Monday, October 10, 2016

Little Annoyances Build Up

There are two things in the comics/fandom realm that are annoying me lately. Actually probably a lot more than two, but these are the ones that drift to the forefront most often.

One is, when a book is swiftly canceled, for people working in comics to blame the audience for not pre-ordering the book. This came up last month, I think, when Marvel's recent Nighthawk book, to the surprise of pretty much no one, died a quick death.

The other thing is when writers try for some big shake-up/shock ending to the first issue, and people react poorly. Then you get other fans telling the first group, "it's probably a fake out" or to "give it time". Recent examples being Nick Spencer's "Captain America works for HYDRA" thing, and again with last week's first issue of Jessica Jones. It isn't the cheap "everything you knew is wrong" aspect of it, I'm used to that, and hell, there's probably been a fair number of those I've enjoyed over the years. The goal is to hook the reader, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It's the insistence the audience owes the creative team another issue, or another five or fifteen.

The common thread is this placing of all responsibility on the audience. It's the audience's job, apparently, to make a book a success by buying a copy based on some flimsy information about who is working on it (which may change by the time the book is released, to say nothing of all those "TBA" artists) and whatever nonsense the solicitation text might provide (if you get anything more than "CLASSIFIED"). They won't even see this book for another two or three months, but they must agree to pony up for it right now. If the writer goes for some lame twist, the fans are again responsible for giving up more time and money until they see if some decent explanation or payoff is provided.

Of course, people pre-order books that get canceled all the time. If you've ever pre-ordered comics, then you've probably had something you were reading canceled. In 2009, Marvel canceled 6 different series I was pre-ordering. Someone was pre-ordering Nighthawk, for all the good it did them. Even if I could get every person who reads this blog to pre-order a book I asked them to, it probably wouldn't tilt the needle enough to do anything. Point being, telling fans who are dismayed a book they enjoyed would have survived if they'd only pre-ordered is a load of crap, because odds are, those people already were pre-ordering, or would have if they could. I'm not expecting these creators to fix the Direct Market, however you would do that, but punching down isn't going to help either. Of course, punching down is comics' favorite pastime, from companies towards creators, and creators towards fans, or creators with more tenure towards less-secure ones, or large groups of fans towards more marginalized sections, so maybe it's no surprise.

As for the second irritant, a writer can't tailor their story to appeal to everyone, I know that. Some people are not going to enjoy what the writer or artist does. Sometimes that's going to build slowly, that gradually dawning realization this book just isn't clicking. Nick Spencer's Ant-Man stuff is like that. There are parts I enjoy, but the whole didn't come together in a way I could get with. The idea Spencer and Rosanas were somehow owed my eternal patience and money while they moved things along is absurd. They had their chance to get me to stay, they failed, that's how it goes. Better luck next time. There's a million things out there to read, watch, play, or listen to. Expecting people to keep throwing away money on something they don't like or that actively angers them, just because the creative team haven't finished revealing their brilliance, is nuts.

Yeah, the audience can cop to the fact they're making judgments based on one issue, or five, or however many they gave the book, but beyond that? I figure if someone says, "I'm not buying Jessica Jones because I don't like that Bendis appears to have broken up Jess and Luke's happy marriage," that's fair. Bendis chose to go that route (or give the appearance of going that route), they can choose to walk away because that was something they enjoyed. A person can choose to give a creative team a second chance, but they don't owe it to them. The saying is "let the buyer beware", not "let the buyer shut and keep giving us money for shit."

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