Here I am working in the post apocolyptic world the Mayans failed to eradicate. Mayan FAIL! I am sitting in a library kiosk bidding my time between patrons with my thoughts about this issue my friend Gene and I had talked about late last night. It would have been interesting if the world was destroyed because then I would not have to be here at work and, more importantly, hearing this news about Peter Parker/Spiderman dead. I’m sorry to say this is really nothing more than a business decision to increase sales. I think it’s the lack of direction and originality that placed us where we are today with comic books. Gene and I have had this conversation over and over again about the problems with comics. Basically, there is no right solution to the problem or should I say problems but let me list them to get them off my mind.
Price – Back in the 70′s, growing up with comics were not only fun but affordable. With a $1.05, I was able to pick up 3 comics a week from the local store. I was not interested collecting several copies of the same book in the hopes of selling them in the future for massive profit; I just needed one. I was enjoying the stories because they were fun to reading. Many times, the stories were complete within the issue and a few that had a small arc maybe 3-4 issues. I did not mind wasting my allowance because as each week passed, my collection kept on growing and I kept on re-reading my treasures. Over the decade and a half, my interests in comics were waning by my interests in females, clothed females and the price of comics were well past the price of $1.05 now for each one.
Stories – One of the main draws for me are the stories that were told as well as the amazing artwork. For me, while I love DC with all my hearts, The Uncanny X-Men – The Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont was THE storyline growing up. A couple of years ago, I did a career day and I talked about my love of comics books which helped my reading. When I mentioned my favorite comic book storyline, I was recalling the moment how Jean Grey sacrificed herself on the moon fighting along her X-Men comrades. The pain of Scott seeing Jean being killed before him was unbearable and then ultimately leaving the X-Men. You could have heard a pin drop in the classroom as the kids were there; in the moment with me. That was a mark of great storytelling. You know you’re old when you find yourself saying, “Well, back in my day…” but while I read the comics today, there are complicated storylines and story-arcs that reach across multiple books if not the entire comic book line. If you missed one or two books, you were lost. The only way to enjoy them is to have a graphic novel collection to capture the scope but then the cost would be helluva lot more than a $1.05.
The BIG event – When the 90′s rolled around, the Death of Superman was the BIG event that made this old comic book reader shelling out money for this incredible story. Yes, there was Crisis on Infinite Earths, which came out before and killed many iconic characters, but the death of Superman was something unheard of and beyond what came before. Looking back, this is no different from what has happened to Spiderman, or the Human Torch or Captain America or …. This BIG event becomes meaningless over time and I refuse to play the game. I might read it but I don’t want to buy it. It’s one thing to have the hero kill or vanquish the villain and then years later the villain shows up again. It’s another thing when you plan on killing a major character to only have them return a year later. I was duped as a reader and I don’t want to be taken again. I don’t want to hear the words, “This changes every thing…” because nothing changes.
Over Christmas, I got an iPad which I was more than overjoyed with. My tablet from last year somehow got cracked and became inoperable. When it was working, I had downloaded digital comics from various apps and read what I could while online. The experience in reading in was awkward at times as I would have to change the rotation of the tablet from portrait to landscape or zoom in to read the text. I’m glad comic books are heading into this new medium but there needs to be a better way. When Gene and I were talking about the death of Peter Parker, I had my iPad open to a digital copy of Batman vs. the Hulk. While the file was a PDF, there are no software enhancements to read each panel close up except to zoom in, I was ok with this because of the size of the screen and the clarity was amazing. This led me to believe, I might have answer to my problem.
Since I loved collecting comics so long ago, I find no value in them today other than to read them online or borrow from the library. I have to go digital all the way. I am willing to pay the low rate, like Netflix low, per month to read the comics online or through wi-fi. I just feel this will be the only way that I can enjoy myself with comics again as well as access to my older comics which I don’t want to take out of my storage. I’ll put up with the constant killing of heroes or rebooting of series, I just want to have a wonderful time reading comics again without the hassle of buying.