Trouble with Comics, Trouble with Comics

Trouble with Comics

The name of this blog started as a throwaway joke — when I worked up the first test version of the front page, the first line of the fake, place-holding post I put up was, “The trouble with comics is…” and somehow it stuck.

My trouble with comics right now is that so very few appeal to me. From the age of 6 until the past couple of years, I existed on a weekly habit of comics, like most American “mainstream comics” readers. From the age of 15 until my early 40s, a week without a visit to a comic shop and the accompanying multiple purchases (lowest week, 20 cents — highest, over $200.00) was virtually unknown. Nowadays my pull list has I think one or two monthly titles on it — Fatale and Daredevil — and I no longer find myself looking forward to the yearly-or-so offerings of creators I used to rabidly follow, like Ware, Clowes, or Los Bros Hernandez. I understand Jaime recently did an amazing two-part story about Maggie’s love life. I don’t know that I’ll ever read it. I’ve lost the habit, the drive, the addiction to the artform of comics, I think. Maybe it’s cyclical and my trouble with comics will go away. I am still passionately interested in the subject itself, still read a metric shitload of blogs and sites and I do re-read some of my favourite comics and graphic novels from years past. But the digital revolution leaves me pretty cold, and that seems to be where it’s at for many people interested in comics these days.

I do miss the days of hanging out in the comic shop and talking for hours with the staff and my fellow readers, speculating about storylines and creative shakeups and sharing storage tips and recommending distant shops we’d visited once, as in a dream, with wonders to behold. It seem like comics has become more solitary and more insulated somehow. And the issues themselves are so divisive — issues like piracy, or the difference between traditionally-produced comics versus all-digital — that there’s no room for civil discourse. I’ve seen online friendships disintegrate over subjects like this, because no one seems to listen or consider any other point of view, they just wait their turn to shout their position more forcefully. I’m as guilty as anyone — I honestly think if you buy DC’s planned Watchmen prequels you are an unredeemable scumbag and a traitor to comics. If you’re a creator working on them? You can go fuck yourself, I will never buy your work again. That’s you, Darwyn Cooke. And you, Straczynski. I never liked Azzarello’s shit much anyway. Still blows my mind that Len Wein could stoop so low. But fuck him, is the length and breadth of my thoughts on the man. Years from now I expect one or two of those scabs will apologize for their monumental error and acknowledge that what they did, what DC did, was wrong. Frankly this issue is a large part of my current trouble with comics. I can’t believe there isn’t more outrage. What the hell is wrong with you people?

But TWC, and the site that spawned it, Comic Book Galaxy — they aren’t going anywhere. In recent days I have found myself thinking about totally reinventing CBG, here nearly 12 years after it began. That would make the fourth or fifth iteration, I think, and it would have to be very 21st century, streamlined and easy to use. As it exists it’s a huge pain in my ass, with technical issues that keep me up at night gritting my teeth in frustration. I want it to continue in some way, and would like it to even be relevant again. But it’s going to take some time, some thinking, and some way to get past my trouble with comics.

— Alan David Doane


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