Article originally written by Ryan Closs
So last week my M101 co-writer, the esteemed Joshua Mocle, took a bit of IM conversation between us and used it to springboard an interesting look at Comics Addiction (the actual existence of which is a little dubious in my mind). I figured this week I could share my side of things. For posterity, here’s that snippet of conversation again:
JM: Marvel is fucking with me personally, and I am not amused. Seven double shipping books (in June??) Seriously??
RC: So you get more good books/month, and?
JM: My wallet isn’t made of money!
RC: So drop some books, no one is forcing you to buy anything.
JM: I did, I dropped a lot of books, and then all the books I can’t drop double ship.
JM: Don’t pull that card with me asshole, you know full well there’s addiction and completionism on the table here. Its not as strong in me as it is with others, but it is there.
RC: It’s still a choice.
RC: It’s not fucking heroin.
JM: Yes, true, but addiction is addiction.
I definitely believe that there are psychological addictions. For example, people can definitely be addicted to gambling, shopping and video games. That said I’m not sure that comics fit into that realm. Do people make a habit of buying comics? Sure. Do people maybe even have some compulsion to keep up with it? Sure! Are people going to lose jobs, loved ones and family members because they go to the comic shop every Wednesday and spend too much on comics? I’m not so sure.
It’s pretty clear based on his article that Josh has a worse habit than I do, or at least one that makes him more uncomfortable than mine does. Josh was getting bent out of shape ultimately because he had too many good comics to read. Does that strike anyone else as weird? I firmly believe that if you don’t love a book that you’re still buying, just drop it. Are you rating a book as a 2 or 3 week in week out? Ditch it. Life is too short to waste time reading bad comics. You have to realize there’s just no way to read everything, so you have to draw your own line somewhere.
I recently drew a line for the Avengers. I’m not reading anything with Avengers in the title, and for the first time since I got back into comics 5-6 years ago I’m skipping a major event from Marvel/DC. No Fear Itself for me! When I dropped the Avengers it was a little hard, sure; everyone on Twitter was talking about it and I wanted to keep up. Now? It’s been about 6 months and I don’t care anymore. As for Fear Itself? #1 came and went, and I don’t feel like I’m missing a thing.
What I’ve discovered is that if I’m addicted to anything, it’s talking comics with friends and not the actual comics themselves. I love them, I love reading them, but what makes them compelling to me is getting to talk with friends about them every week. That’s something that comics have over movies, TV (at least between seasons) and books – a regular timely release schedule so that every month I can talk about Batgirl or Thunderbolts on Twitter. That conversation is the only real reason I’m not exclusively buying trades. Sure, I could read scans of the issues, justifying my piracy by saying “I’ll buy the trade eventually,” but I realized that was bullshit. To be completely honest the vast majority of stuff Marvel and DC put out I just don’t really want to own forever. There’s some truly epic books at both companies that I imagine I will go back to eventually (Hickman’s Fantastic Four comes immediately to mind) but most of what I’m reading from both is light, yet ultimately disposable, fun.
Once I realized that I felt much, much better about my comics buying habit, I decided I’d only read books I wanted to actually pay for and have cut pirating scans completely from my comic reading diet.Continued below
I wasn’t always like this though, when I first got back into comics around the time of 52 and Civil War, I felt the need to read EVERYTHING. I vividly remember waiting months for some random Moon Knight issue so I could read everything in “order”. I read all the tie-ins for Civil War and only after the fact realized most of them were crap. When Secret Invasion came around I cut back to reading the main story and only the tie-ins with creative teams I liked. Turns out I preferred stuff like the Black Panther and Captain Britain tie-ins more than Secret Invasion itself. With Siege I only read the main story and the Chris Samnee drawn Siege: Embedded. Fear Itself? I’m not reading anything aside from any crossovers into books I’m already buying. It’s been a weaning process but now I no longer “need” to read the events. I’m reading a ton of Flashpoint books (I think 10 of the minis) but unlike the reasons I read Blackest Night or Siege, I’m reading them solely because I’m excited about the story and not because I feel a need to keep up with what’s going on.
It seems like Marvel and DC only know how to market books that “matter.” How often do we see “SOMEONE WILL DIE” or “EVERYTHING WILL CHANGE FOREVER” in solicits? This attitude along with the almost persistent banners indicating that a book is part of some “event” or “status quo” (like Dark Reign or Brightest Day), in addition to the rising cost of comics, seems to have lead to more and more people only buying comics that “matter” as opposed to comics that are good. I can’t tell you how many people said that they didn’t read Thor: The Mighty Avenger because it “didn’t matter”. So many comic fans seem to have bought so thoroughly into the respective shared universes that they start to blame Marvel and DC for putting out too many books. No one is holding a gun to your head; no one is taking money directly out of your wallet. You don’t HAVE to know what’s happening in every corner of the Marvel U, and even if you wanted to it’s basically impossible to do so.
Stop blaming Marvel and DC for putting out a lot of books. If you’re enjoying the books you read, then more good books is a GOOD thing; if you don’t think they’re worth the money every month, then just STOP. These books will be around for a long time, and there’s no shortage of extremely cheap Marvel trades at comic conventions if you want to go catch up on what you missed in the future (admittedly DC isn’t as good about this, but you can still usually find the stories if you look a little harder). Read books you love and get a kick out of, but don’t read books because you think you have to. Because that’s bullshit.