Part 2: Reasons I’ve stopped buying particular series
What I’m about to list are specific problems that stopped me buying particular series; but you can extrapolate some general advice from what’s stopped me (and others?) from forking over our money to you. You can do whatever you want, of course, but some of those things are driving away some of your paying customers – which are commodities that I assume you want.
Getting cancelled (Or not showing up in my Standing Order)
I’m sorry, I’m making a controversial stand: if you stop publishing a series, I won’t buy it anymore.
Sorry to take such a hard line, but that’s where I stand.
I find indie comics are particularly susceptible to this one (though they aren’t the only ones). Kids Of The Round Table, Action Lab, Squirrel Girl, Super Sons are just a few.
One of the most frustrating for me is Aquablue.
The cover doesn’t say much, just a diver and a whale (the diver turned out to be an alien; that’s not a wetsuit; and it’s on another planet); but it’s so beautifully-done, I bought this one for the cover. Dark Horse only printed two issues of this series in English (many years ago), even though I know there are far more out there in the original French. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to source it in French. And that’s the added frustration for me: la français n’est pas une grand problème pour moi.
Please keep your good series going!
This is subjective, but I’ve found a couple of series just too dull, or unengaging. F4 (or Fantastic Foundation? FF? whatever, about the kids around the Fantastic Four) and Captain Marvel for example. Both those titles had major kid characters, and I couldn’t connect. That really shouldn’t be.
Basically, make your stories should be engaging, exciting, and fun and I’ll be more likely to read them.
There have been revivals and renewals of series I read where the new characters have nothing to do with the old characters; volumes 2-4 of Alpha Flight; some versions of Teen Titans; volume 2 of Young Justice, for example.
I’m sorry, but my love of those comics is more than surface-deep; it’s not because of a couple of words on a cover; I’m reading because I love the combination of characters, story type, writing style, art style… all that. If I don’t get those things out of “volume 2”, don’t expect me to give it the same love I gave volume 1. (That goes for fans, especially, by the way. If you companies demand that I give them the same love I gave the originals, I get that. I don’t agree with it, but I get it.)
That said, sometimes these can work and be taken to heart by fans; Hal Jordan is more accepted than Alan Scott; The All-New, All-Different X-Men have more fans than the original team ever did. I liked New Warriors: The Jubilee Years – though not as much as the original. I can’t tell you not to try it, just – don’t expect me to say ‘I’m an Alpha Flight fan’, and give me a group I don’t recognise as Alpha Flight, and then expect me to love it the way I love Byrne’s team.
By all means, bring back the original serieses. Please. But: listen to the fans; if you want to bring something back for the fans, try to understand what they loved about it, and bring that back.
Here’s another side of it:
I Don’t Like Your Tone
Did you notice that above, I didn’t just say ‘the characters’, but the tone and style, too?
There have been exactly two Alpha Flight series that have actually had Alpha Flight in them: volume 1 and volume 5.
Volume 5 was so angry, so screeching, that the only reason I didn’t drop it was because it got cancelled.
After that, I stopped buying every single appearance of Alpha Flight or their characters that came out ever. My Alpha Flight was dead forever, and there was no reason to keep chasing after them.
Please try to figure out what makes certain books so popular (and John Byrne’s Alpha Flight was popular, and the series has never been as popular since he left), and give us that. Please.
Blatant, hypocritical bigotry
This section isn’t a bid for sympathy or even-handedness or equality; this is something that will get me to stop buying a comic. That. Is. All. (I considered not putting in this section because I’ve seen how people react when the wrong people want to not be treated like crap because of traits like race, religion, gender; but the point of this article is things that will get me to stop reading. And this is one of them.)
I try to treat all people with respect at all times, until they give me a reason not to. And yet, I keep finding people trying to put a spin on everything I say and do to turn me into a bigot – not because of things I do, but because of my race and gender (see also: ‘digital blackface’; ‘mansplaining’, etc… etc… etc..). As soon as one of those things takes off, they invent another.
If you go out of their way to take offence at every petty little word, everything anybody says, no how matter how innocently-meant or innocuous, and then you, the very same people, keep saying things that are blatantly, hugely, clearly guiltily-meant and noxious; that is something I will no longer accept.
Also, please note: you’re allowed to publish whatever you want. I can’t stop you, and I wouldn’t if I could. But as Marx once said, “If you continue to publish slanderous pieces about me, I shall feel compelled to cancel my subscription.”* I’m allowed to stop paying for your publications, and I’m certainly not going to keep listening to your lessons about ‘tolerance’.
I’ve mentioned this one before: Champions #2 had a main character whinge about a ‘women-only’ trope in movies (that isn’t women-only) and the same character in the same issue used the phrase ‘the stench of testosterone’. She was supposed to be a hero, and nobody called her out.
I did not read #3.
