Sunday, April 10, 2005

Journey in to Mystery! (And Away From Your Comfort Zones!)

Greg's post about looking for good comics outside of the big two got me thinking. So did Paul Teel's asking me why I'd buy DC Countdown just because it was a dollar if I was expecting it to suck. These two disperate posts have me thinking that I'm not as committed to looking for good comics as I should be.

I say looking and not demanding because it's against my nature to demand anything. I'm too timid. Demanding's for Joe Rice and other scrappy linguistic brawlers of his nature. Me, I just buy what I like and ignore what I don't, because I figure that you can demand DC and Marvel to stop publishing crappy comics all you like, but your face will get pretty blue waiting for that to happen as long as they sell. So I just buy what I know I will enjoy. And that could be part of the problem. Because I'm not starying from my comfort zone much.

Sure, I consider myself discerning (unless someone throws 80 Pages for a dollar at me, damn it). I try to buy comics that I read good things about from people I respect and that sound interesting to me. I follow creators instead of characters. I try to ignore the latest glorified press release from Marvel and DC hyping their next big event. That is, unless they're being mocked by some Scottish guy.

But I'm not really scouring the back of Previews looking for hidden gems from hardworking self publishers and small press companies, either (of course, I don't scour any of Previews anymore). There's something to be said for sticking with creators who have a proven track record of doing things you enjoy. That said, at least in my case, it seems like I'm missing a lot of good comics out there simply by staying within the parameters of what I read regularly, which is mainly adventure fiction (and mainly superhero adventure fiction, at that).

That's not to say that I haven't ever broadened my horizons. I do pick up the odd indie comic, usually in trade form. I've read the standard "art comics," your Jimmy Corrigan, your Maus, your Ghost World . I like American Splendor, althought that may partially be because Harvey Pekar talks like Ben Grimm. I've enjoyed what I've read of Craig Thompson's work immensely. As you might be able to tell, I love the stories collected in Jaime Hernandez's Locas as well. Hell, there's even Blue Monday (something you could never accuse of being an art comic, unless you consider Pookas and pube burgers high art) which I love dearly.

But I still feel like I could be doing more to find good comics. It's not dissatisfaction with my regular purchases. I won't buy anything in single issues unless I enjoy it considerably, and even then, I've been known to let my monthly purchases drop off for no good reason other than not picking making it to the shop for a few weeks at a time or not asking the shop to re-order when they sell out(I'm currently a few issues behind on Sleeper, Ex Machina,BPRD, and Plastic Man, which are among my favorite comics). It's just that I'm not stepping beyond my usual fields of interest much.

One idea I've come up with is that part of voting with your dollar (something I've definitely come out in favor of on this blog) involves the willingness to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to what you want out of comics as a medium. I want for there to be a wide variety of comics out there, so if I really want to vote for my dollar, it's probably time to start giving creators, publishers, and genres I'm not familiar with a shot. Or, in other words, take a walk outside my comfort zone and see what else the medium has to offer and give comics off the beaten path the same kind of shot to win me over that Countdown did. Sampling their work might cost more, but at least I'm not likely to see Giffen JLI characters killing each other. That's a plus.


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