The Roller Coaster Climbs
It’s crazy to see how popular comic culture has gotten in the past ten, eleven years. That’s not a long time. Even then, people who read comics books couldn’t be as loud and proud as they are today without being looked at as the black sheep of society. Yes, comic book movies have helped in a way to normalize the medium in the past decade but comics are currently reaching out to different demographics with each passing month. I love comics and I genuinely love seeing other people stay *or* grow passionate about them.
Reading comics doesn’t mean reading only superheroes anymore. I love my capes and indies equally. Put every topic you can think of on a big-ass board, close your eyes and toss a pebble. Doesn’t matter what you hit, there’s 110% a comic for that. There are books about vampires who run BBQ joints, sex astronauts, superhero reality TV stars and whatever else you can think of.
We’ve hit another comic book Golden Age. Comics aren’t dying. I refuse to believe that. They’re only getting stronger. Creativity is booming, new readers are joining the medium and there are enough books out there to see all of us through to the end of eternity.
Preparing to Drop
What blows my mind is that there are entire Instagram and Twitter communities for comic books. The Twitter one, I knew about. But “comicbookstagram” was undiscovered territory for me. It’s been around for years but I only just found out about it less than a year ago. You start an account and you meet long-time and new fans of comics. A lot of the people that followed me on my first week are still here, too. You also learn a thing or two from others, which is great.
When you get knee deep in comicbookstagram, there’s so much going on. Passion, rants, discussions, nerdy debates and my least favorite… hype. Hot books are coming out every week now. Was it always like this?? I don’t remember a new bestseller dropping every week in previous years. It gets to the point where you’re hearing a lot of “you gotta read this” or “this is the best book I’ve ever read.” I know I’m guilty of doing it. Comes with the IG territory. Let’s call that, I don’t know… the “You-should factor”. The “You-should factor” might have good intentions at first but it just makes me feel like I’m forced to do something that boils down to being inauthentic. Hype does build excitement but it also plants a seed in your brain that you might be missing out.
Suddenly a high-pitched voice calls from the back of the room. “But isn’t social media more about vanity than authenticity?” they ask. I respond, shocked by the interruption, “Well, yeah… but it doesn’t have to be. I mean, IG does enable some bad behaviors that would be borderline sociopathic in real life. Doesn’t mean you have to be egotistical and spiteful just because you’re not face to face with a person— WAIT, NO STOP! I’m not d—”
(And that was when two burly security guards carried me off the stage of a TED Talk about getting eight hours of sleep that I had aimlessly wandered into not even five minutes ago.)
The Drop (but, like, for real)
On the other hand, there are times when I buy comics and I feel like a fraud. I don’t like buying books that I’m not interested in just for the hype. Forget about that bandwagon shit. Takes the passion out of it. Also I’m not a speculator. Chances are if I walk into your shop, there are going to be plenty of issues of [*insert hot new comic title here*] left when I leave. A question I’ve been asking myself recently is whether I’m buying a comic to read it or because of hype?
I’m under the opinion that if you buy comics *only* to post them for likes, you’re in this for the wrong reason. For instance, when a new comic book movie gets announced, I’m not going to rush out to hunt the first issue just so I can post it and say “Look, it me.” You don’t need to be buying every book that comes out, you don’t need to know as much as the other person, you’re not missing out if you don’t get a “hot” book. Wait for the trade or skip the book altogether if you aren’t interested. One person’s tastes might not match your own. That fear of missing out is just a total lie. Worst case is you miss out for five minutes and shit moves on.
My intention on IG was just to share comics with other people. Didn’t even expect to get five people to follow me when I started, much less meet all the interesting people I’ve met in the span of less than a year. I’m not doing this for likes or ego. (That sounds like such an asshole thing to say, too. Like I want a medal or something.) The intention is still the same, except now my pictures don’t look like they were taken in a dingy shed with a flickering light-bulb as some rotting mutant creature heaves in the corner in a fetal position. 90% of that is better lighting (¯\_(ツ)_/¯).
I think I actually post 15% of the comics I read. That’s just a number I pulled out of my ass, by the way. That said, I don’t post everything I read. At some point I wonder when or if it becomes an ego thing. If I start doing this out of ego, it’s probably my time to take a bow. That’s not why I started my page. Still, every now and then it does feel like I’m doing this for the wrong reasons. At what point does it go from “Here’s something cool I’m reading” to “Here’s a book I bought because I think it might blow up”? It bums me out when an interest in comics becomes all about likes and follows. Then there’s “influencers”… ugh. No, really — the word “influencer” makes me want to vomit my guts out, slip on said guts and crack my head open --especially when people refer to themselves as one.
Putting Your Eyeballs Back In Your Head
You know the ending of Burn After Reading when the CIA guys are asking what the fuck the whole movie was about anyway? That’s where I’m at. “Fuck if I know,” as J.K. Simmons said in the movie. This write-up, in essence, is Burn After Reading. It’s not. I’m just trying to end this. Like when you want to leave but the other person won’t shut the fuck up. So you have to smile, nod and sit there and take it like a good Samaritan… (cough cough sniffles).
It’s just that you’re in comics because you’re genuinely into it. Or…you’re doing it because it’s a thing that a lot of people are into and you want the attention. There’s passion and there’s ego. In the case of the second one, “Your mother was a hamster and your father smells of elderberries.” The point, I guess, is that I don’t want it to turn to ego for me.
When I say “you” it’s not directed at anyone. My brain is just in second-person mode. This is pretty much a monologue. Should’ve placed this note earlier…but it’s too late for that. Gotta keep trucking. That’s showbiz, baby!