Martha Thomases: Cutting The Cord
What did I do? Cure cancer? End hunger? Stop global warming? Hell, no.
I stopped buying new comics that I didn’t want.
In any other commercial business, this would seem like a simple thing to do. If I buy a lipstick and decide I don’t like the way it wears, I don’t feel like I have to buy that same lipstick over and over again. If I get food poisoning from a restaurant, I don’t feel like I owe them a return visit. But, for some reason, once I started reading a comic, I used to feel like feel like I had to read all of them.
This isn’t just my problem. Every time a publisher announces a big crossover, fans complain that the company is doing this to force readers to buy books they don’t want. It’s as if Dan DiDio is standing there with a pitchfork, stabbing people in the butt when they miss a chapter.
He’s not. Your butt is safe.
Why did it take me so long? I think it’s part of the nature of comics, especially as they have become more serialized. A self-contained story is just that. You read it, and it comes to a conclusion. However, if there is a cliffhanger, or even just a loose thread of subplot, you don’t have that sense of finality. It’s normal to want to know what happens next.
This is how Charles Dickens became a rock star, with people anxiously waiting on the piers as the boats containing the newest chapters of his novels arrived on the market. This is how movie serials brought people back, week after week, no matter what the main feature was. And this is how soap operas sold soap for decades before middle class women went into the workforce and couldn’t keep up.
We, as a species, like long and complicated stories. We develop affection for our favorite characters.
What’s happened to me, at least, is that I’ve realized that my perceptions about what makes characters my favorites are not the same as those of the people publishing them.
For example, I liked the Wonder Girl John Byrne created. She was quite different from Donna Troy, younger, not so angst-y. Her costume was pretty much stuff she pulled out of her closet, a sports bra and shorts. She was a kid, not yet obsessed with boys. She was the super-heroine I would have been at her age.
Now, she’s not. Now she’s the daughter of a god. She’s angry all the time. She worries that Robin or Superboy doesn’t like her, or will get too close, or some other crap.
Don’t even start me about Starfire.
So I’m probably not going to read the new series when it reboots. Not to make a statement or a threat. I doubt my single copy makes much of a difference to anyone’s bottom line. I stopped reading all the peripheral Green Lantern books, and they seem to be plugging along just fine. I hope that the people who like them continue to get pleasure from them, because pleasure is good, and that the writer, artists and other talents continue to get paid.
Me, I now have extra free time in my comics-reading schedule. I’ve been trying new books, and found a few that I like. I believe I’ve raved about Sex Criminals before. Southern Bastards is also good fun. I wish there was more Resident Alien.
When they reboot Wonder Girl again, I’ll check out the book and see how she’s doing.