I got up to #7 of the 2018 Exiles series, and (spoiler), they portrayed an alternate reality Charles Xavier as a bigoted stereotype of a pastor. I dropped the series like a hot rocks polka. I got a Free Comic Book Day Issue of Princeless and put the series on my standing order, and the first issue I got had negative stereotypes of the idea that men have rights (the very idea! We’re working for equality here, and how can we have equality if both genders have rights?). I did not get another.
Please note the keyword here: hypocrisy. It’s very important. It’s not the bigotry itself that’s getting me to stop reading. I’m a Christian; I’ve been putting up with bigotry for my entire geekdom, since before I was even regularly reading comics, and I would’ve continued to do so. But in today’s climate… no. Not anymore.
I’ll still read old stories that have such clear bigotry, because they’re from a time that wasn’t as hypocritical.
Still hypocritical, but not as blatant.
Just be even-handed, don’t treat anyboy like garbage because of their surface traits, and you’ll win over a lot more people.
I kinda covered this in part one, but remember: ‘edgy’ ‘dark’ ‘gritty’ ‘aren’t I kewl an mature an’ I’m a grownup coz I write about blood an’ guts an sechs an’ I swear an’ everything so there!’ series don’t always advertise themselves that way. So I’ve started a couple and given up after a while.
Puck came to join Marvel Now!’s X-Force before I stopped buying all Alpha Flight appearances, so naturally I bought it.
They keep needing to black-bar out their words , even though none of the characters had ever talked like that before, not in my experience. (Plus all the colours were brown, and the art was cartoonish and scratchy). I quit after, what, 6 issues?
I got 15 issues into Hinterkind before it got me down too much. It was okay, and had original characters, but just a little too ‘edgy’ for me. Just a little. It wasn’t a bad series, though, and I’d recommend it to those who aren’t quite as unimpressed with all this as I am.
I wouldn’t even have a problem with it, if these comics were the exception. They’re not. They’re the rule.
Still, there’s a middle ground between ‘super-kewl-edgy-grimdark’ and ‘this is a kids’ comic’. Find it; you might find a lot of potential buyers there, waiting for you. My rule is: comics don’t have to be for children; but they (most of them) should be something I’d be comfortable showing a child.
Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex!!!!!!
“As long as people are still having promiscuous sex with many anonymous partners without protection while at the same time experimenting with mind-expanding drugs in a consequence-free environment, I’ll be sound as a pound, baby!” I’ve always wondered if that line was supposed to be ironic? The only one of those terms that was out-of-date at the time the movie was made (and now) was ‘without protection’; or are the drugs of choice no longer mind-expanding? Because this is still precisely how people behave.
There was a series, I don’t remember which one (but it was Marvel), where issue one opened with two teenagers having sex and then asking each others’ names. These were our heroes. Our role models. This was the very first thing that happened in the entire series. Does anybody think that’s advisable anymore?
I did not buy issue two.
I got well into Buffy, Season 8; before the ‘sex, sex, sex, sex!!!!!!’ theme drove me away. In one issue, Buffy had sex with another girl; then a lesbian told her ‘I’m glad you’re going through your experimental phase, because I was getting worried you were a ‘phobe’. I mean, you either have gay sex or you’re homophobic? That’s the message the comic (and absolutely none of the gay people I know irl) is trying to send? I think the last issue I read was the one where Buffy and Angel created a universe by having sex (The Big Bang, as it were), and it showed me that the creators were making sex into a religion. I dropped it right after; and that comic had the backing of what used to be** my favourite TV show and its original creators behind it.
It’s not what I want to read about; let’s leave characters’ private lives private.
Over all, comic book companies – especially The Big Two – you are doing a lot of hard work to drive me away from reading your books. I want to keep reading. I want to have a Marvel and a DC book on my standing order at all times, I want to keep giving you my money, but you’re just making it unpossible for me.
Please, Marvel, DC, you in the cheap seats – if you’re reading me here, let me read you. Help me. Help me to help you. [/Jerry Macguire]
To the other paying customers: is it just me? Do any of you agree that these are problems? Is there any hope they’ll be fixed?
Have they driven away most of their core readers?
A Few Good Comics That I Think I’m Still Reading
I just want to do a quick shout-out to some things that I still find enjoyable.
Jim Henson: there’ve been a few Henson-based titles that have been fairly good. Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal comics are killin’ it. Storyteller is okay, though often far too simplistic.
I’ve done a ‘what I like about you’ article about Cookie And The Kid. It’s a charming little story with incredible artwork.
Sonata has been pretty good, too, and more incredible artwork.
Acknowledgement: Most of these covers have been grabbed from My Comic Shop. They don’t know I did it.
* That’s Groucho, of course.
** Note: when I say Buffy used to be my favourite series: I haven’t come to like Buffy less, I’ve just found a show I like even more: Avatar: The Last Airbender. In fact, I’m coincidentally rewatching Buffy now!