Fan minus the fandom

I want to share an anecdote with you.

If you've talked to me at any time in the past several months about what comics I've been reading, you might have heard me tell this particular anecdote. If that's the case, you certainly don't have to read about it here. But I want to link something, and I feel like maybe if I explained this, people might understand why I think it's such a good idea.

Around college, I sort of stepped away from traditional comics fandom. There were a lot of reasons, and I didn't stop reading comics, or acting like a fan, hell, I think during this period of time I met more comic book creators and went to more conventions than I did in when I was a hardcore fanboy. I just... was in school, I was in an intellectual place, and when I talked about comics or characters in comics, or even writers of comics, it was from an intellectual standpoint. There was less geeking out, and when I did geek out, it was usually to people who didn't know much about comics, or just didn't geek out too. Such was life.

Not too long ago, Dynamite Entertainment began releasing several Green Hornet comic books, the one with the most hype being penned by writer/director/actor/filmmaker Kevin Smith. Anyone who knows me or reads the blog knows I'm a big fan of Kevin Smith, and less well known about me is that I'm a pretty big fan of the Green Hornet [I'm actually really fond of all the pulp-era two-fisted fedora-wearing crime-fighters, because of their versatility], so this was something of a dream match-up. I was especially interested because the comic was going to be based on Smith's unused Green Hornet, because 1) I'm a big fan of both movies and comics, 2) because I love seeing projects that fall into development hell [or worse, are canceled completely], and 3) because I'm obsessed over different mediums and how some projects work better or worse in them.

So I was excited. I was "put my fan hat back on" excited. So, I decided I'd take it the whole way -- I'd do what I hadn't since high school, and I'd go back. Back to fandom.

Back to... the message boards.

I won't mention what boards' names. It's not really important. But I was excited. One of my favorite writers, a cool character, a lot of possibility. I wanted to find like-minded, Kato mask-wearing nerds to geek out with.

Have you ever stopped going to restaurant you really liked? I mean, you really loved this place, they had the best... tacos, or pizza, or artichoke dip or whatever. But for some reason, a reason you no longer remember, you stopped going to this particular restaurant. And you don't remember why, and you pass this restaurant all the time on your way to work and while doing errands, and one day, you say "You know what? I'm going back." And you're going to get that dish you liked so well, and you're going to wonder why you ever left that place. So, you go to that restaurant, and the waiter comes over, and he takes your order, and he's very nice, and cordial, and the atmosphere is exactly what you want. I mean, you really have no idea why you ever left.

And then, just as the server turns to go he whips out his dick and pisses all over your table.

That was my experience going back to comic book message boards. I just have no idea what to do with the overwhelming negativity. And this is coming from me, you know? But not only did I get to come in on long conversations as to how Smith's Hornet was poorly written, had no story [this was back at issue #1, I'd like to point out], was racist, and that it was stupid that Kato was a girl. Plus a million other things, and it was like, okay, I get it, we all have our opinions, and no one is required to like this, but I couldn't find anyone here who liked anything. I mean, anything. And heaven forbid you did, because it was bad enough if you liked something everyone thought was stupid, they had make sure you knew that you were stupid for liking it in the first place.

I'm still proud to be a comic book fan, and I still think comic book fans are damn good people at heart [proof], and I still love talking to people who are comic book fans. But I want nothing to do with comic book fandom anymore. I mean, yes, there are things in comics I hate. I could spend hours bad mouthing things that folks like Mark Millar or Matt Fraction have written. But I really have no interest in that, I'd rather use the time telling people about comics that I like, that I think are good, and they might enjoy, like I did here, or here. Why pull someone down when I could talk about how awesome Rick Remender and Tony Moore are? I don't want to sign up for some comic news site's Twitter account, and the first article I see is a debate over whether the Rise of Arsenal or the Widening Gyre is worst comic ever written. I'd much rather see something like Eric M. Esquivel's Post-Modern Mythologies articles on Bleeding Cool, and I'm not just saying that because I consider Eric a friend. I'm saying that because Eric writes about comics he likes, about creators he likes, and generally seems to like comics.

Isn't that the idea? I mean, would you really spend your money on something you didn't like just to tell people who do like it that it's stupid?

