Hello there, internet people, it’s your good buddy, RU, here for something a little bit different. Rather than helping you through the minefield of garbage comics I am going to ask why it is that we read garbage books to begin with. Before I begin I want to clarify some points; First, when I am speaking of bad comic books, I will be referencing books I dislike and some that I like; in no way am I passing judgment on those whose opinion on these books differ from mine. I am well aware that “crap” is (mostly) relative and cannot really be quantified. Second, I also know that, nowadays, there is a distinct disconnect between reading comics and buying comics. With the advent of torrents and other piracy tools it is no longer necessary to spend money on comics before reading them. It is unfortunate that we have to differentiate between buying and stealing comics, but it is the world we live in now.
To start, I am not writing this as an attack on a portion of fandom that I am separating myself from. I have and continue to read books that I know are garbage, although I hope that I am reading less crap than I used to, so I know what it’s like to finish a book for the third straight month and wonder “why the f*ck am I still reading this?” without taking the two minutes it would take to delete the book from my DCBS pull list. Why do I do this? I believe that there are three basic, often overlapping, mindsets that drive this choice; habit, completionism, and hope, with morbid curiosity a possible fourth driving force.
Whether it’s an online service, such as DCBS or MOC, or a physical comic book store, the pull list has done a lot to hinder the ability of fanboys to implement any planned action of dropping a book. At the local comic book store, it can be uncomfortable to take the stack of comics the store employee hands you, after taking the time to pick out everything you said you’d be buying this week, and tell them that you are no longer going to be reading a specific book. Part of you feels like you are betraying a trust, that you asked them to do this work for you, often so you can receive some sort of loyal customer discount, and now that work is not good enough for you anymore.
As you stand there, going through your stack, it just seems easier to say “Meh, it’s already here, what’s the harm in giving this book one more shot?” It’s even worse with online stores, since the pull list is updated with books that you won’t even be able to read for months, meaning that, by the time you realize that issue #1 blew chunks, you might have already ordered and paid for up to four more issues of that same series.
By this point, the decision to continue to buy and read a book you don’t like has been made and the simple fact is that this decision was arrived at based on habit. Once habit becomes the primary motivator behind the continuation of a collection, it becomes very difficult to move past it, and it takes (at least it did for me) something outrageously horrid to break the hold habit has on your collection. For me, that was Victor Gischler’s run on X-Men.
Even before Gischler wrote X-Men (2010) #1 I already knew that his writing was not for me. I had suffered through two horrid Deadpool series (more on that later), and now he was tackling a franchise that I had been reading for 23 years straight. Up until the insulting and infuriating X-Men (2010) #6 I had never dropped an X-Book. I survived Austen, Claremont (version 2), and even Fraction, all without giving in to the temptation to drop the book (or freeing myself from it, as I later came to view it). But, once I was able to break the habit of buying any book that was called "X-Men," the flood gates opened and I was able to liberate my pull list from other (not all) flotsam that was sucking my soul dry. Gillan’s Uncanny X-Men was next, followed quickly by other long standing books on my pull list including, but not limited to, Morning Glories, Batman (OldDC), and Jack Of Fables.
Ripping the band-aid off of my habit did more to make me love comics again than any new book ever had. By dropping the crap I was buying, I saved money and was able to explore the market for new books to entice and entertain me, including The L’il Depressed Boy, GI Joe: Real American Hero, Dark Horse Presents, Mind MGMT, and many others. Comic book fans need to stop living in this world where comic book stores and the comic book industry are somehow different from any other industry or retailer. It is the job of the comic book store employee to pull your books if that service is offered. It is their job to allow you to edit your pull list. It is their job to direct you to other books you might like so that they don’t lose a sale. It is not your responsibility to buy books to keep them in business.
That is it for this portion of the discussion, later in the week I'll post the other parts: Completionism, Hope, and Morbid Curiosity. Until then, later peeps.