Author: Martha Thomases

Martha Thomases: Well, We Do Need Those Stinkin’ Badges, So…

The DisciplineReedPOP has done it again. They messed up the Emerald City Comicon. It’s not permanent damage (at least, I hope not), and they’ve taken steps to fix things, but I suspect that they still don’t entirely understand what happened.

I don’t know anyone at ReedPOP, nor do I have a source who clues me in on their inner workings. Everything I say is speculation, nothing more.

Last week saw the release of the first issue of The Discipline from Image Comics by writer Peter Milligan and artist Leandro Fernandez. I have loved Peter Milligan for more than 20 years, and eagerly bought the issue. I’ve read it, don’t entirely understand what’s going on, and look forward to more story.

Image is holding its Expo, formerly a free-standing event, at Emerald City this year. As a result there will be a lot of Image creative talent at the show, and I imagine a fair amount of cross-promotion. One of the elements of this marketing concept is to put Image art on the badges for attendees.

And that’s where the problem began. The Sunday badge sports the cover image from The Discipline #1, a woman in shadow, her blouse being opened by a monster’s hand. If you read the actual comic, you’ll see that this is a complicated situation, unsettling but consensual. On the badge, with no other context, it just looks creepy and rape-y.

Social media blew up, and many women said they found the artwork offensive, even triggering. As a comic book cover, they have the option to walk away and read something else. As a badge to get into a convention they already paid for, the choice is to throw away the admission price or suck it up.

ReedPOP admitted they had a problem and offered a solution. To quote from the link, “We would like to extend the offer to all Fans who are concerned that they may exchange their Badge on Sunday at Will Call for a different Badge that does not feature that art.”

I’m not sure I like this solution. It means that, if I have on the replacement badge, I’ve identified myself as a person who was abused, or a feminist, or some other political position that I might not want to discuss on a day when I just want to look at comic books, meet creators and other fans, and maybe dress up like my favorite super heroine.

Who am I kidding? I’m always delighted to be identified as a feminist. Still, I would like it to be my choice, not ReedPOP’s.

This could be chalked up to a simple misstep if ReedPOP hadn’t made almost the exact same mistake two years ago. And they responded in almost exactly the same way.

It’s not as if ReedPOP isn’t trying. They have an excellent anti-harassment policy that demands respect and consideration for everyone. Even better, that sentiment is echoed in the convention’s general rules. Both of these documents demonstrate an understanding of what fans want and need in their convention experience.

And it’s also interesting to see how far ReedPOP goes to show their customers they get it. This article illustrates how they are bending over backwards to celebrate cosplay and cosplayers on their own terms.

So what can we do about the badge business?

I don’t think they do these things maliciously. To paraphrase Chris Rock, this isn’t Boko Haram sexism, it’s sorority sexism. It’s an attitude that is so entrenched in our society that, unless it affects you directly, you might not notice.

Therefore, the solution, it seems to me, is to collect people who will notice. Form a committee and, before finalizing these kinds of decisions, run it by them. I’m not saying that victims of sexism (and racism and ableism and homophobia and xenophobia and holy crap we have swallowed a lot of hate in our society) should have a veto over creative content. Instead, I’m suggesting that they might notice a message ReedPOP doesn’t intend to send before it is sent. The committee would not act as censors who ban things, but as copy editors who improve clarity.

Yeah, you heard me. I’m saying that Fowler and Strunk & White are important tools for radicals.

And marketing geniuses.

And allies.

Martha Thomases: Salaam Reads

Salaam Reads

It’s been brought to my attention that I can be something of a downer in these columns. Therefore, I am thrilled and delighted to be able to report on some good news this week.

Book sales are up. In bookstores.

Just a few years ago, the debut of e-books and the success of Amazon were supposed to doom the book business, especially at the retail level. That hasn’t happened, and, in fact, e-book sales have leveled off.

Personally, I’ve never considered e-books to be either morally superior or inferior to hard copy books. I like to read, and I’ve liked to read in every format I’ve come across. I love my Kindle because it’s easy to take an entire library with me when I travel, and because I like lots of pop fiction that I don’t need to display on my bookshelves. I love physical books, too, especially if they are signed, or if they have lots of illustrations. I have some of the storybooks my mother read when she was a girl. I doubt my grandchildren will want to access my (then outdated) Kindle menu.

It may be that book sales are up because all the poorly run bookstores went out of business, leaving only the ones who know how to sell books. It may be that, recently, there have been more books published that customers want to own.

