With comics, what makes you say “okay, that’s enough”?
Green Lantern and Garth Ennis are responsible for very different comics; bloggers Tom Spurgeon and Tim O’Neil are two very different writers. Yet in recent days, both have posted about how they’ve reached their limit with comics about/by the aforementioned individuals — for very different reasons. And they’ve written some thought-provoking things about that tipping point where you decide “You know what? This comic isn’t for me anymore” in the process.
First up is Spurgeon, who in linking to Charles Hatfield’s negative review of Geoff Johns’s Green Lantern-starring opus Blackest Night said he hasn’t even read the series yet, simply because he has no interest in ever reading a comic about Green Lantern again. Says Spurgeon:
I firmly believe I’ve read my lifetime’s allotment of Green Lantern stories the same way I’ve seen my lifetime’s allotment of Becker and sat through more than enough South Pacific and never again should have to listen to anything by Bon Jovi.
I’ve heard Spurge talk about other superhero characters in similar terms before. If I’m reading him correctly, it’s not that he read anything particularly noxious or stupid or off-putting, any more than he had a traumatic Becker experience — it’s just that he feels he reached the point where he’s gotten whatever there is he’s going to get out of the Green Lantern character and concept and feels no need to go back to the well for diminishing returns.
Tim O’Neil, on the other hand, hasn’t simply had his fill of Garth Ennis comics — he’s recently read one that filled him with such loathing for the writer’s approach that it’s made him question his enjoyment of nearly every Ennis book he’s ever read. The comic in question is Herogasm, the sequence that did the trick (which is reprinted at the link) involves a talkative prostitute who spills her life story only to have it thrown back in her face when the man with whom she’s chatting threatens to murder her, and O’Neil’s take on it is this:
I don’t know if I can put my finger on exactly why this one scene was the tipping point for me, all I can say is that as soon as I finished this comic I felt a strong urge to never read another Ennis comic again. It seemed gratuitous – more than merely, say, a villain being villainous to prove his villainy, it seemed like just one more example of really horrible people saying really horrible things to each other, humiliating other people for no reason other than to allow us, the paying audience, to watch the fireworks….His comics just seem mean to me now, and its the kind of petty, unjustified meanness that makes me want to rethink my engagement with all his work, not just the rapidly diminishing returns of his last few years.
So you ask why I don’t like Ennis? Ultimately, I’m not really looking for an engagement or critical discussion: I no longer believe his work merits serious thought. If you add up everything he’s done since around 2000 it doesn’t add up to one tiny fraction of the worth of his 90s work. It’s grotesque and hysterical and frankly repulsive.
It’s not a question of having read his lifetime allotment of Ennis’s mordant superhero parodies, it’s a question of having become so disgusted with them that what once seemed like strengths have become weaknesses in his eyes.
Whether through an outraged falling-out like O’Neil’s or a simple realization that we’re kinda tired of something like Spurgeon’s, we’ve probably all permanently dropped a comic, a character, or a creator we once got something out of. My question for you is, What was it, and what did it? Did you outgrow a superhero you once loved? Did you see an ugly side to a writer you once admired? Or on the flipside, did you read a story so good about a particular character or topic that you feel a definitive statement has been made and you need read no further? Hit the comments and let us know!