Robot 6

The Middle Ground #113 | No escape

Does anyone else get comics guilt? You know, that feeling you have when everyone’s talking about a particular comic or creator and they’re all excited about them and you know that either (a) you’ve never read what they’re talking about, (b) you have read what they’re talking about and didn’t get it/like it, or (c) you literally have no idea what they’re talking about and want to ask if they’re making it up but they’re all acting like you know exactly what it is and it’d be embarrassing and you should really know and doesn’t this make you a bad comic fan and oh, God.

Me, I get comics guilt all the time. A lot of that falls to my seemingly-inherent desire to find a reason to feel guilty in the most unlikely of places, of course – I was asked by someone, earlier today, whether I had read “all the comics” because I knew so much about a particular comic book, and my instinctive reaction was to think to myself “I’ve not! I’ve not read all the comics! I have failed!” and gnash my metaphorical teeth together in shame, which should give you an idea about how bad of a problem this is for me – but I’m also placing the blame on the weird “common wisdom” that invades pop culture in general and comic culture in particular. Somehow, certain books end up with “buzz” and become must-read tomes accepted as such by the masses, and it’s never quite clear how that’s happened. It’s not always sales, and it’s no always quality, and sometimes, it’s neither (I could point to specific titles here, but that seems particularly cruel), but these books end up with a particular cache that, by the time you actually read them, your expectations are so high that the reality can only disappoint, and the only question is how much it does.

In a sop to these forces that I don’t quite understand, I found myself reading the first years of a couple of horrendously buzzed about indie books for the first time this weekend; I’d found collections at the library and figured that, what the hell? Even if I hated them, all I really would’ve spent was the time it’d taken to read them, and at least this way I would have a better idea of what everyone was talking about when they raved about these two particular books. (And, no, of course I’m not going to name them; what, you think I want to open myself to even more ridicule than I already do?) The problem was, I’d heard friends and fandom in general sing the praises of these two series for so long that, even trying to internally downgrade my expectations failed; I found the two series continually fall short of what I’d wanted from them, at almost every turn.

It’s my own fault, really; I forgot that there’s a reason why following your particular comic bliss is a good idea, especially when compared to trying to keep up with things that seem so outside your interest/comfort zone just because everyone else is doing it. That’s never going to get rid of comics guilt; at best, it’s just a way of exchanging one form for another. Obviously, there’s only one thing to do, one singular way to end this cycle. Clearly, it’s time to stop reading all comics.



I get none of that kind of comics guilt–I always admit that my knowledge base is still a “work-in-progress”.

Nah, I don’t get comics guilt, but I do end up feeling confused at times.
And I’ll go ahead and open myself to any ridicule: The Goon. I just do not understand the buzz behind it. Even some people’s whose opinions on comics I respect list it as “must read ongoings” and I just think, “really?”
But, y’know, good for those people that enjoy them and good for Powell for any success he achieves, but I just don’t get it.

Jake Earlewine

July 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I have more than 150 long-boxes full of comics and ten tall bookshelves of hardback collections, including what I consider to be every great comic book ever made — or at least the archives/masterworks version of them. I’m an authority on great comic books, and after 45 years of devoted and diligent study, I know more about comics than most people who are working in the industry. So no guilt there…

The only guilt I have about comics is when I foolishly buy crappy comics. I did have a lot of guilt for continuing for years to buy Avengers-related titles after Bendis ruined them. It made me ask myself, “Gosh, Jake! Would you buy a garbage bag full of rotting food and soiled diapers just because somebody slapped an Avengers logo on it?” That self-awareness helped me drop most of Marvel’s line. Which wasn’t easy, after a lifetime addiction.

I would REALLY be feeling guilty if I was still buying DC comics after their god-awful reboot…

As a lover of Alan Moore there’s a LOT of his works I’ve yet to digest and it shames me greatly. This is especially true of his Swamp Thing run which I’ve started collecting in trade. I go crazy about JUST getting to Robinson’s Starman as well. And there’s a lot of Image books I’m trade waiting right now, which I want to do monthly and be in the latest issue convos, but yeah…post grad budget.

sandwich eater

July 24, 2012 at 9:53 pm

I really think that there’s no reason to feel guilty. Sometimes my tastes will align with the internet hive-mind and sometimes they won’t, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Simon DelMonte

July 25, 2012 at 1:03 am

I never feel guilty about not liking something that everyone else loves. I just get confused that everyone else loves it and I think it’s dull, or just okay, or vulgar. But my opinions are my own and totally valid.

I only have so much money and so much space in my apartment. There are, of course, a number of Independent titles and collections that I would like to get to read, but hopefully the opportunities will present themselves at some point in the future. I bought a number of excellent graphic novels over the last few years that I only recently found the time to read within the last two or three months…

While it was unfortunate they spent so much time gathering dust before I could get to them, I’m glad I waited until I had the time to devote my full attention to them.

On my list of books I have yet to buy that I really want to is the big Starstruck omnibus by Elaine Lee & Michael Kaluta. That one I do feel guilty about, because I waited years for someone to collect all of that material together, but now that it is in one collection, I just keep putting it off. Hopefully before the end of this year I’ll purchase it.

By the way, all of the graphic novels I wrote about in my blog entry are very good, and you should feel guilty if you do not check them out :)

I don’t feel guilty about comics I don’t like. If anything–and this usually has less to do with style and more to do with, bluntly, Marvel and DC characters being written as jerks or nasty people or even just plain villains (see also: Civil War)–I find myself wondering what code of ethics some writers, editors, or in some cases readers, follow. (I’ve had some genuinely creepy conversations online in which people bring up Nietzsche as if he is something remotely positive. *shudder*) At that point I have to step back and trust that, as human beings, they’re probably better than their claimed philosophy, and try very very hard to not be a judgmental asshole, but when formerly heroic characters are written in ways that I would consider really, really wrong–scarily close to real-world wrongdoing that I wish political leaders would go on trial for–then it’s really hard to wonder what the hell the writers are trying to do, and why they want to do it by making certain good guys into bad guys.

(Yes, Civil War still creeps me out if I think about it. So I happily leave it in the past for the most part. But now DC’s been making some of their characters into jerks or worse, and I don’t feel any guilt for being displeased with that. Why people want a Hal Jordan that blows away torsos, or a kill-happy Wonder Woman, or murderous Amazons in “Paradise” Island, I HAVE NO EARTHLY IDEA, but I feel no guilt for thinking that this state of affairs is troubling and sad, and hoping it gets better next reboot.)

Jake Earlewine

July 26, 2012 at 3:40 am

Civil War still creeps me out, too, David. Almost as much as Avengers Disassembled.

I’m also dismayed when writers turn Batman into some high-tech SUPER-hero, like in the movies where he drives a tank instead of a Batmobile. Don’t these writers like Batman, the dark night detective? Why do they have to turn him into something else?

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