Editorial – 20 things wrong with comics

November 13th, 2008 by

Writing reviews is hard.  It requires I read the comic, formulate an opinion everyone can disagree with, write it out in a coherent plot summary/commentary, find a cover image, link it, proof read it…ugh.  So instead, since I’ve got time to waste while waiting for the dryer to finish so I can go to bed, I thought I’d just bitch a bit.  Hope you don’t mind.  So, I present to you…

THE TOP 20 THINGS (off the top of my head in no particular order) WRONG WITH COMICS TODAY

1. Price – $2.99 or more an issue!?!  In today’s economy?  Puh-leeeze

2. Continuity – or the lack thereof.  It is possible to tell a good story while still acknowledging the work of those that came before you.  Make your editors do some work, people.

3. The term “fanboy” – it conjures images of Rob Liefeld for some reason.  Ick.

4. Reviewers that rely on plot description and spoilers rather than a true commentary on the merits of the issue – you just wrote a book report, not a review.

5. Wizard Magazine – Everything I hate about the term “fanboy” is epitomized in Wizard.

6. Covers – Wether it be variants, pinups, covers that have nothing to do with the interior story, or a cover done by someone other than the interior artist.

7. The portrayal of Gays, Women, and Minorities – they’re either usually underrepresented or blatantly mischaracterized.  Likewise, they should not be coddled in fear of backlash.

8. Event Comics – You know, Secret Crisis or Infinite Invasion and all their tie ins.  I’m not opposed to them, but let’s make them less frequent and more meaningful.  Half the year the entire line of comics is devoted to the event, the other half is building up to the next event.

9. Rock Star Creators – these are the BIG NAMES brought in from outside of the industry to boost sales and awareness.  Great idea, but they have a career outside of comics and frankly, comics rank pretty low on their to-do list.  The result is often an ignorance of continuity, a callousness with the characters, and an erratic schedule.

10. Free Comic Book Day – specifically, the publishers that make their retailers pay to carry the books they’ll be giving away.  It’s a great event aimed at increasing the overall market – cut your struggling retailers some slack, will ya?

11.  Free Comic Book Day (part deux) – specifically, retailers that put their leftover free comic book day issues in their back issue bins and sell them for anywhere from a quarter to a dollar.  I’ve actually seen this at conventions.  C’mon, if you have leftovers, donate them to a school or something.

12. Writing for the trade – I know the trade paperback industry is booming, but not every story fits perfectly in a six-issue arc.  Often the stories are inflated – or condensed – to neatly fit this packaging.

13. Ads – A necessary evil, but don’t put a two page centerfold for Toyota or Levis in the middle of the book.  Talk about a disruption of the story.

14. Comics for mature readers – If you’re Marvel, this just means adding some swear words.  If you’re Vertigo, it’s swears and boobies.  If you’re anyone else, it’s swears, boobies, and amping up the blood and violence.  What happened to actually telling mature storylines?  (to be fair, Vertigo is heads and shoulders above the rest in this regard.)

15. Spider-Man, Wolverine, Batman, Superman – and the need to put these characters in every comic book the publisher puts out.  It’s no fun to see Woverine in outer space or Mary Jane in peril in one comic when he’s slumming with the Avengers or she’s having tea with Aunt May in another.  It takes away any dramatic impact either story might have.

16. The unrealistic body image expectations given by super heroes – there’s a part of me that will always be sad that I don’t look good in spandex.  Or in a Wonder Woman costume.

17. Image Comics – Sure, they put out good stuff from time to time, but they’re still keeping Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefield from finding a job that, y’know, they might actually be good at.

18. Sales – why does the frivilous and mundane skyrocket to the top of the sales charts while some of the most provocative and dramatic languish at the bottom?

19. Alternate Universes – by telling an “imaginary story,” “alternate timeline,” or “out-of-continuity” story, it implies that there’s something wrong with the current (canon) storyline; that you can’t tell a good story while keeping with the established history.  Find a way to tell your story that uses continuity, or create new characters.

20. The addictive quality of comics – and why the hell can’t I stop?????

Whew!  I wasn’t sure I could come up with 20.  It was fun – and therapeutic?  Next time I’ll come up with a list of things that are good about comics.  Meanwhile, what do you think?  Anything I missed?  Anything you disagree with?  Can I get an “Amen Brother?”

8 Responses to “Editorial – 20 things wrong with comics”

  1. Martin Says:

    The main thing you missed — this post doesn’t have an image in it. 😉

    Seriously, I think there’s an interesting argument to be made that many of these problems with comics all stem from #15. Alternate Universes, for example, wouldn’t exist, if someone had written an entirely new character, instead of the 2nd iteration of superman. Likewise, it’s possible continuity wouldn’t be as much of an issue if there weren’t 15 versions of Superman to keep straight. If all those rock star writers (#9) could write their own stories instead of take up the mantle of some dumb ass comic that’s been going since the 60s, I know I’d be more apt to read them. Then again, I’m pretty biased against all the big name superhero titles. I just don’t think they’re very creative.

  2. florence Says:

    Amen, brother!
    Your post just made me laugh after a long, shifty day at work. So glad I have tomorrow off!

  3. Susie Says:

    I am so with you on the event comics. Sometimes there good, but they just happen so often!. I have event fatigue, and I have even read any for two years! And the ads, so invaisive!

  4. Jason Says:

    I look forward to your list of twenty things good about comics. I wonder how many of them will be the same as your bad things list. 😉

  5. Michael Says:

    Edited to add an image. Just to make Marty happy. And cuz Charlie Brown reminds me of him. And cuz nothing exemplifies angst quite like Charlie Brown.

  6. Donny Says:

    Amen brother! All of these were pretty spot on. #2 on your list, is basically why i cut down my pull list in the first place. Take that, Marvel!

  7. jason Says:

    Hey, Mike! Where’s your list of twenty good things?!

  8. Michael Says:

    I’m still trying to come up with 20 good things.