Or it may be that the people who market books know how to reach out to new book buyers in a way that suggests how we can further expand the audience for comics.

To be clear, graphic novels remain a growth sector in the book business. However, the very fact that booksellers embraced a new product category like graphic novels early in this century shows how open the business is to new ideas.

Here’s another way that the book business is nimble: They welcome customers who might be turned away elsewhere, especially in today’s political climate. Simon & Schuster just backed a line of children’s books about being Muslim because one of their editors noticed she had nothing to read to her nieces and nephews that reflected their experience. I’m a Jewish adult, and I want to read all the books described in the link. I wish I’d been able to read them as a child.

The book business is different from the comic book business because it does not rely on its customers to return every week for new product. There are some rabid fan groups (such as those who read four or five romance novels a week), but there are not, to my knowledge, any bookstores dedicated to romance fiction. I do know that there are certain specialties (for example: mystery, science fiction, travel, cooking) but none rely on customers who must have first printings, or mint condition. These stores exist for the reader, not the collector.

Obviously, antiquarian bookstores are different.

In the last decade or so, we’ve seen more comic book stores that resemble bookstores, even as more bookstores stock graphic novels. We can get more stories in more places in more formats.

Life is good.

Martha Thomases: Leap of Faith

Sadie Hawkins Day

Monday is Leap Year Day, an otherwise insignificant marker of the passage of time except that our calendar is weird. Because time, its measurements and our perception of it have always fascinated me, I am enthralled by the way we react to this “extra” day.

As we established a few weeks ago, I’m old. I’m so old that, when I was a kid, there was no feminist movement – at least not one that extended to Youngstown, Ohio. So I learned that girls didn’t ask boys out on dates, or propose, or do anything but wait to be noticed. The ideal woman, I was told, was beautiful, thin, blonde, busty, demure, sexy and, perhaps most of all, quiet and undemanding.

The only exception was on Leap Year Day. On the day, girls could propose marriage.

(By the way, for a look at these ideas that show how completely screwed up they are, you can’t beat the movie musical Li’l Abner, based on the Broadway show that was based on the Al Capp newspaper strip. Really, the family relationships and social contracts portrayed in it are completely fucked up, but as a film, I have fun every time I see it.)

In any case, this thinking, which assumes that our only function as women is to love a man and have “his” children, is, thankfully, a dying remnant of a doomed mindset. Still, I hate to lose a perfectly good holiday, especially one that gives me “special rights” (i.e. I get to do the same things that straight white men expect to be able to do every single day).

Especially for women in comics.

Here are a few things I suggest we all do on Monday.

  • Go to our local comic book store, the one with the semi-nude brokeback posed statues in the window, and question to sincerity of the guys looking through the books. Ask them how long they’ve been reading comics, or if they just come to the store to meet girls.
  • Grab the ass of male con-goers dressed as their favorite superhero. When they complain, ask them what they expected if they walk around like that.
  • Organize a “Men in Comics” panel for the local comic convention. Put only one man on it, the husband of an established female creator. Explain that you couldn’t have any more than that because you asked Scott Snyder to come, but he was busy.
  • After the convention shuts down for the day, go to the bar at the host hotel and explain that the male creator of that hot new book only got the job because he slept with the editor. And the new artist on the best-selling series was only hired because the publisher has to be “politically correct.”
  • Relax and read a comic book where the main character looks like you, shares your assumptions about reality and generally makes you feel like you are an active player in the universe. Since that could actually happen, please make your suggestions in the comments.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to propose to Tom Hiddleston.

Martha Thomases: Comic Books, Toys and Little Girls

E-Z Bake OvenAs a rule, I don’t look to celebrities for advice or insight about anything except celebrity. Actors know acting, musicians know music, authors know how to write, but these talents don’t mean they know politics or finance or relationships. There are exceptions (e. g. George Clooney is smart about Darfur, Martin Sheen knows his pacifism), but, in general, I seek my expertise from experts.

So I was more than a bit surprised when Ryan Reynolds said something smart about marketing. His new movie, Deadpool (which I haven’t seen yet but I will, I promise) set a record by earning $135 million on its opening weekend, the highest ever for an R-rated film.

It earned that much money by attracting both men and women to theaters. Cue the proponents of the conventional wisdom, who insist that women don’t like superheroes. As Reynolds said, “It’s sort of like… well, no. Women love fucking superhero movies! Clearly they go to these movies. It’s sort of funny that the studios are sometimes the last to know that.”

