I Just wanted to drop a quick note to thank you, Steven, for your column from June 6 (and many other columns previous).
I'm in my early 30s and have been a comics fan since I was a child. I'm currently an editor at a well known magazine in NY and make my way to Midtown Comics once every two or three weeks to drop $40 or $50 on whatever interests me. It's usually 80% DC/Marvel, I don't have much long-term attraction to certain characters or writers. I just buy whatever title I'm currently reading, whatever tugs at my sense of nostalgia, or maybe I'll try a title or graphic novel that I've heard something good about. More often than not I'm largely disappointed by what I pick up... and I continually feel that the only sense of satiation comes in the form of sentimentalism: "Ah... I remember when my mom drove me to three different comics shops helping me hunt down as many of Kirby's Black Panther run as I could find. Go get 'em B.P."
I call him B.P.
Knowing the little I do about the comics industry... I've always had this question at the back of my mind... and please tell me if my logic is flawed... but why does the industry run itself like some kind of self-contained ecosystem? Example: The same writers getting assignment after assignment. Churning out books barely distinguishable from books they just finished? At my magazine... we get together once every few weeks and pitch the stories we've received from writers... it's rare that the writer's name alone will get us to assign something unless it's attached to a pitch with some promise. And often writers who have never written for us will write amazing pitches we can't ignore. I'm not suggesting that would be a better system or even applicable. And I know marketing, quantity over quality, etc. play a part. And maybe it's the economics of the business and no one can make enough money writing one title... so they give them three or four titles so they can afford a new Honda. But I'm truly baffled by some of what ends up on the shelf... by some of what... in the end... I wind up spending money on.
It's odd. No other hobby of mine leaves me feeling so often annoyed and so rarely thrilled. Yet... after a few weeks the swelling has gone down and the sting is a memory and I'm lining up to drop $50 on Omega Flight (god help me... but I really want it to be readable) and some graphic novel someone told me I absolutely need to read (hint: I don't). Sometimes I feel like the next time I want to buy comics I should just start reading Lone Wolf & Cub from the beginning again. I'll have more fun and save $50. And I can't imagine that's what any industry wants its fans to be pondering.
Ha! Now I see how you can turn out so much text in your columns. I could be at this all night and I know this has barely touched the issue. Anyway... Thanks for calling attention to the mediocrity of the products the industry as a whole is producing. I love comics... and I believe in them as a genuine art form... I just wish they would get a handle on quality control.