DENNIS O’NEIL: The Weight of Fall
It’s the time of year when the world holds its breath. Back from vacation and if you’re old enough and lucky enough to be employed, fill the tank, Monday morning will be here before you know it, and if you’re going to school, either to sit in rows among the other students or to stand and teach… well, there are supplies to get – how late is Staples open? – and maybe some last minute reading and – one, two, three, all of us cop to it now – the anticipation: will the subjects be interesting, will the room’s other occupants be pleasant and/or pretty or trolls, will something that spins existence on its axis occur and change life forever and if you’re a lady who’s just retired after schoolmarming in four states for fifty years will you feel a tad blue – not that I know anyone like that – and, finally, will the English teacher get really frosted at having to read sentences that go on and on and on and on…?
No gold star for me? I’ll live with it.
If you’re a comics geek – and yes, we do know who we are – you may be feeling a bit disoriented. Not long ago, the days that cluster around the September holiday marked the end of major fan activity. The big conventions were history, the summer annuals lie all snug in their Mylar nests, the big publishers seemed to take a breather between those annuals and the big Christmas push to fill stockings with graphic novels, preferably in hardcover. Oh sure, all the regular titles appeared, but they were just … you know… stories. Nothing special. This year, though, there are several conventions yet to come, including the monster-doozie that occurs at the Javits Center in Manhattan, Marvel and DC are going digital, which will almost certainly change the biz, maybe a lot, and – what am I forgetting…?
Oh yeah. DC Comics is relaunching its whole line. Relaunching its superhero pantheon when print publishing is struggling to survive and reinvent itself in what may be the most turbulent climate since Gutenberg set his first stick of type: an important bookstore chain that according to one estimate accounts for maybe fifteen percent of retail sales is closing its many doors and an online retailer is altering the way business is done and nobody seems to know what the hell the e-book revolution will spawn.
All that is figure resting on the ground of a legislative system that seems hopelessly broken and huge environmental uncertainties that might affect publishing and everything else.
Plus…is the Mayans who say the world will end next year? Or am I thinking of that television preacher?
Yessir, Mr. D, the times they are a’changin’.
Ask me if I care. In about six weeks, the Rockland County foliage will begin its yearly display and, for a while, the daily trip to the mailbox will be reason for rejoicing. That will be enough now, and maybe forever.
Recommended Reading: The Will Eisner Companion, by N.C. Christopher Couch and Stephen Weiner. Disclosure: I contributed an essay to this book, but I’m not in the way of any royalties. If you know Eisner’s work, you’ll want to read it, and if you don’t…hey, it’s about time.
FRIDAY: Martha Thomases