I was reading Sean Kleefeld’s blog (as usual), and today he told the story of his friend who he recently inspired to get back into comic book reading/collecting. To sum it up (though you should go read it), the friend got turned off by the gimmicky ’90s speculative collector-targeted market, recently came back and began consuming certain series in trade form. One of the trades he bought was Tales of the New Gods, which he barely started reading before deciding he didn’t like it and gave it to Sean.
This provoked me to reply to Sean’s post, because I could draw some parallels to my own history with comic collecting and reading. But that reply turned into a damn essay, so now I’m sharing my thoughts with you fine people.
I was a huge comic fan and collector from the mid ’80s to early ’90s, and fell out of it mainly because of changes in my personal life (AKA entering my late teens and finding coffee shops, sex and rock ‘n’ roll much more interesting), but also because at the time the Image comics effect was in full swing, and my favorite creators (old- and middle-schoolers such as Buscema, Claremont, Byrne and Simonson) began to disappear from my favorite titles (and, indeed, from the “big two” entirely for a while).
Over the next 15 years or so I picked up specific things — Kingdom Come, Dark Knight Strikes Again — but didn’t think much else of the industry, especially since I completely lost track of my favorite Marvel titles in the wake of “Heroes Reborn” and DC titles after Zero Hour and other nonsense.
But thanks to the magic power of the internet, a visit to Comic-Con last year and easy access to my comic collection, I’ve started both infilling back issues and picking up VERY SELECT new stuff (X-Men, Captain America).
When I got divorced, I acquired my ex-wife’s comic collection, since she had no practical use for it, and among the lot of romance and horror comics were a good number of Jack Kirby’s ’70s stuff, including New Gods, Kamandi, The Demon, Devil Dinosaur and more. And I’ve since filled in some of those titles via garage sales and the such.
But when I tried to start reading Kirby’s The Eternals, it was like trying wine — everyone seems to love it, so I must be able to find one I like, right? Well, I read the first issue, then suffered through the second, then got halfway through the third. I couldn’t get into it. Here are these Kirby classics, and beyond looking at his stunning art, the comics themselves held no interest to me. Just like the nasty taste every wine has ever left in my mouth.
Weird, huh? I tried Kamandi as well, and suffered the same effect. That’s part of what kept me from buying new comics throughout the last decade as well: The characters and stories were so foreign from what I had previously known, I had no vested interest.
I find it funny that in my more tender years, I could pick up a completely new title such as Quasar — crapfest though it may have been — and totally be into it for 30 issues, but now I have no patience for such things.
Then again, it’s hard to say what causes that. My best friend is a big fan of the cable series Six Feet Under. She had a DVD playing in her apartment one day and I casually watched whatever episode was on the TV, and became engrossed in the characters in less than 10 minutes. I’ve now watched all five seasons and consider myself a fan now as well. One of the series’ stars, Michael C. Hall, went on to play the lead in the series Dexter, which has received great reviews and was promoted heavily at Comic-Con. So I figured it should be a no-brainer I’d like it, right?
Well, I started watching it via Netflix, and though I vaguely enjoyed the three episodes I watched, it was somewhat laborious and I now have no desire to finish up that first season or ever watch the show again.
If my degree were in psychology and not sociology, this would make for an interesting study and research paper: How and why do we develop attachments to certain works of serial fiction but not others? Anyone out there want to tackle that one?