Some thoughts on a largely unimportant subject.
It occurs to me that I’ve been blogging about comics (among other unimportant topics) for just over a year now, and I’ve never once outlined my ideas to Save the Comic Book Industry.
Well, I don’t have any. I don’t think it even needs saving, truthfully. It’ll evolve or it’ll die, and as the past few years have shown, it seems to have chosen the former option (however begrudgingly). However, I do believe that the landscape of comic fandom could be a lot more palatable, so I submit the following contribution to the ongoing dialogue. These are what I consider to be the 5 steps that we all could do to make being a comic book fan a more enjoyable experience. They should all be common sense by now, but sadly, that’s not always the case.
1. Enjoy what you read, read what you enjoy. If you don’t like a particular title, drop it like a bad habit. Don’t keep reading out of inertia, or the need to be a completist, or even because “it might get good again.” And most especially, don’t buy a book specifically to bash it online! It’s plain and simple: if you don’t like it, don’t read it. Vote with your wallet. The comics industry may not be a democracy, but it is a business, and no one’s going to publish a book that nobody reads. And look, down the road, if it does indeed get good again, feel free to return. But don’t suffer through the bad times for the occasional high points; life’s too short for shitty comics.
2. Make your own decisions. Don’t buy a book because it’s hip, or ironic, or because your friends, the people at your comic book store, The Comics Journal, Wizard, CBG, or your favorite website or blog tell you to. All of these resources can point you in the direction of something you just may enjoy – yes, even Wizard – but in the end, like what you want to like simply because you like it (see also Rule 1).
3. Allow people to read and enjoy whatever they want, even if you think it’s the biggest pile of crap in the history of history itself. For example, I will never understand the appeal of tentacle porn manga, even if I live to be 1,000 years old, but there are people out there that enjoy it a whole hell of a lot. None of them are forcing me to read it, or telling me that I’m waste of oxygen for not enjoying it, so I figure I owe them the same courtesy.
4. No one likes a know-it-all. You know a lot about your particular genre, title or character of choice? That’s fantastic, honestly. Just don’t think it makes you inherently superior to anyone else. It’s just comic books. It doesn’t matter, no one really cares, and even though you’re the Grand Poobah (or, to use a phrase coined by Lene Taylor, the Alpha Monkey) of your particular geek clique, there will always be someone who knows more than you do. And if you’re an especially arrogant prick, said person will be more than happy to knock you on your ass, figuratively and literally.
5. This is probably just a reiteration of numbers 1 through 4, but stop the negativity already! Seriously, just stop it. Stop bashing books online just for the sake of bashing books online. Stop telling people that the books they like are crap, and by extension, that they are crap, too. Grow the hell up. You want mainstream acceptance for comic books and the people who love them? Stop acting like a bratty manchild (or womanchild, as the case may be). There are reasons why stereotypes like the Comic Book Guy character on The Simpsons exist, folks. Whether we like superheroes, art comix or, yes, tentacle porn manga, we still all like comics. We have to learn to play nice within our own little group before we’ll ever be allowed to play in the other kids’ sandbox.
5a. Truthfully, the other kids’ sandbox is overrated, so even if we never do get to go play with them, it’s really not that big a deal. That shouldn’t deter us from making nice amongst ourselves, though.
Of course, this isn’t just limited to comic books. These suggestions are equally applicable to Star Trek, sports, rock music, or anything else with a WAY too intense fan base; all you have to do is change the terminology.
It’s just common courtesy, folks. Think about it, won’t you?