Why Comics Readers Are Setting It All Back (And Not For The Cliched Reasons)
The other day, I read a pretty insightful entry in the mega talented Mike Choi’s blog about the way creators perceive internet fan discourse. I know I’m not bringing anything new to the table by observing that there are posters out there who hide behind anonymity and make crazy/threatening remarks all the time, but those people are easily filtered and relatively harmless and, to be honest, pretty much just boring at this point. So are the flipside, the insanely positive fans who are unable to critique and defend their favorite creators and characters with a quasi-religious zeal.
What’s starting to disturb me more is the reaction to this that I see on a lot of the more moderated/respectable blogs – this conscious attempt to cut ties with the tastes of the hoi polloi and instead turn the topic to how cleverly you can savage a certain creator or book. Mike Choi is right – the switch is defaulted to “snark” all across the blogging community and everyone’s tripping over themselves to be the funniest guy to say something’s going to suck.
I’m increasingly beginning to feel that the topic of conversation is turning from comics themselves to the comics community, because everyone’s trying to take sides and generate controversy. Everyone wants to start some shit or get some gossip, everyone wants to know if marvel b0y’s going to set the photocopier on fire and dress up like Dan Buckley to try to fire Joe Quesada. Not that there’s anything wrong with wanting to know that, I’m enjoying this little drama as much as everyone (except for when people turn their blogs into dedicated spoiler dumps), but doesn’t everyone remember comics? Does it really take All Star Superman #10 to get comics discussion going these days, even if it’s just “OMG best issue ever”? And no, I’m not counting the latest 40-thread viral controversy about whether (X) or (Y) is racist or misogynist.
The only conclusion I can come to is that fandom has gotten so comfortable in its insular little group that it’s completely forgotten how to be a readership. It seems like the majority of commentators on the Internet either take comics so seriously they achieve that fanlike zeal and are unable to critically assess it, or so eager to differentiate themselves from the first group that they take nothing seriously and dismiss a great deal of material based on excerpts and press, a phenomenon exacerbated by the scans_daily group. Quoting that place is like Roger Ebert referencing Beavis and Butt-Head watching ten-second clips of films.
If you’re so jaded with the industry that the default reaction to any announcement is to jump to be the first person to make the wittiest slam, why do you care enough to write about it so much? The entire thing is starting to feel like a self-feeding Player Haters’ Ball. It’s not like we’re blameless; we ran Downcounting, but I’d argue that was somewhat different. I just see a plethora of pessimism – a lot of slamming books for “mistakes” that are the reader not reading closely enough, a lot of slamming comics based on assumptions of what is ‘bound to happen’ in later issues.
This has gotten a little rambly, but this topic just really gets me these days. I’m not asking for an end to criticism by any means, but it just seems to me that criticism without reading is the default position now, and that really precludes any constructive discussion. In the end, I guess this is really what I was trying to get at: