I’m Bored With Frank Sinatra’s New LP, I’m Bored With Exposes Of LSD

The most common refrain being heard from comics reviewers on the internet at the moment is that they’re bored or burned out with comics – something I’ve felt myself for much of the last year. I’ve simply had little to say about most of the comics I read.

It’s not that there aren’t good comics being published all the time, but I think the nature of the internet itself makes it difficult to write about them.

The problem is, most of the stuff that seems to be considered good at the moment is being published in graphic novel format – Asterios Polyp, Parker, whatever. This is a HUGE problem for comic bloggers.

Comics blogs are set up for instantaneous reaction – Adventures Of Spectacular Heroman #675 comes out on Wednesday, and by Saturday at the latest anyone who’s remotely interested knows what Jog and Tucker Stone and the Mindless Ones and Tom Spurgeon and whoever think of it. And that’s perfect for the 22-page floppy comic. Give me a genuinely interesting, good-quality 22-page superhero floppy, and I can knock out a thousand words for you by lunchtime. For that matter, give me a terrible 22-page floppy and I can do *two* thousand words on why it’s so bad by the time I’m on my first coffee of the day.

But give me ten, or fifty, or a hundred times that length, and I’m at a loss. I first read Jaka’s Story nearly six years ago (and last read it two years ago – I lent it to a friend I don’t see very often) and I’m *still* finding new stuff in there. Watchmen came out twenty-five years ago, and we only started to see the beginnings of an intelligent critical response to it last year, with Rilstone’s astonishing Who Sent The Sentinels? (the best piece of comics criticism ever written, for my money).

And not only are graphic novels a much longer-term proposition – I would probably expect any work *really worth reading* to settle in my brain for at least a year before I was ready to talk about the subtleties of it – but even an instant reaction won’t be of interest to many people. If you review the latest issue of Booster Gold, you can be sure that pretty much everyone who is ever going to read that comic bought it on the day it came out. On the other hand, even though I’m certain they’re both masterpieces from everything I’ve read, I’ve only just ordered Asterios Polyp and haven’t yet ordered Parker – these are books that will be available for years or decades, and cost a lot more than the impulse purchase of floppies.

So everything about the comics blog is geared up to be NOW! NOW! NOW! mass-market floppies or nothing.

It’s probably no surprise that the rise of comics blogs was simultaneous with one of the comparatively interesting periods in superhero comics. While Infinite Crisis itself was awful, a lot of the stuff DC was doing around it was interesting – the All-Star titles, Seven Soldiers, and especially 52 gave a general air of excitement to their titles (which the appaling Countdown managed effectively to disperse). 52 and Seven Soldiers in particular meant that for a long time there were huge mega-narratives being released piecemeal – ideal for speculation and discussion, while also being genuinely good (or in the case of Seven Soldiers excellent) comics.

The last couple of years, though, have been bad ones from this point of view. Last year, there were only four series of pamphlet-comics published about which I could find anything intelligent to say – Detective Comics, Batman & Robin, Seaguy and Wednesday Comics. And the majority of what there was to say about those was about the art – and most comic bloggers, myself included, are far happier talking about words than pictures.

I do think that this will change – the periodical comics industry goes through phases, and if nothing else Multiversity and The Return Of Bruce Wayne will give us things to talk about this year – but for right now I think the best comics ‘blogging’ will be taking place in ‘zine format. I’m looking forward to the Mindless Ones’ ‘zine (my own contribution to it isn’t up to much, I’m afraid, but I hope to be asked to do better next time) and PEP! has some great comics writing in it too.

I just hope though that by this time next year the big complaint is that there have been so many exciting superhero pamphlets that no-one’s had time for the big art comics…

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6 Responses to I’m Bored With Frank Sinatra’s New LP, I’m Bored With Exposes Of LSD

  1. I don’t know that I can agree with very much of this post, and I hope that this comment doesn’t come across as nitpicking. Even the beginning, with “The most common refrain being heard from comics reviewers on the internet at the moment”– there’s me, Geoff Klock, Chad Nevett, Tim Callahan, Jeff Lester, Abhay, and… who else? That’s a pretty small pool. But, that’s minor, I’d rather talk about the meat and potatoes, so to speak.

    I genuinely don’t understand your point about the comics blog being geared toward the immediate present, if only due to personal experience. I spent part of 2009 writing about Ann Nocenti (and her comics from 15-20ish years ago), Frank Miller’s DKSA, Adam Warren’s career, old Garth Ennis books… I wrote about “current events,” for lack of a better term, too, but I’d be willing to bet cash money that a significant portion of 4l!’s output was over books that are at least five years old. The What If countdown is one of our most popular bits, and Gavin’s Venom series is also pretty big. There is nothing stopping a writer from writing about things other than current events. If it’s well written, or interesting, people pay attention.

    The Asterios Polyp review/analysis roll-out happened over a few weeks, maybe just over a month, from gushing praise to cynical rollback. The discovery of Pluto has rippled through the blogosphere like a wave since Matthew Brady’s review back on release and gushing praise following pretty much every month thereafter.

    In short, no one’s going “Oh, this is old, why didn’t you review this months ago?” I examined solanin almost a year to the day after it came out, Tucker and Jog spent years looking at Humanoids books. Where’d you get this idea from? Nothing about the comics blog as a format is geared up to be about mass-market floppies or nothing. It’s flexible enough for almost anything. I can bang out eight thousand words on why Flex Mentallo matters one day and then the next day could be a funny animated gif from the X-Men cartoon and neither would be out of place.

    Your latter point, about the rise of blogs, interesting periods in superhero comics, and then a lull– I don’t agree with that, either. When current events got boring, I found something else to talk about, whether it was manga or old comics. I think everyone did. We’ve never had to search for great comics, and 2009 felt like one great book after another. There’s always something worth examining.

    How many writers are doing zines right now?

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Doesn’t come off as nitpicking at all…

      I agree to an extent, but certainly for myself, I’ve found that the only time comics posts get any kind of significant level of interest is when talking about the newest, latest thing (and the only time they get a significant amount of *traffic* (as opposed to interest from those who do read) is when they mention Batman). There are exceptions – your site is one, and David Allison’s posts about The Filth have been another – but in general I find that when someone (not just myself) writes about anything more than, say, a month old, no matter how well they write about it, it doesn’t get noticed. I loved that post series by Tucker and Jog, but I don’t remember it getting many comments (of course, now I’ll look back and see each post had twelve million comments, but *as I recall* it went almost unnoticed) compared to, say, Comics Of The Weak on Tucker’s site.

      And yes, we all find something else to talk about – old comics, or in my case for a while just more things other than comics – but the six you name are definitely not the only ones who’ve said things to that effect. I’ve had similar sentiments from various people in chats, and I know Sean Witzke got very irritated today at the number of posts on this topic he’s seen.

      As for the number of writers doing zines, I don’t know – I suspect quite a lot are putting them together though. When I contacted the Mindless Ones about some of them doing stuff for my one, they told me they’d just started planning their own, and I know Witzke, Pillock, David A and a few others have been involved with both mine and theirs and had been talking about doing the same kind of things themselves. I would be very surprised if a large number more *didn’t* come out over the coming months…

  2. Zom says:

    Our zine experiment might prove to be very short lived. We shall see…

  3. Zom says:

    Oh the first one will definitely surface sometime soon, but whether we’ll do a second or not remains to be seen

  4. Jr says:

    Don’t think that I will smile at it I’m not a weak willed hypocrite I’ll Sayyyyyy, I’m bored

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