Ryan Reynolds, at least, gets it. Maybe he’s interested in the movie business and not just movie acting, so he pays attention. Maybe he wants to have a career with some longevity, so he pays attention to his audience as well as his opportunities. Maybe having a daughter has shown him how unique each human personality will be.

And, yes, the studios are the last to know. The only people who might also be just as ignorant are the Big Two comic book publishers and toy manufacturers.

Why is it so important to so many of our popular culture institutions to divide our entertainment choices into those for men or for women? The assumption that boys won’t like things that girls like, an assumption that ruled my childhood, has been demonstrated to be (generally) false. Girls will play with Legos that are not pink. Boys will play with E-Z Bake Ovens.

Neither will get cooties.

I think they are afraid that gender is contagious. One of my favorite writers, Nora Ephron, described this mind-set decades ago, in her hilarious essay “A Few Words About Breasts.” To quote:

“In grammar school, in the fifth and sixth grades, we were all tyrannized by a rigid set of rules that supposedly determined whether we were boys or girls… We learned that the way you sat, crossed your legs, held a cigarette, and looked at your nails-the way you did these things instinctively was absolute proof of your sex… I thought that just one slip, just one incorrect cross of my legs or flick of an imaginary cigarette ash would turn me from whatever I was into the other thing; that would be all it took, really. Even though I was outwardly a girl and had many of the trappings generally associated with girldom – a girl’s name, for example, and dresses, my own telephone, an autograph book – I spent the early years of my adolescence absolutely certain that I might at any point gum it up.”

We know, of course, that’s not how gender identity works, of course (the essay is from 1972, referencing events that took place several decades earlier). And yet it seems as if movie companies, comic book publishers and toy companies would rather leave money on the table than adjust their views about gender roles.

It’s enough to make a person question capitalism.

Martha Thomases: Jughead’s Sex Life

Jughead Asexual 1This column is going to make me sound old.  Really really really old.

In the new issue of Jughead by Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson, Jughead comes out as asexual.  As I write this, it hasn’t yet appeared on the stands, but I’ve loved the series so far and I’m really looking forward to it.  Still, the news sent me on a tour of the Internet to exciting new avenues of political correctness.

(Note:  I want to be politically correct here.  I am trying to understand people who are new to me, and I want to be polite and respectful.)

The first thing I found out is that this isn’t even really news. had the story way back on September 25.  My first reaction was surprise that this didn’t show up on any of my feeds at that time.  My second reaction was admiration for Archie’s publicist for getting two hits with the story.

The next thing I learned is that I didn’t really understand what asexual meant.  I thought it just meant a person who wasn’t interested in sex.  I was wrong.  If you read the link (and it’s fascinating), you’ll see that identifying as asexual is much more complicated than my initial assumption.

As most things are.

Jughead Asexual 2Living life and meeting people is the easiest and most fun way to have one’s assumptions challenged. When I was a kid, society told me that homosexuality was a perversion indulged in by people who were too immature to form meaningful relationships.  I learned differently when I met actual gay and lesbian people.  Society told me that sex was only for reproduction, and that it was something only men liked, something that good girls only did so they could have babies.  I learned differently when my own hormones kicked in, and feminism became a thing.  Society told me that transgender people had extreme cases of body dysmorphia.  This is a case where society not only told me the wrong thing, but actual science has made it possible for there to be emotionally healthy alternatives to “just learning to live with it.”

And just in researching this column, I found out about skoliosexuals, about whom I was completely ignorant.  I look forward to maybe meeting some and having even more of my assumptions shattered.

At the same these changes in social attitudes happened, comic books grew up.  My childhood was filled with stories about Lois Lane wanting Superman to give her a “super-kiss.” Characters might wear revealing costumes, but they were all chaste.  It wasn’t until underground comix, and then the direct market, that a mass market saw comic book characters who had adult relationships with adults.

(Note:  Yes, it is my opinion that an awful lot of comic books are still smarmy and giggly about sex.  So are most humans.  Alas.)

This week, we’re seeing a comic book character who is shocking because of his lack of interest in sex.  He is being written (I think, based on the few pages I’ve seen) respectfully, as a character, not a caricature like Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory.

(Is Sheldon supposed to be asexual?  Or is he supposed to just be really repressed?  Or don’t the writers even think about such things when all they want is a laugh?)

As an old person, I find myself looking at Jughead indulgently, thinking that as a teenager, his sexuality is probably at its most fluid, and that he might just be going through a stage.

And then I realize what I sound like, and try to shut up.

