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Friday, August 23, 2013 

When are the editors more troubling than the writers?

A writer for CBR spoke about his addiction to buying/collecting, and how he was allegedly turned off by the drop in quality of the X-books in the 1990s. He says:
How I've forgiven myself for not letting me drop all the X-Men spin-offs as they one-by-one took a nosedive in the late '90s, I'll never know. I do think, though, that the rage I felt towards books like "Generation X" and "X-Factor" as they drifted further away from the characters, status quos, and creators that I loved has given me a little bit of insight into why we keep reading books we hate. Every month after a new issue of one of those books sent me into a hissy fit, I would think about how much better they would be if I was writing them. Yes, I believe that reading bad comics back then boosted my ego without me having to do anything to prove it. I thought I could write better than that, and feeling arrogant and smug about a comic I didn't like gave me a weird validation, one that was much easier to achieve than actually writing down something creative. While I don't think that all critique stems from this desire to have one's ego boosted, I think it definitely plays a part in why we keep coming back to bad books month after month. There's really no other reason to keep reading something you actively hate, right?

Well there is a legitimate point that it's weird why anybody would want to read a book just because they hate the poor level of storytelling it's fallen victim to. That's the problem with some readers, that they don't like the story, yet they keep buying the book out of collector's addiction, presumably because they feel they simply must be completists, on the one hand, and on the other, because they think they'll have monetary value someday despite the bad story at hand. Yes, that is a very serious crisis.

But anyone who thinks that if they get into the writing career and will be allowed to write certain books at ease, just the way a sizable audience would like, is deluding themselves. For, did/has he considered the influence the editors have over the output, right down to the crossover stories? Yes, that's just the tip of a very bleak iceberg to give some idea of how near impossible it could be to write a stand-alone story unhampered by crossovers, with authentic character drama to boost it better. Marvel and DC alike have become closed shops today, with even some of the better veterans all but banished from their list of acceptable contributors. Only writers who conform to their pedestrian visions are de riguer now, and that includes some of the writers who'd worked on X-Men in the 90s too. And if the article writer wants to write something respectable of what made the superhero titles work to start with, he's going to have to ponder how the modern editors don't share his view.

That is, if he's really true to his word. But, he said something that makes me less certain:
Well, there are, actually, and now that I'm in the position where I like 40 titles a month -- despite my memory problems -- it's become harder and harder to cut the bad ones loose. I have to choose between truly great comics and truly good comics, and that gets tough. I'm thankful that I no longer suffer true trash, but those lower-tier yet still solid books keep me sticking around for all the old reasons. I'm convinced they'll get great, or a new creative team is just around the corner, or it's about to tie into a crossover that I'm interested in, or it's going to be canceled in a few issues anyway. All of these reasons are keeping me reading numerous books right now. They're books I enjoy, but now I'm wondering if I shouldn't be devoting that brain space to my absolute favorite books -- or, you know, things that aren't comics.
So despite his opinion that the X-books took a nosedive in the 90s, due in part to the largely pointless crossovers they became saddled with, he still likes the crossovers, which hit bottom with Avengers: Disassembled, House of M and Civil War, and probably also dug Avengers vs. X-Men? (And he says earlier he reads Jonathan Hickman's take on the Avengers.) If those 40 books he likes include quite a few from the big two, and worst, if he can't bring himself to just drop some of them, digital output included, then I'm not sure why he's making this argument. How is the latest output from Marvel any better than the 90s material? I managed to drop just about all coming from the big two in the past decade because they'd become so awful. Since then, whenever I buy comics, what I buy is mainly trades collecting older material, and rarely do I buy pamphlets now, because they're very expensive at 4 dollars.

At least he admits he's got a problem with addiction. But the argument about dropping books you don't enjoy can't be considered a convincing one if he doesn't prove the courage to abandon more, and avoid giving legitimacy to the editors and publishers now in charge. Indeed, that's the biggest problem with collecting addiction - it only bolsters Quesada, DiDio, Alonso and others who don't deserve the jobs they still have.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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