Or, more precisely, when did I re-become a comic book fan?
Like many Gen-Xers, the bright colors and heroic escapades of pre-1980 comics called to me from spinner racks in grocery stores and the last few lingering drug stores, a few of which even retained their soda fountains and counters. When the comics made their big shift to specialty stores, usually dingy low rent places run by men with more love of the medium than business sense, I didn’t follow them over for a full decade.
Part of that was discovering tabletop RPGs and dedicating the rare trips by Mom to the local game shop, but part of it was also that by the time I had the money and self-owned transport to get back into comics, the publishers were chasing the quick and easy collector dollars. The fun and adventure of the comics I’d fallen in love with had given way to the drab and depressing all grimdark all the time mid-90s nihilism, so I stayed away for another two decades.
I’m back, baby. In the last few months I’ve backed three comic books:
- Vox Day’s Alt*Hero – Hey, the guy pays me to read the books he publishes. Plus, he’s a great writer. Even if it takes the production a few months to find its legs, you can count on Vox’s world to be well thought out, his characters believable, and the action fun. So far, I am not disappointed.
- Cirsova’s Wild Stars III – C’mon, it’s Cirsova. The man has an eye for storytelling, for the fantastic, and for the sort of old school adventure that gets the blood pumping.
- Chuck Dixon’s Ravage! Kill All Men – Normally my media preferences lie on the PG-13 side of the scale, but lost worlds are a favorite setting of mine. And the couple of audio books written by Chuck that I voiced, a vampire novel(ahem) and a zombie novel (ahem) showed a nuance and consideration, and a flare for innovation in tired genres that allayed any fears that Ravage! might be selling titillation at the expense of storytelling.
Once they get a few more issues into the mix, I’ll be scoring Dixon’s Right Ho series as well. I just want to give them a few more months and maybe buy the trade paperback for maximum fireside reading. I might even back van Scriver’s Cyberfrog if it wasn’t so pricey. At $110,000 funded in just two days, he’ll just have to get by without me.
So what’s the deal? What brought me back in – other than the obvious charm of these independent efforts to revive a dying industry?
What else am I going to do?
Seriously – those of us following a policy of, “Don’t Give Money To People Who Hate You” are being boxed into ever tighter corners. Can’t watch TV. Can’t go to the movies. Can’t even enjoy vast swathes of tabletop gaming. (At least I still have hex and counter wargaming.) What’s left over, independent authors, can only fill so many hours. Sometimes you just need a little bite-sized entertainment. Sometimes you want somebody else to do the heavy lifting of visualizing the action for you. And thanks to the miracle of western civilization and the technology it made possible, you don’t have to suffer through films that sneer at you, through comedy shows that hate you, or through comics that insult you.
We don’t need Los Angeles. We don’t need New York City.
All we need is each other and a few brave creatives to throw their work out there. With the support of good men everywhere, we can still right this sinking ship of pop culture.