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Wednesday, February 23, 2005
100 Things That Actually Sort-Of Annoy Me About Comics
So, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, we begin:
100-Web-based comics. Access to a digital camera, a scanner or Photoshop doesn’t make you a comedic genius.
99-Boxes from Diamond that only have one small item in them.
98-Bad decompressed storytelling. Good decompressed storytelling is a thing of wonder and beauty, but we’re rapidly approaching the point where we may need to have writers pass some kind of test before they’re allowed to use the technique. “Because six issues fit so nicely into a trade paper-back” is not an acceptable reason to use the method.
97-Being asked by a customer whether or not a comic that’s really bad is any good or not. Which should I listen to: my inner critic or my inner merchant?
96-“If comics were only cheaper/printed on lousy paper more people would read them.” No, more people would read comics if more comics were any damn good. Price and paper quality don’t even enter into the equation. In fact the ugly truth of the matter is that the low price point of comics is what’s keeping them out of many venues.
95-Advertising a book with the promise of killing off a character. Because there’s no such thing as bad writers who have run out of ways to increase dramatic tension, just bad characters who aren’t interesting or popular enough to make people care about them.
94-“Kids don’t read comics.” Yes they do. They just don’t want to read the same comics that their grand-parents read.
93-While we’re on the subject, the vast majority of Golden Age comics. They just weren’t that good.
92-Marvel’s reprint policy. It’s feast or famine with them these days. Stuff we could really use doesn’t get reprinted, but stuff they want fans to think is a hot seller gets reprinted over and over again in dozens of different formats, regardless of whether or not there’s any actual demand for it. And saying that you’re going back to press because the book “sold out,” when you only print to order in the first place, is at best disingenuous.
91-Variant covers. They were a neat idea the first time. Now they’re just a way to prop up sales.
89-The very idea of comic book “ages.”
88-The thought that I might have anything whatsoever in common with a member of HEAT.
87-The continuing attempts by comics publishers to duplicate the success of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.
86-Comics publishers that pretend that death in comics is permanent or significant.
85-That comics fans still fall for it every time a marginally popular character is killed.
84-“Batman is considered to be an urban legend.”
83-That English translations of Ralf Koenig comics are hard to come by.
82-That the most posistive portrayal of gay characters in comics is in Japanese books about androgynous little boys.
81-Skip week events.
80-That a serious take on Zorak was actually published outside of fan fiction.
79-Thirty years of lesbian innuendo and “lingerie=evil” in X-Men comics.
78-Being asked when late books are going to ship.
77-Being asked when cancelled books are going to ship.
76-“That” smell. You know the one I’m talking about.
75-Via Mike: When customers who only speak in a mumble get annoyed with you for not understanding what they’re saying.
74-Autobiographical comics. If I wanted to know more about the lives of neurotic people I’d spend more time with my relatives.
73-Customers who call every day asking if we have an item in stock, but never actually come in to buy it.
72-Customers who call in every day asking if we have an item in stock, and when they finally do come in after calling every day for several weeks, get pissed because we sold it to someone else.
70-“Rock of Ages didn’t make any sense.” Always from customers who never seem to have any problems differentiating which alternate timelines various X-Men characters come from.
69-“How much is this baseball card worth?” We don’t deal in baseball cards. “Oh, well how much is this baseball card worth then?”
68-Strangers in Paradise
67-People who think that “comic book store” means “free baby-sitting service.”
66-“Comics were better when I was a kid.” No, they weren’t. You just think they were because you were a kid, and as such, had lousy taste.
65-Having to explain to someone who brought their “really good” comics into the store to try to sell them to us why the condition of a book is important.
64-Having to try to explain why the condition of a book is important over the phone.
63-“Do you have any good ninja comics.” You may think I’m kidding, but honest-to-God, I was just asked this the other day.
62-People who come in looking for tattoo designs. Take it from the guy with ink; if you’re going to have an image permanently scarred into your flesh, you’re going to want it to be something you really want to look at every day for the rest of your life. Strolling around a comic book store in the hopes that you find an image that takes your fancy is a one-way ticket to tattoo remorse.
61-People who claim to be Sam Keith fans who say, once I show them his latest work, “But this doesn’t have Wolverine in it!”
60-Customers who buy supplies and “know what they need,” refusing to let me help them make sure that they’re getting exactly what they want to get and need to get, in light of our “no returns” policy on collector supplies…
59-…Because they invariably return the next day complaining that it’s somehow my fault that they bought magazine boards to use with current comic bags.
58-“But it must be out, I saw it on the internet.”
36-That there is a sizeable segment of the population that will go to see movies about super-heroes, buy super-hero action figures, play video games about super-heroes, wear clothes with pictures of super-heroes on them and get super-hero logos tattooed on their bodies…but won’t be caught dead reading a comic book.
35-That whenever a talented independent comics creator starts to achieve some success you can literally count the seconds until someone accuses them of being a sell-out.
34-Comic fans who really like Kitty Pryde. No, I mean they really like Kitty Pryde.
