Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Too Busy Not Thinking About My Comics

Recently, David Brothers commented on the impact quitting comics from the major publishers had on him. Having similarly quit Marvel & DC Comics myself about two years ago, it caused me to reflect on my own decision and what it's meant to me.

In short, it has meant:

#1: Less Blogging

I've never been terrific at regular blogging, but although I have had more free time since I stopped working for Marvel, it hasn't translated into more time spent blogging. With fewer comics entering my house, I've had fewer reasons to blog. Not that this blog has ever had a particular theme - I continue to blog about books, old-time radio, films and my personal life - but comics have been my primary topic and being out-of-touch with Marvel & DC, I don't have anything to say about the majority of the medium.

#2: Avoiding the Comic Book Movies ...Kinda?

Since I made the decision to stop supporting Marvel & DC, I went to see Iron Man 3 (because a friend needed a last-minute substitute for a purchased ticket), Thor: the Dark World & Captain America: the Winter Soldier (both because I had free passes). I did not go to see the Avengers (borrowed a DVD), either Amazing Spider-Man movie (truly didn't want to, either), Man of Steel, the Wolverine or X-Men: Days of Future Past. Also, although television programs don't involve money, I haven't seen Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

How has that been? It's lousy.

For the Avengers & the Wolverine, sticking by my principles meant ducking out of seeing movies with my friends, cheating myself out of a good time. Heck, I really went to see Star Trek: Into Darkness & Godzilla to make up for those missed opportunities with my friends, not because I particularly wanted to see those flicks.

As to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I mention it because one of my friends is watching it and enjoys it. He doesn't know much about comics, but he likes the show; he expected I'd be watching it too (even though I don't watch TV - I have no subscription service) and it's bothered him that he can't talk about it with me. I don't watch Game of Thrones either, but Agents is the show I'm really hounded over. In fact, several times he's accused me of holding out: "You're secretly watching it, aren't you?" No, I repeatedly inform him, I've never seen it. I almost wish I had so I could hold some informed discussions with him (then again, maybe not because the show sounds crummy).

Recently another friend asked if I would go see X-Men: Days of Future Past with him, then recalled I had that self-imposed moral standard. So he'll probably go see it without me; sigh. Taking a stand on principles is all well and good, but I don't like being cut off from my friends. Why'd comic book movies have to attain that mainstream credibility?

(I am currently considering watching Edge of Tomorrow with my friends as a substitute for X-Men. Geez, what will I wind up watching to make up for Guardians of Galaxy, I wonder? Expendables 3?)

#2: I Make Fewer Trips to the Comic Shop

For about my last 18 months with Marvel I received comp packages of everything they published so I had already begun to be weaned from the weekly trip to the comic shop; still, I made regular trips during that time and for many months afterward; maybe three times a month at first... maybe twice per month after.

Currently, I visit the shop about 3-4 times a year. Yikes. Since obtaining an ipad, I've been content to purchase items for my device and save a little coin by waiting for the prices to drop (usually one month after release). Further, to reduce costs I buy my trade paperbacks & most graphic novels through Amazon and my back issues from My Comic Shop.com. Between them, I tend to have comics at my fingertips whenever I feel like it. However...

#3: I Purchase Fewer Comics in General

When I was an every-week comic shop visitor, in addition to my regular books I would often sample other titles, especially new #1 launches, often decided on the spur of the moment in the shop. These impulse-purchases almost never impressed me (as the scads of #1s with no accompanying #2s in my collection will bear witness), yet despite the ease of purchasing, I don't impulse-buy on the ipad. In fact, I tend to hoard my purchases together - some I've been mulling over for 18 months (one of these days, Orc Stain, one of these days).

There are plenty of free comics on the ipad (usually issue #1s) but I almost never take the plunge even at a cost of $0; I follow familiar titles and creators, period. I've stopped taking risks with unfamiliar books (and both my bank account and storage space are grateful).

And yet, there was a time when I took chances on new books like Street Angel or Rex Libris and found new, lifelong favourites (both in series and creators). Not every comic book can be so meaningful, yet I wonder what I might be missing out on right now - and whether I'll be able to catch up on the ipad.

Yet I don't think too much about it because of...

#4: A General Feeling of Ennui

A while ago I blogged about the Crowd, which had been the most-elusive film on a list of pictures I had been trying to see and had taken me many years to get through. Now, the list is done. Similarly, my comic book habit is at a point where I'm mostly at peace with the size of my collection, with only a few older books being of interest. Then there's my old-time radio hobby which, by its nature had only a finite amount of material for me and which I'm realizing more and more has reached its peak; I'm also unwilling to upgrade to the new Xbox and consider my video game habit is going to have to wind down.

Geez; what will I do in my spare time?

Fortunately, there will always be new comic books and movies for me to enjoy, no matter how fussy I am - but there's no longer this vast store of treasures for me to unearth, I've studied both medias to the point where, if it exists, then I've either tried it or decided it's not to my tastes. Heck, it was only in the last decade that I discovered the films of Errol Morris and went through a blissful period of seeing his pictures, plus rediscovering Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo and putting a full collection together. Yet, now the initial deluge is over and I'm limited to experiencing new Morris or Sakai as they come into existence; there is nothing left in the archive for me.

The one medium I haven't exhausted is books; wonderful books! Fortunately, my interests in fiction & non-fiction run deep enough to keep me reading for many years to come - but it's disheartening to find myself with a free evening and to think, "well, what shall I watch?" and realize "nothing, unless I want to rewatch something from my library," or, "hey, why don't I read a comic?" and go, "but there's nothing new I want to buy and I'm not in the mood to reread my collection." Yeah, somehow...

#6: I Don't Reread My Comics Any More

When I was working for Marvel there was no way around it - I had to read comics all the time. It was work. Usually, very pleasurable work (barring that period where it seemed like half of what Marvel published were wretched Deadpool comics). Still, anything which caused me dig back into DeFalco's Spider-Girl, Simonson's Thor, Nicieza's New Warriors or Englehart's Avengers would certainly be pleasant; heck, no matter how pressing my deadlines were, there was no way I'd simply dig the information I needed from an issue of Moench's Master of Kung Fu and move on - heck no! - I'd take a few minutes to enjoy rereading the book.

When I stopped working for Marvel, I no longer had to read comics. Hooray! I turfed everything I owned for research purposes only, reducing myself to just the couple thousand books I truly loved. At the same time, I bought a house where (at last!) my collection could have a room to itself, neatly arranged for me to enjoy at any time. But those comics might as well be behind glass display cases for all the attention I lavish on them; I simply am not reading them, not anymore.

Now that I'm not involved in whatever the Hulk's up to these days, I can't work up the interest to reread Planet Hulk, y'know? And since I'm not witnessing the (certain to exist) continuity errors in Bendis' Guardians of the Galaxy, I don't dig out the Lanning/Abnett issues for the straight dope.

I'm cured! I can pass as normal! Yeah! Now I'm not the guy who thinks about comics all the time! Hooray! ...Instead, it's my friends who want to go see the movies and quiz me about the laws governing who can pick up Thor's hammer and whether Spider-Man was ever an Avenger.



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