This week, the Episode 59 of the Fire and Water podcast went up. During the episode co-host Robert Kelly relayed a story in which a reader of his blog, the Aquaman Shrine, left a comment on one of his posts stating that Rob was actively ignoring current story-lines to the detriment of the shrine blog as a whole, specifically Aquamans involvement in the DC event currently being billed as the 'Trinity War'.
This sparked a conversation between the co-hosts Rob and Shag in which Rob revealed that, when it comes to new things, he just doesn't care (for the most part). This prompted Shag to launch into a "nostalgia is awesome" speech and the conversation ended with the two requesting feedback from fans on this concern, particularly given the amount of listeners with comics blogs of their own (such as myself). Is it OK to not cover everything? What would you cover? How do you choose? Etc.
This discussion brought to the forefront of my mind a topic that has been dancing on the periphery for some time now.
DC just ain't doing it anymore.
Ironically, hours before the episode in question went live, I was in my living room organizing comics. I started by sorting into publishing piles (Dark Horse, Image, Marvel, DC, etc.) then from there splitting them by title. At the end of it all I had one pile of nothing but "New 52" issues. Every one I owned. And I immediately decided that I didn't care about any of them. Not a single one.
When it comes to currently ongoing DC titles, I don't care to rush out on Wednesday and pick up the latest issue to see what's going on (not even the AMAZING Scott Snyder 'Batman'). I'm happy to wait for the trade or just read it when I read it.
I suppose my lack of enthusiasm could be related to my increasing love of the trade format, but I sincerely doubt it.
In the episode, the guys asked about covering nostalgia and if it's OK. I not only think it's OK, I think it's basically the only option we have left if we want to cover thrilling and exciting material and not bore our readers by forcing ourselves to pretend to care about material that we just don't.
Let me tell you why. In the episode Shag mentioned "event fatigue" as what Rob was experiencing but told him that, in reality, Trinity War is the first "event" in two years from DC. Not so. And let me tell you why.
Since the launch of the New 52, DC Comics has been putting out strings of multi-book cross over story-lines. The Batman family had "Court of Owls" and "Death of the Family". The Superman books had the "H'El on Earth" storyline. Green Lantern had both "Rise of the Third Army" and "Wrath of the First Lantern" go through all FOUR of their related titles. Animal Man and Swamp Thing had "Rotworld" for a long while...and many more (such as the Hawkman and Green Arrow cross over, the Justice League and Aquaman "Throne of Atlantis", etc.)
And that's just what I can remember off the top of my head.
Now that might not be much. But let's consider the individual title's themselves.
Aquaman had "the Trench" then "the Others" then "Throne of Atlantis" and now whatever is going on. Batman had "Court of Owls" then "Death of the Family" then "Zero Year". Justice League had that "Secret Origin" type thing then that story with Graves and so on. And this goes on through out every other title.
If these books aren't crossing over, they're a part of some 6 or 8 or 10 issue storyline. Let's be honest, that many issues to tell ONE story can ABSOLUTELY feel like an event.
Now let's take what's been bugging me for nearly a year now.
DC is treating their creators like crap. Because of the LanternCast podcast, I know some people in the industry. Off mic, I've been told some stories that verify that DC Comics is FAR more concerned with what their grand goal and plan is than creative freedom. Which, honestly, makes sense for one of the biggest publishers in the entirety of this genre. But they're going about it HORRIBLY.
Never before has every event, every gimmick, come across to fans as such an OBVIOUS ploy.
Flashpoint beget the New 52, the New 52 has been teasing Trinity War since day one. The launch of the New 52 gave us an anniversary ploy of "zero month". Now they're going to give us whatever the hell that villains thing is coming up.
DC is more machine than EVER. George freaking Perez has now gone EXCLUSIVE to Indy publisher BOOM! Studios. George's work is ICONIC. The NAME alone brings up sales. He gets paid WELL. And you know what? He basically said, "I'm done with all this crap." and went to BOOM!.
Here's the DIRECT quote: "While I have enjoyed considerable professional and personal success with both Marvel and DC, it was becoming all too evident that many of the books being produced by both companies seem to be getting more and more corporate driven. Many of the characters I grew up with were turning into strangers whose adventures were determined by factors that had less and less to do with what made a good comic story and more to do with how these properties can be exploited for other purposes. There's nothing wrong with that, I guess, but not something that I felt was particularly satisfying for me as a storyteller." (read the FULL CBR article HERE)
That's GEORGE PEREZ.
Let that sink in.
The industry isn't creator driven anymore. Sure, there are some things that we LOVE. Some unique take here or there. But overall? The off the wall comics, the new stuff, the weird stuff? It's long gone from the big two. They don't want to take a chance on it anymore. Because that COULD hurt the bottom line. And they're taking more steps now than EVER to make SURE what is being published matches what THEY want for their universe and their bottom line. And that's pushing creators (and potential) away from them.
I'm sorry. It's true. That's why I love Indy comics now more than ever. Because the potential and the creators I love get to do nearly anything they want and just let LOOSE.
And THAT'S why Rob feels such strong event fatigue. THAT'S why we're all longing for "nostalgia". Because honestly? That old stuff isn't JUST good comics. It signifies the SPIRIT of comics. And which of us comics bloggers, so devoted to our characters, would chose the new corporate vision of our beloved character...over an iteration of them where we were just pleasantly surprised with each new issue?
- Chad Bokelman
- I started reading comics regularly after 'Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns'. Since then, I've become a co-host on 'The LanternCast' (a podcast dedicated to Green Lantern that's been on the air since 2008), started a new podcast covering the late 1980's DC series Action Comics Weekly (appropriately titled The Action Comics Weekly Podcast), and have been the curator of THE blog on the internet dedicated to the character of Ragman, created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert published by DC Comics starting in 1976 and currently appearing on The CW show 'Arrow' as portrayed by actor Joe Dinicol. I'm an avid fan of comics, classic rock, and speaking my mind. Welcome!