Sunday, April 5, 2015

My Love/Hate Relationship With Comics

With all the newfound love and popularity that the comicbook genre has received in the last decade, comicbooks have gained a much bigger presence within mainstream media. Everyday new fans arrive at their local comic shop, or online comic retailer, to pick up issues of their favorite characters and continuously follow their stories with great passion and dedication to those characters and their respective universes. For better or worse, comics are bigger then they've ever been.

However once you've gotten yourself invested into the comicbook genre, you eventually start to pick up on a few things. Things that people outside the medium would normally deem as trivial an unimportant. But to you it's important. Because you've invested countless hours of your time getting involved with it. Whether by investing money in your favorite title, discussing it with fellow fans, and even expressing your love for the medium through fan art, films, and various assortments of merchandise. Nevertheless, you care about comics. So it's hard to grasp sometimes that the medium you grew to love so much over the years, isn't as perfect as you once thought it was.

To get a better understanding of this, I'm gonna give a little history on myself as a comicbook fan:

As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of Spider-Man. I'm pretty much obsessed with the character and the entire mythos that encompasses him. And much like many new comicbook fans, I was introduced to the character through the movies and TV. When I was seven, I saw the trailer for the first Spider-Man (2002) movie, and some reruns of the 1994 Animated Series on Disney Channel. From then on I was hooked. I became obsessed with the character.

My first actual Spider-Man comicbook was Ultimate Spider-Man #16 (2000). And from there, I managed to get my hands on some old reprints of the first four issues of the first volume of Spider-Man from the 60s. Which included a reprint of Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962), the introduction of the character's origins. However I didn't actually jump onto the main Spider-Man comic until around the time Brand New Day was still in it’s early stages. Yes I'm aware of the immense hatred a lot of old time Spider-Man fans have for that particular story line. Especially since how One More Day (possibly the most reviled Spider-Man title EVER) had just happened around that time only a short while ago. Then sometime around the Gauntlet/Grim Hunt storyline, I had had a bit of a falling out with comics. For one reason or another, I just stopped reading them.

It wasn't until I signed on with the Hybrid Network, as a part-time podcaster then later full-fledged member, that I actually started getting back into comics again. I picked up Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #1 the day it was released on Comixology last year, and up until somewhere towards the tail end of Spider-Verse (a clusterfuck of an event I must admit), I was actually kinda enjoying it for the most part. 

But then Dan Slott (the current writer of ASM and Spider-Verse) opened his gaping maw, and basically slandered a great many Spider Man fans as being racist for being of the mindset that changing Peter Parker/Spider-Man’s ethnicity for the Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures reboot of the Spider-Man film franchise, would be nothing more than a PC driven gimmick. Of course that wasn't the worst of it. But needless to say, I've straight out refused to support or buy ANYTHING written by Dan Slott. Anyone who goes around and perpetuates the idea that I or others would go up to a kid of a certain ethnicity and say that they can't be Spider-Man because Peter Parker is white, is never getting an iota my support, much less a dime out of me again. Not until an apology is given to the many fans that he's since lambasted for even disagreeing with him. Course the likelihood of that is pretty damn slim.

Now I won’t go bashing anyone who wants to read his work. If you like Dan Slott, that's fine. It’s entirely your choice. Personally I can't support someone (who might I add has been known to antagonize comicbook fans on Twitter, women included) who would even insinuate something as insipid as putting a kid down from aspiring to be like their favorite superhero, just because they're of a different ethnicity then they are. It's flat out revolting and inexcusable behavior on Dan Slott's part. Plus if I'm not mistaken, I'm pretty sure that it's not wise to go and bite the hand that feeds you (i.e. your consumers). I mean just check out these two links here and here for yourself, and honestly tell me that this kind of behavior isn't at all unprofessional.

Since then, I've started to realize that he wasn't the only bad egg in the proverbial comicbook carton. With a combination of some Google searching, some browsing on Twitter and etc, I soon discovered that Dan wasn't the only comicbook writer/creator that's had an "interesting" relationship with their fanbase. I know it sounds like a conspiracy, but it's true. However because of my falling out with Dan Slott on ASM series, I've started paying more attention to the behind the scenes proceedings and politics in the comicbook industry. And the more I've learned as time's passed, the more depressed or infuriated I am of the industry's current state. Sadly it's a mess to say the least. 

With all this talk of diversity and etc. recently, it just bores and irritates me to no end. Nowadays, all I’m even asking for is a good story. A good story with decent or well written characters, entertaining story lines, and an overall fairly well constructed narrative. Now I’m not asking for Shakespeare levels of work, if I wanted that I'd pick up my copy of Hamlet, all I ask for is just a good story. None of this politically correct or social justice bullshit. Just a good story. That’s all.

I suppose to some that may sound like a pipe dream. I mean one can't just simply expect the highest quality of something to be continuously be produced. But I'd like to think of it as something creator's should aspire to. Sure there's bound to be a few duds every now and then. Nothing's perfect after all. But even so, shouldn't we as consumers expect better from people like Dan Slott and others like him? Shouldn't we at the very least expect them to behave like professionals, rather then go around social media spitting venom and harassing fans because they have differing opinions and criticisms of their work?

I don't know. Maybe it's just an old fashioned notion I suppose.