Greetings faithful readers. All three of you.
The time has come for me to call it quits here, perhaps forever, certainly for the foreseeable future.
It’s two things, really. The first is pretty easy to explain: I don’t have much money. I’m moving to a new state, starting school, and need to pay for textbooks and toilet paper and all that jazz. Comic books are ludicrously expensive, and the digital revolution is taking its sweet time passing along the massive printing and distribution savings to readers; frankly $3.99 is too much to pay for access to a single issue of a book you don’t own at all, and with each passing month that has become incredibly clear to me.
There are still a couple books I want to follow. But there are massive crossover events happening and planned for the coming months and since I can’t possibly afford keeping up with them in the way I’d want to, I’m not thinking it’s worth trying to keep up with them at all.
So, money. That’s reason one.
But reason two… reason two is something harder to articulate but perhaps even more inevitable when you consider everything I’ve had to say about comics since I got into them in the first place.
Namely, being a comic book reader is an absolute nightmare, and I’m ready to wake up.
I’m a guy who cares. A lot. I just do. I’ve let myself do it, and I’ll continue to let myself do it. I enjoy things more fully than many people. But the other side of that coin is that I get hurt by things more fully than many people too. For better or worse, I got into comics the Marvel way. And I’ve been choking on blood ever since.
You see, the thing is that my emotions are already invested in Marvel properties and characters which Marvel itself has established time and again to have zero regard or respect for. Their actions — in the books they publish and the solicitations they print — and their words — in interviews and announcements, in tweets and tumblr posts — establish with shocking consistency a complete disregard for people who devote themselves to the company’s offerings. Too many smirking writers, too many apathetic responses to outpoured passion…
I don’t have the luxury of just not reading books which horrify or disgust me. The simple act of being plugged in at all to comic culture — reading comic news, following comic blogs, talking with comic fans — guarantees constant exposure to the toxicity, ensures a perpetually painful emotional environment. So long as books which threaten or destroy things I love are being published, and therefore discussed, it is not safe for me psychologically to be anywhere near those discussions. I can read privately, quietly enjoying the odd book here or there, following the creators I’ve come to trust. But anything beyond that sets me up for something I am beyond sick of dealing with.
The fact of the matter is that in addition to how much financially poorer comic reading has made me in the last seven months, it has made me even more emotionally poor. Even stories which do not actually offend me — books I like — very rarely actually make me happy. They may intrigue me, they may entertain me, they may make me think. But bringing a lasting smile to my face?
Put another way: frequently a single panel or page from a comic ruins my day or week. I cannot remember a single time when the same — a panel or page — positively impacted me with even a fraction of that power. The net impact of immersion in comic culture is that I am an overall less happy person than I used to be. And unfortunately, by virtue of the nature of their immersion in the culture, the mere act of being in touch with most of the comic-reading folks I’ve met this year seems to maintain that unhappiness. Even when I avoid the news and don’t read the books, I get the inevitable “did you hear…?” message or see the inevitable “so this happened…” scan. It’s nothing intentional, but misery loves company. Avoiding misery means I’m going to have to distance myself from much of the company.
This is my way of saying, seriously, “nothing personal.” It’s not you, it’s me.
Or, more accurately, it’s the industry and my inability to abide by it healthily.
Like I said, I have a few books I plan to stick with if at all possible. If finances work out in such a way that I can even consider comics a viable ongoing part of my life, I will be sure to say as much here. And I’ve made several friends whose relationships I value for themselves, which supersede and I believe can outlast my severance from the industry even if it becomes total. So this isn’t necessarily goodbye to everyone, but it is the only goodbye I plan to give, and for many folks it is goodbye.
Many of you love comics. You’ve weathered many storms and wear them like a badge of honor. My introduction has, sadly, been far too brutal for me to likely ever truly love the industry. Maybe when the names I currently see at the top of editorial and creative direction have been replaced, and a new era is ushered in, or when the indie publishers which respect their creators and readers for bringing them success achieve the dominance that companies which do that deserve, I will give it another chance.
Meanwhile, consider Novelly Graphic, and the noteworthy comic reader community membership of Adam K. Bogert, suspended.