch Green Lantern the animated series. Who wants to say anything?… I’m 100-0 dont care what anyone thinks. Dont be a bunch of girls

  37. I really enjoyed this article, as well as your abstract, mile-a-minute writing style. Not everyone can pull off writing the way you do, but you manage to and you do it very well, sir.

    Anyway, this piece touched on a few things that I’ve been thinking about lately and thought I’d share them on here.

    Firstly, I think that potential readers are definitely turned off by multiple titles featuring the same character. I have a great many friends who saw Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy and subsequently wanted to get into Batman comics. However, these same friends bolted when I took them to my local comics store and showed them all the Bat-Books on sale. I usually get them into trades via ‘Year One’, ‘Killing Joke’ and latterly ‘Court of Owls’ which works out fine, but, as Mike says, it doesn’t make monthly readers out of them.

    When asked to explain the death of Damian Wayne, for example, I had to explain that he died in ‘Batman, Inc’ Issue 8, but that the ramifications of his death were dealt with in most of the other Bat-Books. One friend, somewhat succinctly said “oh, that’s too many to buy”. I said he could just get ‘Batman, Inc’, but then he felt like he’d be missing out and, in truth, he probably would have been.

    The comics industry (in fact pretty much all sci-fi/fantasy-related media these days) seems so intent on ‘cleaning its act up’ and obsessively rebooting everything for fear that this new, hip audience can’t grasp the simple concept of continuity (or perhaps that modern writers can’t handle first-time readers). However, I think that making the books simple to get hold of is a far better strategy. Batman, in my opinion, should be limited to the main Batman title, Detective Comics and Legends of the Dark Knight (which fills in back story). Everything else should be in regular minis. Obviously this is in addition to the other Bat-family books.

    The way to attract new readers isn’t to make everything continuity free, but to make comics easy to get into, like drug dealers do with their product, lol.

    Finally, I know what Mike means when he explains his ‘presentation’. I’ve been boring the crap out of my friends for years now. In fact, when one of my best friends (an occasional comics reader, mostly of web comics) rang me today, I spent about 15 minutes asking him if he knew if Jeremiah Arkham was still Black Mask and, if not, what the heck happened there? When my girlfriend’s brother asked me for some comics info to aid his Batman presentation for college, I replied with a massively detailed account of the character’s publication history, together with little asides about Batman as a cultural icon for multiple eras. I guess I’m just sad that way.

    Anyway, thanks for a great article, Mike.