Martha Thomases: Fire and Anger

AIrboyIt’s high political season again, which is catnip to people like me and my fellow ComicMixers. Our meetings would take only half as long as they do if we could skip the ranting and just get down to business.

This year is unusual in the level of anger we see in the electorate. Of course we have seen anger before. I, myself, would occasionally chant “Hey! Hey! LBJ!/ How many kids did you kill today!” In recent memory, the current version of the Tea Party began in rage and paranoia, with lots of murmurs about “secret” Muslims.

This cycle, however, it seems to me to be more. Lots more. Maybe I look at the wrong media, but there is so much fire on all sides.

I think this anger is related somewhat to the continued calls for diversity in all aspects of our modern life. If you read the link above (and I found it to be quite provocative), you’ll see that a great many middle-class and lower middle-class white voters, especially men, feel as if they aren’t being heard.

To anyone who isn’t a white man, this seems, on its face, to be ludicrous. When one is anything but, every story told seems to be from the perspective of white men. They star in most mass media and even when they aren’t the stars, they are most often the writers and producers and directors. They are the acquiring editors, publishers and authors.

But …

Most of us grew up in a world in which white men were the voices of authority, the guides of the narrative. We accepted that as normal. When it changed, some of us celebrated the increased choices, but some of us felt as if something was taken away. We felt lessened, and we want to “take our country back” or make it great “again.”

I’ve been hearing a version of this argument for at least 40 years. Men who played by the rules of their time, who graduated high school and got good (union) factory jobs could expect to build a home and family, with enough for an occasional vacation and a new car. Their wives would take car of the house and kids, and defer major decisions to the Lord of the Castle.

It seems to me this changed radically in the 1970s, and certainly by the 1980s, anyone graduating from high school with such assumptions wasn’t paying attention. However, the increasing income inequality means that the rules have changed (a college degree doesn’t guarantee anything but student debt), and there are more and more people who feel left behind.

Pop culture can’t fix this by itself, and certainly comics, one small part of pop culture, can’t. However, they can help alienated white men feel like they can understand, and even benefit from experiences different from their own.

As a Jewish woman, I’ve loved books written by devout Christians. As a feminist, I’ve enjoyed books by patriarchal men.

The book I’ve read most recently that gave me insight into the experiences of white middle-class (and lower middle-class) men was Trashed. There is no way I would be able to live a life described in those pages (for one thing, I lack the upper body strength), but reading the book made me feel that I knew what it was like.

In other words, my political perspective doesn’t necessarily inform my entertainment choices, and my entertainment choices don’t necessarily affect my political perspective. Sometimes they do, but often they don’t. I’m a big fan of Chuck Dixon‘s, for example, and we don’t agree on much except we love comics.

It’s okay. We can disagree and still tell each other stories.

Martha Thomases: Comic Books For Everyone!

Silvestri Batman

There was a disturbance in the Force this weekend as DC announced that they were, once again, relaunching their entire line … sort of.

On the one hand, I’m sick of this. It might work as a publicity stunt for a few months, but, in and of itself it doesn’t necessarily attract new readers. On the other hand, what else can they do?

Just a few days before, my pal Val D’Orazio posted some interesting opinions about the comic book market. She looks at distribution and promotion and demographics and all the other elements that have been part of our discussions about comics since at least the 1970s.

In case you’re new to this, let me try to sum it up (which will, by necessity, over-simplify things). The emergence of the direct market allowed comics to go from a mass medium to a more sharply focused (and therefore, more profitable) business. There were risks (for example, speculation) but there were benefits (cheaper cost of entry allowed more experimentation). For a glorious few years, all kinds of books were offered from all kinds of new publishers, although Marvel and DC continued to dominate. The market grew to include graphic novels, thus entering the mass market again via bookstores. Recently, digital distribution makes it easier for new demographic segments to inexpensively sample titles without having to go to comic book specialty stores.

Or, to quote Val, “In particular, there is going to be a big market for diverse, relevant, young adult serialized content; that is where a lot of the best “new ideas” in comics will be coming from, the sorts of ideas that get optioned for movies and TV.”

Please note: When she says “young adult,” she is referring to that segment of the book publishing business that includes Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Divergent and the like. It’s a marketing term, not a judgment call. In other words, what is currently one of the most profitable areas.

How does the current publishing model fit with future? Not very well.

I love going to the comic book store on Wednesday. Really. Even in the snow. I like to pick up a pile of overpriced (in terms of cost per minute of entertainment) paper pamphlets and read them over lunch, or over an afternoon. However, I’m someone who has been doing this for nearly 60 years. I’m certainly not the cool, young market that advertisers and publishers want.

