Some comments on one of Scott’s articles got me thinking about an old maxim of mine: I have frequently told fans to drop a book if they don’t like and voice their disdain with buying power. I’ve followed this rule several times over the years but never on what is my favourite book, Amazing Spider-Man.
For the last 25 years I’ve bought every issue of ASM ( or Superior Spider-Man) that came out. Sure, I’ve dropped other Spidey titles but I’ve always stuck with the flagship Spider-Man title through thick and thin. And while it hasn’t always been great, I’ve never hated it. But what if I did? Would I suddenly allow a break in 25 years of collecting? Or would I begrudgingly stick with the book only to tweet my displeasure on an hourly basis?
Danny Champion brought up a sports fan analogy which I think is quite appropriate. Many sports fans love the sport and love their favourite team but hate the fact that local sports club is doomed to years of championship drought brought on by incompetent management. The Toronto Maple Leafs have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967. That means that any Leafs fan under that age of 46 wasn’t even alive the last time they tasted supreme hockey victory. But there are legions of white and blue fans that come back year after year because they love the team. They just hate the way the team plays or the decisions that are made. But the idea of not watching the Leafs play hockey doesn’t even enter into a fan’s mind. They just deal with it and phone into talk radio to rage and blow.
So it is pretty easy for me to tell you all to drop a book if you don’t like it. In the way that it is pretty easy for someone to say that you should stop watching hockey or baseball. But it isn’t quite that cut and dry. If you are hating on your favourite book cancelling years of collecting it isn’t really an option, so my advice is both useless and dismissive of your concerns. I think that my advice works for other books in your collection, but not for a favourite title. Really in the case of your most-loved comic you really just want it to be better.
Our love of a specific book or character does hold us at ransom though, and so we begrudgingly buy it twice or three times a month, or buy annuals, or buy point one issues full of uselessness. The collector mentality also drives us with a desire to know what happens next. The fear of missing out (or FOMO) contributes to our staying through the rough times, ever hopeful that we will return to the halcyon days when we were first enamored with super-powered being in tight pants.
I might think about looking for a cheaper way to acquire my favourite book. I might hate it at $4 but would I hate it less if I were buying it at $2 or $3? Subscriptions (either from the company or from a local comic book shop) can reduce the price of comics to a more tolerable range.
Constructive criticism (via social media, letters, petitions, etc.) is a valid response. It doesn’t always carry the same weight as a boycott (because the companies are still getting your money), but you are letting Marvel or DC or whoever know that you have been a loyal fan over the years and are displeased with the current direction of the book. Fan response changed the Clone Saga, saved Spider-Girl on more than one occasion, has saved characters from an untimely demise, or saved artists or writers from the unemployment line.
Most likely though death threats or telling writers via twitter that they “suck balls” probably won’t get the changes that you desire.
Thanks to the internet, the consumer now has a greater voice than ever before. Companies should know how you feel about a product and if you are displeased you (more or less) have a direct complaint line. People work hard for their money and should enjoy what they purchase with discretionary funding. Just keep it cogent and clean lest your helpful suggestion will seem little more than the ranting of a pocky-filled troglodyte.
I remember the issue of Amazing Spider-Man that made me quit: Amazing Spider-Man #262 (it’s a photo cover issue with someone taking a picture of an actor changing into a Spider-Man costume). I had been buying and collecting Amazing Spider-Man from around issue #160.
Why did I quit? After Roger Stern’s brilliant run I found Tom DeFalco’s issues lacklustre (although I still like 252-261 quite a bit, especially the Mary Jane issue where she tells us about her past). 262 was some inventory story they had been saving for a rainy day and it was pretty boring, I just decided it was time to move on to books I enjoyed.
I would not return to the title as a regular reader again (although I did get the Kraven’s Last Hunt issues 292-293) until Amazing Spider-Man #298 when Todd jumped over from Incredible Hulk (which I had been enjoying). I went back and picked up the missing 36 issues later that week and realized I didn’t miss much.
I would stick with Amazing for at least another 2 decades after 298… through a relaunch, the JMS years and so on. I think I just stopped caring about the book shortly after the Brand New Day relaunch (after Gwen Stacy’s relationship with Norman Osborn and Mephisto erasing Peter’s marriage to Mary Jane I’d had enough, like most I was shell-shocked). I opted to read ASM as a trade if the creative team merited it, but eventually stopped doing that.
I have been enjoying Superior Spider-Man quite a bit though.
It is possible that my collecting really found me at the right place right time with ASM. That is, I just happened to start picking it up just before McFarlane started on the book. And once I had been grabbing it month after month for decades, even the stupidity of Mephisto and Brand New Day didn’t dissuade me.
But what is your favourite book, Kev? And have you always collected it?
Amazing Spider-Man was my favourite book, but I’ve subsequently put the majority of my collection out for sale and become indifferent to it at times.
The one comic I stuck with month after month without ever stopping until it was completed was Cerebus the Aardvark. I still have my full run, and for years I was missing one issue (#5) which I ended up buying directly from Dave after the 3rd Paradise con.
I do follow a lot of other titles in different formats like, say Walking Dead and Invincible.
ASM was always my go-to book. I used to walk down to the corner store in High School and pick it up. I got away from it at issue #400 (death of Aunt May). By that time the clone saga got everything really confused and I stopped reading it. I didn’t get back into Spidey until I read #692. From there I’ve tried to work backwards to Brand New Day. Now I am a Spidey fan again. I really like what Dan Slott has done with the character, and it will be interesting to see where Superior goes.
The one title I have bought regularly has been G.I. Joe. When Devil’s Due and Image brought back G.I. Joe in 2001 I have picked up every issue. I’ve also picked up every issue of the Marvel run, either through rummaging through back issue bins or picking up collected trades.
Not every issue of G.I. Joe has been amazing, but I keep buying it just because it is what it is. It’s almost like there is that small piece in the back of your brain telling you that you are not a true fan, unless you buy them all. No matter what, through thick or thin you are going to support the brand. I guess that’s why there are Pittsburgh Pirates and Maple Leafs fans out there.
Gave up buying every issue of any book long ago. I try to keep up with what’s coming and if I like it I’ll buy it. Buying the run-of-the-mill issue is just too much of a waste of money for me; particularly at $4.
It’s almost like there is that small piece in the back of your brain telling you that you are not a true fan, unless you buy them all.
Yeah, the Christians used to say this to me all the time… “You’re not a true follower Charlie unless you go to Church every Sunday.” Then I discovered that the small piece in the back of my brain was implanted there by the marketing department at Marvel so I had it removed. I kept going and disconnected my TV and phone as well. After over 40 years of being shackled, I’m finally free from Bell and Rogers, and loving it.
I love this movie and comic very much..Peter Parker played awesome role…
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