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Friday, August 5, 2011

The Sad State of the Comic Book Fan

In a previous blog I wrote about the sad state of affairs in the comic book industry. As the industry continues on its downward spiral everyone from comic book publishers, to editors, to artists and comic book readers continues to live in a state of denial about their situation. And there is no one more in denial than the comic book fan.

The comic book fan is a masochist like no other. Through cancellations, reboots, retcons, revamps, and rewrites of their favorite characters they come back for the next issue. Kill off their favorite characters in one issue and they’ll be back to buy the next one to read about the funeral. And they’ll be back the month after that to read about the adventures of the new guy who puts on the suit and calls himself a superhero.

Comic fans endure years of poorly written poorly drawn comic books just to make sure they have all the issues and defend the creators who produce them no matter how inept they are. They’ll give up their money for medicine and food to cover the costs of these books in spite of numerous price increases, and endure all types of abuse at their local comic shop just to get them.

Overcharge them for action figures based on those poorly written poorly drawn comic books and they’ll be right back ready to buy more. A price of $20.99 per action figure before sales tax was enough to make me pause at Toys R Us last Christmas, and pass on stuff, but the diehard comic fan is willing to pay this and more.

Insult comic fans at panels at comic con and they’re ready to buy more comics. Where is Wally West? Where is Donna Troy? Why is there so much graphic violence in comic books today? Do you really need to show graphic mutilations, and bloody murders on panel? Why do you relaunch every two years or so? Why are women treated so poorly in comics? Why are most women in comics dressed like strippers? Why has there no editorial direction for comics over the past ten years? What’s being done to get comic books back into retail outlets outside of comic book stores? Comic editors, writers, and artists sit on these panels aloof and arrogant giving out evasive answers to fans’ questions in a condescending tone without a care for serving the customers who pay their salaries.

And while fans will complain about their mistreatment at a comic shop, a comicon panel, or a bad storyline on a message board, they never take any action to FORCE change. Like the meek sheep they are comic fans just get their money ready for more abuse next month instead of demanding better.

The sad part about watching the comic fan is how quickly their resolve breaks down. They’re so delusional they justify their actions through a series of excuses that only seem logical to them. If I don’t get this issue I won’t know what’s going on next month’s issue. If I don’t get it now, there’s a chance they won’t make another one. I have to have it. I need it. If I don’t have it I’ll pay more later on ebay.

Confront them about their compulsion and it’s like watching a drug addict in denial about their problem. I can stop at anytime. They’re just action figures. They’re just comics. I’m not married to them. I can stop at anytime.

But they can’t.

Seriously, I’d hate to see what a desperate comic fan would do if they couldn’t trade a bag of cheeseburgers for a comic book or some action figures.

I had a saying way back in 2002: Pee on a regular person’s leg and call it rain and they punch you in the face. Pee on a comic fan’s leg and they’ll buy an umbrella.

And that’s why nothing changes in the comic book industry. The customers are a bunch of gullible saps without the courage or resolve to FORCE the change that’s desperately needed for the industry to survive. If the comic fan would show a little courage by leaving the comics on the rack, leaving the action figures on the shelf, not going to the movies and walking away it would have a tremendous impact on the industry, and make all those involved in it stop taking their dwindling customer base for granted.

Unfortunately, too many comic fans don’t have the courage to come together and take the actions that will lead to real change in the comic book industry. If they don’t get this issue they won’t know what’s going on next month. If they don’t get it now, there’s a chance they won’t make another one. They have to have it. They need it. If they don’t have it they’ll pay more later on ebay.


I’m the CUSTOMER. I’m ALWAYS RIGHT. You don’t make what I want I go to a COMPETITOR. If the comic book is GARBAGE, I don’t need the next issue. I don’t CARE what happens next month. I don’t give a SHIT what happens next month because it’s not what I WANT. I could give less than a flying FUCK if you make another one because this one is CRAP. I don’t need IT. If I don’t have it I won’t give a FUCK how much it costs on ebay because I’m not buying this SHIT if it comes GIFT WRAPPED.

That’s what Joe average says about products that don’t meet their standard. But the comic fan is in DENIAL about their POWER as a customer. They FEAR speaking up. They FEAR making DEMANDS of comic publishers and toy manufacturers to get what they WANT.

This FEAR allows the manufacturers and publishers to maintain power over them. It allows them to turn the tables on the customer and PUNISH them for exercising their POWER as CUSTOMERS. If the customers don’t buy it, they’ll cancel the comic. If the customers don’t buy the action figures they’ll cancel the toy line. If they don’t go see the movies they’ll stop making them.

And when the comic fan hears those threats they buckle under. They cave in. they open up their wallets and continue to fork over their hard-earned cash for products they DON’T WANT. Products that are MEDIOCRE and SUBSTANDARD.

And as long as there is a small group of willing to settle for less, the comic book industry has no real reason to change its approach to business. As long as the publishers can meet their minimum printing costs on the 50,000 copies they sell to 50,000 masochists, they could care less about the declining state of the industry. As long as they can continue to sell 10,000 action figures to 10,000 gullible suckers in a subscription, they don’t have to care about bringing their best to the marketplace in terms of quality.

Seriously, I keep wondering when will comic fans will do what I did back in 1995 with comics and what I'm doing with action figures this year and just say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH? When will comic fans realize they are the customer and they have the POWER to VOTE WITH THEIR WALLET? That if they WALK AWAY it speaks VOLUMES to the businesses that make comics and action figures?

Until the comic fan confronts their denial about the sad state of the comic book industry and takes their power as a customer nothing will change. The comic book publishers, toy manufacturers and other will continue to abuse them taking advantage of their compulsion and in some cases their addiction to their product. There has to come a point when the comic fan says Enough is Enough. No more. I have to change. The product has to change. Until the comic fan hits rock bottom the next revolution in the industry won’t be able to begin.


  1. 'I’m the CUSTOMER. I’m ALWAYS RIGHT.'
    Except in this case.

  2. I walked away from "new" comics around 2007. I remember buying an issue of the Justice League that was so poorly written it bordered on being incoherent,. Not only that but the writer hadn't bother to introduce any of his characters, so outside of Wonder Woman and John Steward, I had no idea who anybody was (I've since learned this was during the Joe Kelly run on the Justice League, and all the new characters used to second string villains). And I got on just in time. As soon I quit, both DC and Marvel starting doing crossover events that never seemed to end. I don't buy new comics anymore. I still read comics on my tablet, but the only thing on there, that isn't from 20 or 30 years ago, is Greg Rucka run on Wonder Woman. I agree with you, why should I spend my money on stuff that is complete garbage.