33-That Chaos Comics ever existed.
32-That Chaos Comics no longer exists.
31-The Black Racer. Proof that even Jack Kirby could have bad ideas from time to time.
30-That the deification of Jack Kirby has resulted in writers and artists trying to make the Black Racer work in a serious context.
29-When you come into the shop with your Hot Topic pants, “indie band of the moment” t-shirt, studded leather wrist-bands, emo glasses and self-consciously “punk” haircut to buy all the acceptably hip indie and art comics that just got reviewed in whatever pretentious scenester music magazine you read…and pay with a credit card. Oh, wait, I’m sorry. This entry should actually go on my “Signs You’re A Poser” list.
28-Hearing the phrase “It’s not as good as the Jim Lee version” in reference to Jim Aparo’s Batman.
27-Customers who feel the need to ask me questions that are asked on a comics cover, such as “Where is the Justice League?” I don’t know, why don’t you try reading the book!
26-Magazines about comics that have a price-guide in them. Especially if it’s a price-guide for CGC graded comics.
25-The overall state of comics “journalism.” So we’ve got Tom Spurgeon and the occasional piece over at IcV2 for good reporting…and about two dozen sites devoted to reprinting publisher press releases and soft-ball interviews with the creators of the comics talked about in those same press releases.
24-Artists still trying to draw like Jack Kirby.
23-That talented artists made the mistake of taking Ayn Rand seriously.
22-Artists who attempt to make super-hero costumes look “realistic” and “practical.” In other words, I don’t need to see all the seams, buttons and fasteners on the costumes.
21-Comic fans who insist on reading dense, multi-layered works as if they are only surface-level, straight forward superhero comics.
20-The mistaken belief that there is some kind of hierarchy of geekdom. That it is somehow acceptable for Star Wars fans to look down on Star Trek fans, for Trekkies to look down on D&D players, for D&D players to look down on comic fans, and for comic fans to look down on furries. Guess what? You’re all nerds. Deal with it.
19-That there are approximately one million different manga titles being published in English about scrappy young boys hoping to become the best fighter, ninja, samurai or card player around, and an equal number of titles about whiny and neurotic teenage girls who inexplicably have the coolest and most handsome boys in school fall in love with them. No wonder people complain about all manga books looking alike.
18-Via Mike Sterling: Fucking crazy comic book fans. Let me explain. The kind of fan who, as a former co-worker once put it, wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to look up and see the Hulk walking down the street.
17-Comic fans who read interviews with Grant Morrison and get upset with what he says, not realizing that he’s being facetious.
16-Comic books that only exist because Alex Ross wanted to paint the covers.
15-Comic creators who claim that they aren’t being racist just before they make a racist statement.
14-Comic creators who get bent out of shape by comic fans who refer to fictional characters by diminutive nick-names.
13-Comic creators who absolutely refuse to permit their work to grow and evolve, and so are continuing to put out the exact same kind of boring, tired and cliché-ridden work that they were churning out twenty years ago.
12-Ah, the hell with it. The John Byrne Forum.
11-Articles in the more sophisticated comic magazines that read as if they were written by an over-eager grad student with a “Dictionary of Pretentious and Obfuscatory Words” handy.
10- Customers who come into the shop with a list of about two hundred back issues they’re looking for, a list that will require at least two of us to go through several dozen boxes of back-issues, and possibly even a trip into the dread “back room of over-stock” to hunt down those comics…on Wednesday morning. Any other day of the week I’d be more than happy to help people track down that many back issues…but not on the day I’m trying to sort through twenty boxes from Diamond. Not on what is usually our busiest day of the week. And what kills me, what absolutely kills me, is that the only people who do this know that Wednesday is new comics day!
9-Comics creators and publishers who leak information on creators and titles to internet gossip columnists, then complain when leaked information about them and their titles appears in internet gossip columns.
8-Comics creators and publishers who dismiss all on-line conversations about comics as “fifteen fat losers who can’t get girl-friends talking to each other with different screen names.”
7-Comics creators and publishers who get upset by what those “fifteen fat losers” say about them. If you don’t think any comics discussion going on on-line is worth taking seriously, why are you taking it seriously?
6-That the vast majority of on-line comics discussion really doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously after all.
5-The gall of “columnists” for internet comics “news” sites complaining that people who write blogs are “unprofessional.” “People who live in glass houses” and all that.
4-This notion that seems to have gotten into some peoples heads that Alan Moore and Grant Morrison hate super-heroes. If you’ve read their work and come away with that impression, might I respectfully suggest that your reading comprehension isn’t as good as you think it is.
3-That the most visible public face of comics is a magazine that drunken frat boys on spring break find sophomoric.
2-When a reporter for the local free weekly (and boy do you get what you pay for in that paper) described the service in the store as “apathetic” in an article, when Mike and I know for damn certain that every time this person came into the store we went out of our way to help them because they were extremely over-sensitive to comics content.
1-People who are so unrelentingly negative that they don’t have anything better to do with their time than make lists of things that annoy them about comics.