Let me ask you something, just between you and I.
We're all friends here right?
Since this is all done in type and it's not even remotely a discussion I'll answer for you. Hell no we're not. Not even close. We all hate each other. At least, that's how it seems when you look online.
Why is that?
We all have our favorite creators, our favorite books, our favorite publishers, but if yours isn't the same as mine-- look out. We'll have a fight on our hands. I mean, how many times a day do you go to one message board or the other and see two kids arguing about the most inane bullshit for no damn reason. I'm not talking about cool things like Hulk beating Thor debates or anything like that. That's a valid argument in our circles. I'm talking about shit like whether or not Rob Liefeld should have ever been popular and retarded discussions like that. I mean isn't arguing about whether DC is better than Marvel just like arguing if peanut butter is better than jelly?
As a collective group, I ask-- Do we really have that much time on our hands?
It's odd because this is really the only form of entertainment where if you "read comics" you're a "comics reader." You wouldn't call someone who reads magazines a "magazine reader" you'd call them a person. And you never ever hear anyone ever say "I think I'm going to give up movies." Because of this, I feel you have to acknowledge that we are a different breed of entertainment consumer. Our little pocket of the entertainment industry is different, it is. Still, I don't think that alone justifies the fact that you never hear people in a bookstore arguing which publisher is better "Bantam or Random House."
Are we just a crabby bunch of folks?
Newsarama comes to mind almost immediately any time this discussion comes up. Matt Brady and crew does one hell of a job with that site, I visit it almost once a day, I have for years. It's great site. But have you ever seen an announcement for a new book that didn't follow some snide comment about the books origins.
"This is company A cashing in on craze B."
"Looks just like character B to me."
"That's not going to sell."
Go there, right now, skim around a bit and you'll see any number of comments like this. My favorite one ever comes from when "Invincible" was announced and it got it's first article on Newsarama. I was jazzed, I mean, it was one of the first times I was on the news site. We showed a little bit of the book, some pages, a cover, stuff like that. You all know what Invincible looks like... or most of you reading this column should (if this isn't your first time reading it). Okay, what would you think is the first comment we got? I'll never forget it. You ready?
"'Invincible?' Looks more like 'Static Shock' to me."
Yeah, really. I'm as shocked as you are. The only thing Invincible has in common with Static Shock is that he's a teen superhero. Invincible is far more of a Spider-Man rip off than a Static Shock rip-off. And really, the funny thing is that the characters look absolutely nothing alike. But that's just the way we are.
Allow me to stray from the subject a little. You're not paying to read this, cut me some slack.
Any time a new character is released onto the scene, it seems like there's tons of comic readers out there ready to grab a pitchfork and storm the gates. Everyone is quick to cry thief. No matter how a character looks. A recent example of this is when Marvel announced their new book "Gravity" by Sean (Eisner Award Winner) McKeever and Mike (Not going to bother to research to see if he won an Eisner) Norton. People saw that and almost immediately started saying he looked like an "Invincible" rip-off.
I mean, he flies right?
It's just damn crazy. The thing about it is, our industry, while getting a tiny, tiny bit more diverse all the time, is still 99% superheroes. What is a superhero, I ask you? Well, he's a guy or gal, who dresses up in a costume, usually has a secret identity, and fights bad guys. That's it. That's a superhero. If you strip it down to that, every single book is a rip-off of Superman, right? I mean, I think I heard of people in the sixties claiming Spider-Man was a rip-off of Superman. When you think about it, they're both guys with superpowers, secret identities, who fight bad guys-- and they both do it in red and blue costumes!! What thieves those Stan Lee and Steve Ditko kids must have been.
So really, the next time I create a superhero, let's all remember there's only so many variations on the theme and depending on how many layers you want to dig down to-- they're all rip-offs of Superman, or The Shadow, or Flash Gordon or whichever one is considered the original superhero.
Now, let's get back on the subject.
The thing about it is, I think we should all get along like a house on fire. That's the way it should be. We all read comics. We all like them. That's why we're here. We've already got more common ground than anyone we'd meet at a dinner party or some other place where you meet new people (I don't leave the house much). It only makes sense that we would all get along based solely on the common ground we all share.
I mean, we've all read "Watchmen" at least once, right?
Personally, I chalk it all up to internet bravery. I doubt half the arguments that go on online would go on if we were all hanging out in the local comic shop together. I understand that some people are a tad more bold online than they would be in person, and that's a real shame. Because I think everyone could use a couple more friends when it gets down to it and we've got a buzzing little community here, if we could all just get along.
I mean, think about what we could accomplish if we all worked together? The possibilities are endless if you sit down and think about it. I mean, at the end of the day, at most, there's probably what 10,000 of us that read comics and actively spend time on the internet chatting? That's not that much, but we could totally take over a small town if we worked together-- or y'know we could do something more constructive.
Anyway, that's what was on my mind this week. Some friends of mine had been riding my ass about just throwing jpegs up on this thing so I figured I'd give you kids and honest to god opinion column this week. Don't get any ideas, though. I still want you to... BUY MY BOOKS.