There’s a comic debuting this week that I’ve been anxiously awaiting ever since I first heard about it. Phil Hester is bringing back the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents! (Can’t wait!)
You can easily do research on just who those people are on Google or using other search engines. However, I thought I would relay the reaction of some of the denizens of the Internet as they reacted to this news. (Names and sites are being withheld to prevent even further embarrassment!)
“What the (h-e-double-q) is T.H.U.N.D.E.R. anyway? It’s too complicated to remember!” However, this person loved that the debut of Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. on Disney XD never bothered to tell us what S.M.A.S.H. stands for.
“Stupid costumes, stupid names, stupid characters! It’s no wonder this book never lasts!”
“If Nick Spencer wrote it, it’s terrible! I didn’t read it when he wrote it, and I won’t even bother to look at it now!”
And, of course, my very favorite: “I never heard of this group! If I don’t know about it, it obviously sucks!”
This last point of view is one I bump into a lot when frequenting local comics shops. In essence, it says, “I’ve been reading comics for five whole years (since I was 8 years old)! Anything that existed before that isn’t worth the effort to find out about.”
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO “SUCK” OR “ROCK”
Now, I don’t want anyone to think I don’t like the younger, newer fans. Instead, I just find them very unintentionally entertaining at times.
Let me give you two examples.
I walked into a comics store and there were two apparently ten-year-old boys literally squealing with glee over the latest X-book. “Wolverine’s on the cover,” one went, “and he’s SWEATING!” Since they were standing about two feet away from me, I replied, “Don’t you just hate it when they get him out of character like that?” The guy behind the counter had to duck down so the kids wouldn’t see him laughing like crazy while they glared at me without a glimmer of understanding in their eyes.
Then there was the time many years ago when I was in a different store, talking with the manager about our favorite comics. In came a 12-year-old trying to look all cool. He didn’t like that we were discussing something he didn’t know about, so he interrupted. “Hey, some old guy who used to draw comics just died. I never heard of him before, but I think his name was, uh, Jack Kirby or something.”
If the store owner didn’t get between the two of us, I’d have done something I likely would have regretted … or maybe just mussed up the mousse in his hair.
I know many of us seek out fans who share our likes and dislikes. After all, that’s what friendships are often based on. But I think some of us would benefit from knowing people who instead do NOT like the same things just so we can learn that there are differing (and still valid) perspectives that others have. Thinking people still disagree at times, after all.
And this isn’t limited to younger guys and gals. I used to talk comics with a co-worker who thought there were only two kinds of comics, TV shows or movies. It either “sucked” or “rocked” in his opinion. He also universalized every conversation. “Nobody likes that show!” or “Everybody thought it rocked!” was usually how my chats with him went.
One time when I was pointing out the flaws in ABC’s Lost, he cut me off by saying, “I don’t want to talk with you about this anymore! If I do, I won’t be able to enjoy the show any longer!”
THE HUNT FOR QUALITY
One of the things I enjoy in a comics store is finding a staff who can recommend quality reads I haven’t discovered yet.
I got into The Walking Dead when a store owner I know recommended it to me. Luckily, the first trade had come out and he had the single issues that could catch me up. At first, I scoffed at this. “A zombie book … in black and white? And you say it’s actually good?” He continued to recommend it, so I bought the trade and the issues I needed. When I saw him next, I thanked him for recommending it to me. I used to joke with him that I couldn’t wait to get home to read the newest issue, so I would lay the comic on my steering wheel as I drove to work. He chided me by saying, “If you keep doing that, you’ll be one of the Walking Dead soon!”
The point I want to make is, get out of your comfort zone! The old adage that “The worst Marvel comic is better than the best DC comic” works only in an alternate universe! I seek out quality wherever it can be found, and that means I often don’t keep track of what companies I buy what from, or even how many from them I purchase each month.
Not only that, learn why it’s a good story! That way, you can tell others why they should be reading it.
There used to be a store owner who discussed what he referred to as the “Ka-ka Factor.” What he meant was, a company should be judged on how much, shall we say, garbage came out under a company name. When the “Ka-ka Factor” got above 50 percent, it was time to look elsewhere.
I can’t say I always agree with that perspective. But I have noticed that over time, some companies are getting less and less of my money than they were previously.
TELLING GOOD STORIES
When asked one time what makes for a good television show, Richard Dean Anderson, the lead actor in Stargate SG-1, said it was all about “telling good stories.” I agree with that sentiment, especially when it comes to comics.
I like to say that I’m on a relentless search for quality storytelling. When I find it, I want to share what I’ve found with others, which is why I prefer to review the books I thought were great each week. Sadly, it’s just too easy to find the books making up the “bottom of the barrel” after you’ve plunked down your hard-earned cash.
Join me in my quest, Comics Padawan! Find the best and then tell others about that comic! In the long run, both you and the comics industry will be better for it! And please check out Phil Hester’s new T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents comic! I think you’ll find it worth your time and money!