And even though I’ve been reading comics for such a long time, I have trouble keeping continuity together. If I was a young person today, I would find the whole thing to convoluted to bother.

DC seems to think the solution is to start from scratch so everyone has a chance to get in on the ground floor. I get it. The New 52 worked pretty well for them, at least commercially.

Unfortunately, they seem to miss what I consider to be the point: they bog down their new continuity with old continuity. And they seem to think that on talent that might be well known within the comics industry will be a selling point to new readers from outside the market.

I like Scott Snyder’s writing very much, and those Marc Silvestri pages are gorgeous. I don’t mean to say those men are not talented, but that they are not known to people who don’t already read comics.

At the same time, a lot of current readers are turned off to buying current comics book series because they don’t like stories that are “written for the trade,” that is, stories that are planned for collections, not for individual issues. This is understandable. If one spends three or four dollars (or more) on a comic book, one would like to get a story.

And a lot of people who like comic book characters (like the Flash, or Agent Carter, or Lucifer, or Batman or the Avengers or Your Favorite Here) are intimidated by comic book stores. All they know is what they see on The Simpsons or The Big Bang Theory. They might enjoy comics, but they need a safe way to sample them.

Even though I’m not a huge fan of reading comics online (I think I’ll like it better if I get the bigger iPad), I think the Interwebs offer a solution. A lot of the expense of publishing comics comes from buying paper, printing, and shipping. By promoting and publishing all kinds of comics online, publishers can attract new readers more inexpensively than with paper, and save hard-copy publishing for the more popular titles.

For example, I’m an old fart who would very much enjoy reading the occasional adventures of the Legion of Super-Pets and their romps through space. I would also like more “realistic” stories, like the procedurals in Gotham Central and Resident Alien. I’d gladly pay a few bucks for the chance, especially if, as Val suggests, there is some kind of Netflix like structure that lets me binge at will.

I haven’t figured out the economics yet, but everyone involved should get paid at least a living wage – not just the creative talent but editors, lawyers, and so on.

If you want to see comics that feature people of color, or queer people, or more women, there can be comics for you. If you want to see the (mostly) all-white comics of the past, there can be comics for you.

Just as having more channels on television has brought more good shows, having more channels for comics should bring more good comics.

Martha Thomases: Social Justice Warriors?

Schomburg CenterThis week, I want to write about something I didn’t do.

It’s a good thing. Rally. Trust me.

Last Friday I read this item in The New York Times about a black comic book festival to be held on Saturday at the Schomburg Center in Harlem. Since I aspire to experience new things (and because, especially in winter, I have a tendency towards lethargy), I decided I would go.

The next morning, after I did my errands, and ascertaining that the predicted rain was not going to happen, I went online to find out which subway to take, and what stop to get off. Alas, the website informed me that the event was sold out. Since this was a good excuse to take my pants off, I didn’t try to go anyway.

According to everything I read, it was a huge success. There were loads of people, including lots of kids and other new readers, and everyone had a fabulous time.

More important (at least to me), African American comic book writers and artists got to talk directly to fans about the kinds of comics they wanted to make and the kinds of comics they wanted to read. They talked about social justice and equal opportunities and creating community and all the other stuff that mattered to them as artists and as citizens and as readers.

These are the kinds of conventions I’ve always liked. They are small enough so that, as Miss Manners would say, “The roof is your introduction.” Because this gathering had a theme, it’s natural that all concerned would happily indulge in conversations about that topic.

Faith 1.inddI thought of this when I read this review of a new Valiant title, Faith. To quote from the lead, “Today’s comic book industry has problems. Not just editorial and creative problems but also problems from the pressures of Social Justice Warriors. These types of people make our lives miserable as comic fans. Always crying out for more diversity this and more diversity that. Most of the time you’ll discover these people don’t even read the comics they are clamoring for change to occur in. That’s always been the real pain in the ass for diversity in comics.”

I don’t know who these “Social Justice Warriors” are, nor does the reviewer cite anyone. Therefore, it is impossible to tell if they do not, in fact, buy the books for which they “clamor.” Are there not enough books aimed at the straight white cis male audience? Are there no media that will cater to his tastes? Perhaps he should go to the movies or watch television where the stories of his kind still predominate.

Back when Milestone Comics started, I was very excited to be peripherally involved, because it presented an opportunity for people outside the mainstream to tell their own stories, which I hadn’t read. Later, when I had the chance to sit in the audience for Michael Davis’ Black Panel at SDCC, I was impressed that the message wasn’t that DC or Marvel (or any publisher) owed aspiring African-American creators the right to work on their characters, but that they had their own stories to tell the way they wanted to tell them.

