Spider-Man No More

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.