Recently, I ended up part of a conversation that got me thinking about fans and why we don’t always support the characters we love.
An artist was talking with a fan about a certain comics character both of them loved. (I won’t mention just which one that was, though.) “I love the character, but I don’t buy the book,” the artist said. “Why not?” the fan responded? “It sucks,” he replied.
That prompted a long conversation about why we as fans don’t always support the characters we love.
NOT SUPPORTING YOUR CHARACTER
As we talked about favorite heroes and why a fan might not buy their books or even to go to that character’s movie, there were several reasons that came up.
Money, as always, was an important one. You love a hero, but you change jobs and don’t get the income you once had. As I’ve mentioned before in this column several times, you have NO choice when it comes to paying the power bill versus buying comics. It doesn’t do you any good to have a comic if you can’t read it in the dark.
Even worse is when you can’t go to the movies. It must have been hard for Deadpool fans to have to sit out his film if they simply couldn’t pay to see it. Hopefully, those folks have bought the discs now that they’re available.
One of the other reasons that was brought up was that the creative team on the comic has changed, and the work of the new folks doesn’t appeal to you as much. I understand that. As a Batman fan, there were literally years when I couldn’t bring myself to read his books. I mean, Nocturna, the Calendar Man, and several other baddies I couldn’t stomach took me away from the Dark Knight. Luckily, I came back just before Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns hit, and it’s been a terrific time to be a Bat-fan ever since. But I can relate to not liking what some folks are doing with your hero.
Then, too, some characters really change over time. I’ve long mused over how Wolverine went from a short, cheroot-chomping, foul-smelling mutant to a tall, slender, glib, model-like hero. I’m sure that was meant to appeal to more people in the long run, but they really should have changed his name as he “mutated” so much! If you liked Wolverine in a previous state and he evolved into something completely different, I can appreciate you wanting to leave the guy behind. Maybe that’s why the current Wolverine is a woman!
Other people have left the whole comic-buying thing behind. I understand that, as one person said while we were talking, no storyline ever ends. It’s a forever commitment to comics, he said. He couldn’t live up to that kind of commitment. Now, two hours to see a movie, THAT he could do. I think that’s one of the reasons mutants have fallen out of favor with so many fans. Their stories STILL don’t conclude!
Then, too, the change could be in you. You’ve matured over the years, and the character has stayed the same. That’s just not as appealing as it used to be.
Another possibility we discussed was how dark comics have become. The biggest word I used to say in connection with comics was “adventure.” Now, “dark” is the word people often employ to describe today’s comics’ characters. Personally, I think there’s room for everything, from all-ages to what I refer to as “only certain ages” comics. DC’s Rebirth event seems to be doing well, so I’m hoping the darkness will be lessened as we move forward.
But I was surprised to hear so many people there say that video games have replaced comics in their lives. “I want to control where the story goes,” one guy said. “In a comic, I’m stuck with what the creative team is doing, and that’s it!” I had to counter with, “But if it’s a GOOD story, you’d probably enjoy that, right?” He muttered and changed the subject. I’m sure neither of us changed our minds.
WHERE NO FAN HAS GONE BEFORE
I remember when the first Avengers movie was coming out, I remember hearing people who didn’t know I as a comics fan was listening say, “I can’t wait to see those guys live on the big screen! I’ve never seen that before!”
I’ve often thought that last sentence is the challenge facing the comics industry. How do you take fans where they’ve never been before, to paraphrase Star Trek?
We’ve got literally decades of comics behind us, so what does the future hold in front of us? Movies? I’ve seen motion comics, animation, soundtracks, music to listen to lists, and many other things attempted to try and move comics to the next level. So far, I don’t think any of these have worked.
I guess ultimately when it comes to supporting the characters you love, you do what you can! I just hope we all do what we can as soon as we can, before the hero fades away!