Maybe you don’t want to talk about African-American comic books with African-American comic book creators, or maybe you don’t want to read comics intended to tell those stories, That’s okay. Nobody is going to force you.

Hell, nobody needs you.

They sold out all the available space without you.

Martha Thomases: Selling Death


About 20 years ago, I asked Batman editor Denny O’Neil if I could attend DC’s annual editorial retreat. I was their Publicity Manager at the time and I thought that if I could sit down and watch how the creative teams worked I could better promote the various Batman titles.

Denny was cool with it, and my boss was cool with it, so I went up to Tarrytown NY with them. It was a really interesting experience… for about a day. Then, for some reason, the big boss found out I was there and demanded I return.

His fears, as I understand them, were that, as part of the marketing department, I might interfere with the creative and editorial decisions. That was certainly not my intention. And it was also pretty insulting to Denny, to Alan Grant and Jo Duffy and Chuck Dixon and the others who were there who were more than willing to tell me to shut up if I overstepped my bounds.

Things have certainly changed since then.

Earlier this week, the New York Daily News ran a story by Ethan Sacks about the Marvel editorial summit. In attendance were Joe Quesada, Axel Alonso, James Robinson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Michael Bendis, Emily Shaw, Sana Amanat, Nick Spencer, Sam Humphries, G. Willow Wilson, Dan Slott, Tom Brevoort, Dan Buckley, and probably a whole bunch more.

This is amazing. I can’t think of any other kinds of story meetings that involve the press. Did Matthew Weiner let reporters into the Mad Men writers’ room? Did Jann Wenner send someone to sit in with Lennon and McCartney?

The article did not say if any marketing people were there while they planned the next storylines which will, apparently, involve the death of a major character. According to the piece, this is something that Marvel plans to happen every quarter. Dan Buckley is quoted as saying “The death is a marketing hook,” although he goes on to say that the story has to pay off. Still, it seems pretty damning to me, and indicative of a thought process that seeks out the lowest common denominator.

To my mind, they did this backwards. They decide that some character has to die, and then try to figure out who it should be, and from there, what the story is. I think they should first have a story, see which characters make sense to be part of that story, then see if one of them dies in the course of events. I’m on record saying that I think death is over-used as a plot device. We know the character isn’t really dead. By going to that story-well four times a year, Marvel runs the risk of cheapening the death of heroes. It’s not special. It does not inspire awe for a hero’s self-sacrifice, or tears for the tragedy.

We know the character will come back to life in a few months or years. Hell, if there must be destruction, blow up an entire planet.

A wedding would be more engaging. A birth.

It’s encouraging to see that there were more kinds of people in the room than the usual white men. Some were even women. It is my hope that this is a trend that will continue and grow. That’s how you get new perspectives on the stories, and new ideas. Perhaps if Marvel invites a reporter to the next summit, they’ll permit the women to speak to the press, just like the boys do.

Martha Thomases Is…


It’s a new year with 52 opportunities to find great new comics. There’s a whole slew of comic book properties on various screens, now and scheduled for the near future. The convention calendar is crammed with more and more opportunities to socialize with other fans, and discover cool new fandoms.

I’m exhausted.

Every week, when I sit down to write this column for you, Constant Reader, I try to think of a subject that is dynamic and engaging enough to encourage conversation. What do we, as a group, care about? What do we value? What do we love? Are these different feelings (I’d say yes)?

I’m exhausted.

Every week, there is likely to be a new outrage or injustice that demeans our collective humanity. These issues are important, and should be discussed, ideally with the goal of finding a solution, not just blame.

But I just can’t.

It’s cold here in the Northeast, at least when it’s not unseasonably warm. I never know how to get dressed so that I’m a) comfortable and b) not always removing or adding garments in a heap at my feet.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s the perfect climate for a cozy chair, a mug of something soothing, and a big old stack of books. Or maybe a full DVR and a pile of knitting would better suit the mood (although keep that mug!).

That’s why we’re here, isn’t it? Because we love the graphic story medium and all the entertainment it brings us, whether in the original form or in interpretations by other artists. Because reading something written and drawn by others is the closest we can get to telepathy. Because a good story in any form both transports us to a new universe and, at the same time, gives us a fuller understanding of our own.

There’s a lot to be said for simple enjoyment. I just don’t feel like saying any of it this week.