Anyway. End of my rant. This whole thing is, honestly, just a very flimsy pretense to point you over to Valerie D'Orazio's blog, where she is trying to start a little comics revolution. Check out the first post here, and the second here, and I would suggest subscribing to her blog for future updates, and just for really good insight for the comic book industry. I can't help thinking that maybe her vision for the future of comics would involve a fandom not only more diverse, but not so... poisonous.

Oh, and Kevin Smith's Green Hornet? I have every issue out so far, and me and the woman who sells me my comics? We really enjoy it.

6 comments :: Fan minus the fandom

  1. I have two main thoughts in response to this.
    First is, that I agree that it is better, more enjoyable, and ultimately more productive to say positive things about the things you love than to bash the things you hate. While I understand sometimes it's fun to really dig into something that's terrible. Zero Punctuation ALWAYS has scathing reviews of video games, for instance. I write some terrible movie reviews from time to time. But mostly, I like to talk about the GOOD parts of movies- even the generic or flat out awful ones.

    As mentioned, Zero Punctuation ALWAYS has scathing reviews of video games. But they're funny. And that's the reason I occasionally write negative reviews of movies too. Because sometimes those are funnier to read. And if you're like Zero Punctuation, it's okay to only have negative reviews because a) you're paid to review, so there! And b) the reviews are hilarious. But if you're not funny about your mean comments, why bother saying them?

    That all being said, my second point is this: You said they all had things they hated and nothing they liked. There are forums for webcomics too based entirely on the premise that there are miserable trolls who can't get their nasty comments published on the webcomic victim of choice website, so they'll instead talk about it there. The only think you can do is ignore these miserable shits and let them hate everything. Nothing makes them happy except tearing apart other peoples' accomplishments. In general, that's the way message boards of any fandom tend to be. So you made the right choice and leaving once again.

    ... And come to think of it, I've recently been grumbling to Ian about a mutual friend of ours who is a lot like the people on those message boards you were talking about. He hates everyone and everything and it gets to the point now that I think without hatred, he'd have no personality or identity at all. And it's gotten so bad that we avoid him. It used to be funny when he'd make the occasional remark about something sucking. But now it's just sad, redundant, and pathetic.

  2. Generally, I'm okay with people complaining about things that are bad in real life. I feel like, in the same way someone asks you about your day, and you say how it sucked, that's sort of okay. But I just feel like so much ink, or webspace, or however you want to put it, is devoted to bad things. And of course there are a lot of bad things out there -- it's comics, there are a lot of them, and many of them suck.

    My thinking is why waste time putting up so many road signs saying "this is awful" when so much is awful, when what we really need is a big sign on things that are good? Or, at the very least, something someone else enjoys so people can look and say "oh, I have similar opinions to that person -- I might want to check out this thing they like."

  3. I can't believe you were surprised that internet message boards contained immature negativity.

    But then again, as someone who is usually surprised at life's other cruelties, I'm not one to talk.

  4. I wasn't surprised so much that there was the immature negativity, and I'll even go so far as to say that I think there's a time and a place for that. What got me is that there was nothing else -- liking anything was an open invitation to be ridiculed and dismissed, and no one wrote about comics they liked, they only wrote about comics which sucked.

    Now, being a fan I know what goes into buying comics, and how costly it can be, and unless they're just downloading them [and I guess that's possible], what you have is a legion of people with 50-100 dollar a month pull-lists of stuff they do not like, and only read to bad mouth.

    I expected more diamonds in the dung heap.

  5. i'm all over comic book and comic book movie web sites, and the message boards, while i can't stay away from them, are immensely frustrating

    i think you hit the nail on the head here. i would add, as an unimportant aside, that i really wish we could abolish all the threads where people suggest their lazy casting ideas. apparently Johnny Depp and Mark Hamil are the only actors working today

    mostly though, i like what i like, OR i'm curious what i'm curious about. nowhere more than music, but often enough in comics and film, can the FANS have the ability to ruin my enjoyment of the thing in question, and that is so unfair

  6. Exactly, PW. I mean, I feel like, as people who have a passion for this, we should want new people to discover it, to enjoy it, but so much of the fandom is so negative and abrasive that it becomes sort of impenetrable to outsiders, or when they do penetrate it, they look around and realize they want no part of this culture.

    And I don't know if your complaint about the casting thing is that far off the mark. I mean, it says a lot about the age range and gender of the people making these casting lists for comic movies, especially when you think that the very same thing was a popular feature in Wizard Magazine over 10 years ago. It just goes to show how insular and stunted so much of things have gotten.