mtthwclmnt said: Was it difficult to quit the big 2? do you miss reading the books ever?
It was, wasn’t, and isn’t.
I’d already tapped out of DC before I made my decision and well before I wrote that big essay, and my Marvel books were basically…I think it was whatever Zeb Wells, Marjorie Liu, Jeff Parker, and Greg Rucka were working on, plus random issues that had artists I liked? I think Ennis had bailed by that point, though they announced Fury MAX so quickly after I quit a lesser man might’ve taken it as a personal slight. (To say I’d been looking forward to it is an understatement.)
Here’s why it wasn’t difficult: Two of those folks do work elsewhere, and while I liked their Marvel work, I generally like folks non-cape comics more than their cape comics. (Weird exception: Warren Ellis, whose writing on Ultimate Fantastic Four with one of the Kuberts was very remarkable.) I didn’t do a 1:1 replacement, but I knew I could get things from people I liked elsewhere, and I hoped the others would branch out to non-cape stuff, too. (Wells and Liu are—shhh, lean in real quick, streets is talking—two of the best writers to grace a Marvel comic.)
When I quit, I didn’t make a plan or even think about it beyond “I should do thi—WHOOPS did it.” I still don’t know if Vertigo “counts,” for instance, or Icon. But I looked at it like this: if I saw something that made me want to throw dollars at either of the Big Two, like if they announced Absolute The Winter Men or something, I’d put some real thought to delineating what I was allowed to buy. But I didn’t and they didn’t, so I didn’t!
I didn’t even bother figuring out where comps or freebies factored in to the embargo. I eventually decided that nobody has to follow my dumb personal rules, so if somebody gives me something, I’d take it instead of throwing it back in their face with a lecture like a stereotype of a Berkeley progressive. “Why be a jerk?” was my motto, I guess.
Here’s why it was difficult: I read and enjoyed Marvels, and to a much lesser extent DCs, since I learned how to read. I was twenty-eight when I consciously decided to quit. That’s about twenny three years of inertia to overcome. I didn’t magically stop liking their comics or the characters or the creators (I’ve probably written more about Jim Lee X-Men post-quitting than anybody who’s still reading cape comics) and my curiosity is on par with my guilty conscience in terms of having a debilitating effect on my life.
Basically, I quit doing something while surrounded by people who still do that thing. And that’s not a good recipe, especially when your friends are expert-level hilarious comics recappers. So I spent more time thinking about the comics, and getting caught up on what happened in them, than I really should have. I was still plugged in, to an extent, and that was confusing. My writing suffered—it’s easy to write when paying close attention to the Big Two, less easy to learn how to talk about other comics—and a lot of this coincided with unrelated depression settling in around me like a warm blanket that smells like your crush and realizing I had to fire my boss.
The comics thing seems small in comparison, because it’s just some dumb ol’ tights’n’fights. But they’d been a dependable through-line for me for what’s basically my entire life that I could feel the hole, or at least feel the dysfunction between quitting them and still thinking about them.
Like…I don’t eat pork. I quit swine in ‘99. I could tear up some porkchops and bacon as a kid, but it wasn’t a struggle to quit pork. I don’t think back like “man, remember how good that porkchop was back in ‘97, second week a May?” But I do that with Spider-Man—the Return of the Goblin arc, his first meeting with Luke Cage, that time Betty Brant said something nice about him and he was like “Dang, i never noticed her before, but she’s cute AND she’s on my side” like a doggone teenaged idiot, Mary Jane going Sibyl to get a soap opera job and dodging stalkers…I can recite it chapter and verse. So cold turkey wasn’t really an option, or rather, I wasn’t in a position where cold turkey was feasible.
Changing those habits is hard, which leads me to why it isn’t difficult to stay away from the Big Two: I changed my habits. I don’t go to comics shops on Wednesday any more. My pull list withered and died. I don’t read comics news sites when I can help it. I found other things. You could probably correlate my rising interest in talking about music with my increasing disappointment with comics as a whole.
I read other comics now, basically, and the further I get from the Big Two, the easier it is. The guilt and frustration that fueled me giving up have given way to apathy and disappointment. I hear summaries of recent events in comics I once loved and it’s like I woke up in Ancient Sumeria for all the sense it makes to me.
I don’t care. I don’t mean that in the dismissive sense, a “who cares?” type of way. I mean it very literally: I no longer care what happens to Spider-Man. I’m still curious about a few things (the black characters, pretty much, and the creators I enjoy), but in terms of keeping up, keeping track, paying attention, entertaining the idea of going back: nah, I’m good. I grew past it and it’s not for me any more. It’s for somebody else. And that’s cool. Win/win.
There’s occasionally a project that sounds pretty swift or interesting, but I experience it second hand. Kaare Andrews’ Iron Fist is the most recent I think, since I like both names in that phrase a whole lot. Stokoe on X-Men or Avengers or whatever this summer is another. But overall, the amount of time I spend reminiscing or being tempted is miniscule. On to the next one.
I still know a lot and I like to jaw, though, so I still talk about this stuff with my friends. I think I’ve made my peace with that—not buying their books or seeing their movies doesn’t mean that I have to retroactively forget how wild it was when Magneto showed up at funeral and Colossus was like “Uh, I’ma go with him…” or how sad Mary Jane waiting for Spidey in Kraven’s Last Hunt was. That’s culture, essentially, and my embargo is due to commerce.
I’m still figuring out the edges and rules of this embargo, but I feel good about it. I don’t mess with the comics or movies, and that makes me less inclined to mess with the video games and shirts and such. The less I do it, the less I want it.
Also I started buying vinyl and various root beers and bottled sodas, so I couldn’t afford to go back if I wanted to.
This was a good question. I might have to clean my answer up and post it on 4l! next week.