The Internet can be a wonderful thing! For instance, I learn so much reading this very site, and that helps me be a better fan because I can talk intelligently about what’s happening in the industry in this column, among other things.
However, the Internet also has a darker side that can discourage and dishearten creators and fans alike, and apparently kill projects altogether!
WHEN I FIRST ENCOUNTERED IT
Some folks who read my columns and reviews have criticized me for being far too positive. I tend to want to talk about the good stuff rather than focus on what I think isn’t worth fans’ hard-earned money. One person even calculated exactly the percentage of times I gave 5 stars to what I reviewed, and complained that there can’t be that many good things out there! I should be much more negative and rip more projects to shreds, the person said! I should be more of a “basher” instead of such a “gusher,” I was told by a couple of others, because they find that more entertaining.
(Just FYI, I often talk with other reviewers who prefer to accentuate the positive and get that same kind of feedback as well. We all discuss how we come to our conclusions. I do have to say that the newer reviewing system on this site gave a lot more possibilities and has helped me be more exact. I always felt badly when I had to decide between a “4” and a “5,” so if something was way too good to give a “4” to, I’d fault the other way and assign it a “5.”)
But I ran into the negative aspects of the Internet many years back when I used to read message boards on several sites. The first one had to do with John Byrne. As much as he had a big fan base supporting him, he also had several people who followed him across the Web in order to let others know just how awful a person he was, how terrible his comics were and how everyone should boycott his stuff. Never mind that these people were buying his product in order to be able to rant negatively about it!
Of course, there were many denizens of the Internet who did that kind of thing regarding TV shows and movies as well. As with comics, if their criticisms were justified, I’d read them. But if they weren’t, I’d ignore the “hate” as much as I could.
Then I was at a Baltimore Comic-Con when Mark Waid was talking about his relaunched Legion of Super Heroes title. He was on a panel saying how discouraged he was by the Internet fan reaction and that he expected the title to go under any day now. It did eventually get cancelled, as nearly all books do, but a lot of us in the crowd told him that we enjoyed the comic and that he should keep up what we thought was excellent work. I doubt we changed his mind, though.
BEN AFFLECK’S SELECTION AS BATMAN
Being a big Batman fan, I try to follow as much Bat-news as possible. When Ben Affleck was chosen to play the Dark Knight in the Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice film, I saw a lot of the negative reaction to it. (Me, I waited until I actually SEE him play the character to make a call on it! I still consider him my favorite film Batman!)
The actor was on a late-night talk show relating how Warner Bros. told him NOT to go on the Internet once the announcement of his selection was made. They gave him print-outs of many examples of responses to previous announcements, but he was undeterred! He still went out to the Warner Bros.’ site to see what was being said about him.
The very first reply had the following response: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” After that, he banned the Internet from his house for the foreseeable future.
I think there just might be fewer folks unhappy with Affleck’s choice these days, but we’ll see!
ANOTHER RECENT EXAMPLE
Now, Cullen Bunn is one of the best writers in comics today, in my opinion. He does particularly well on darker characters and situations like The Sixth Gun, Sinestro, Magneto, and many others. I love that he adds that much-craved variety to my reading!
A little while back, he took over Aquaman for DC Comics. Here’s what he recently said about the situation on his Reddit.com account when discussing that #48 would be his last one:
“There are a number of reasons I left Aquaman. I actually quit the book before my first issue even came out. The reaction from fans was brutal and disheartening even before they read my first issue. My editor (who is great) asked me to stick with it, so I did. The fan reaction didn’t improve. This was such a different take on the character, a lot of diehard Aquaman fans couldn’t accept it. I was accused of not talking about the book, but every time I did, I got hate tweets and hate mail. I don’t need that, and it kind of made me loathe the character. In the end, I think this wasn’t the right story to tell with Aquaman, so I felt it was time for me to move on. Someone else can come on and be a hero.
“There’s a bunch of other stuff, too, but it’s best we don’t dwell on it.”
See, I would say that creators should give that kind of negative feedback as much weight as it deserves – that it’s someone’s opinion, but it may not be what the majority of those who buy their product think. I’m glad he’s continuing to do his other comics so I can keep enjoying his product!
WHAT REALLY MATTERS
Now, I’m all for people expressing negative opinions! If you don’t like something, DC and Marvel and the rest need to know that. But I think some “fans” enjoy denigrating people who can do things they can’t entirely too much! And you can say whatever you want without anyone knowing who you are, too! I’ve come across some who generate multiple screen names just so they can make it seem that more people think like they do.
I don’t think that’s very helpful, personally. I believe that if you don’t care for something and feel you need to express that, then post your opinion clearly and non-threateningly. Just remember that others may agree or disagree with you, and that’s okay. (They’re not “stupid” if they don’t agree with you!) Be sure to say why you don’t like it and even give constructive criticism if you can! We all benefit from that, in my opinion!
I know I say this a lot, but it’s so true that it bears repeating. This is called show business for a reason. As great as it is to have people voice their support or lack thereof on the Internet, I think that how much a product actually sells is a more accurate measure of how good something is most of the time. Granted, that’s not always the case. There are a host of “undiscovered gems” out there I could name that SHOULD sell better, but it all comes down to how many issues of something actually sells as to whether a book is cancelled or not.
Also, there are enough things working against a comic, any comic, these days that it’s amazing we have the number of great comics we do!
The way I would wrap up this whole discussion is: Support those creators and creations you like in every way you want to! However, if you want to voice your opinion and state that something blows chunks, do that, but then move on! Nobody buys something hoping it will suck, after all!
One last note: I often love to check out the reviews and recommendations of others and see what it is they like! I’ll go after comics some reviewers recommend and at least give them a shot! I discovered The Walking Dead that way, when a comics shop owner said that was a comic I should be reading but wasn’t yet! I’ve had some friends tell me TWD isn’t worth buying for various reasons (including the fact that the art is black and white), but I didn’t listen to them because I know how engaging it is! I appreciated their input, but it didn’t change my mind. And that’s how thinking people disagree!
Oh, and by the way, I still highly recommend Cullen Bunn’s writing no matter what you may have thought of his run on Aquaman! In my opinion, it’s great stuff! And you already know how great Mark Waid’s books are!