Thursday, February 22, 2007

Responses to that open letter

Kevin Church meme watch: Over at the Hurting, Tim O'Neil makes a couple of worthwhile points in rebutting Church's "quit buying stupid comics, stupid" rant. First, he suggests that sticking with a comic through bad times is sort of like sticking with your team through the bad times. It's an interesting analogy, but I'm not entirely convinced. For most readers, "following" a bad comic still entails spending money on it, whereas fans of the Celtics can follow the team by watching them on television or reading about them in the paper/on the internet. Furthermore, O'Neil is neglecting the concept of the fair weather fan, people who stay home when the team is really bad (if you ever watched an Arizona Cardinals home game, you know what I mean). It's a precarious balance: by going to see a terrible team, you're effectively rewarding the franchise for its incompetence. On the other hand, if too many people stay at home, the team might re-locate. I wonder how much this affects comics readers--it seems like most of Church's rage is directed at the people who keep reading Justice League or core X-titles, neither of which are really in danger of being canceled.

O'Neil's second argument is much more compelling:

There's this idea at the back of these complaints that comics spending across the industry is somehow a zero-sum game. As much as some may protest, there is at the heart of the matter a core assumption that if people would just stop wasting money on crap they would spend their money instead on Nextwave / Casanova / Sleeper / Love & Rockets / Kramers Ergot. The consumers that makes up the majority of the audience for mainstream comics are not fans of the medium. They are fans of specific characters and concepts, as well as connoisseurs of a specific type of aesthetic experience that can only be gotten from sewrialized heroic fiction. If these characters and concepts ceased to be published, they would probably not continue to be comics readers.

That's basically the problem I see. If book publishers quit producing romance books, would fans of the genre move on to more literary fiction? I would suspect they would instead read old romance novels. Some might scan them and put them on the internet. It might even lead to a wave of amateur romance novelists who publish exclusively on the internet. So yes, I'm saying that, were Marvel and DC to quit publishing, it would just lead to more fan fiction.

O'Neil makes one final point:

You don't win any friends by berating stupid people...

Oh, I don't know about that.

Anyway, upon further reflection on this topic, I really wonder how many of the people keeping mediocre titles at the top of the sales charts are really disappointed. I'm not about to comb messge boards in an attempt to do some sort of statistical analysis, but I suspect the percentage of people complaining about, I don't know, Wolverine is like 4% of the total readership. And for all we know, those online complainers are downloading the comics rather than buying them. I do think there is some evidence to suggest that truly disatisfied readers are willing to drop titles--look at the sales trends on Uncanny X-Men, for instance, or the more recent Wolverine Origins. And really, if online comics fandom was really the vox populi, Peter David would still be writing Supergirl and Brian Bendis would be selling shoes and driving a '73 Dodge Dart.


Gre913 said...

Hey, at least Church didn't call superhero fans idiots (ADD) or tell them to drop dead (Chris Allen). Whiny tone aside, it's pretty standard fare for comic bloggers.

Dick Hyacinth said...

I'd forgotten that Allen wished death upon his enemies in that debate. I think that's what really made it spiral out of control. I check out his blog periodically, and it seems like he writes as much about Studio 60 (or whatever that show is called) and American Idol as he does comics. He also had a sort of depressing reaction to the CBR piece on Mark Waid's apartment, especially given that he watches American Idol. I can imagine few things more depressing than sitting around all alone watching that show.

I miss ADD--he added a brand of bilious unpredictability to the blogiverse. And that's why I like him better than Church, even though Church's sensibilities are probably a little closer to my own.(Personal to ADD: Come on dude, this is like the seventh time I've mentioned you. Eventually you'll have to cave in and stagger in here, wild-eyed and looking for a fight. I'll be waiting.)

Spencer Carnage said...

Ranting about stupid people who buy stupid comics is the comic bloggers bread and butter. The thing that made Church's rant better than most is that it was written pretty well. Other than that, reading it was like chewing on the same piece of gum that lost its flavor.

It interesting how many comments you get when you tell everyone to fuck off as opposed to telling them about what is good to read.

Anonymous said...

Did you know Kevin works at a comic store part-time?
The people who buy so called crap are paying his salary so he can buy his so called quality comics.

Kevin is a dick.
He tries so hard to be noticed and talked about.

Steve Ebbling.

Kevin Church said...

Steve, Steve, Steve.

Someone pointed out to me that you commented here and hey, I figure it's time I corrected you.

Did you know Kevin works at a comic store part-time?
The people who buy so called crap are paying his salary so he can buy his so called quality comics.

In the past few years, I've worked a very few hours at a local comic shop, yes. However, it's been over a year since my last shift because they've finally gotten enough staff and I'm too busy with my real job and that whole writing thing to take them up on the occasional offer. I don't even have keys to the new location.

Kevin is a dick. He tries so hard to be noticed and talked about.

If that's how you see things, that's fine. A lot of people don't seem to mind me very much, so it seems you're in the minority. But hey, most people that don't like me just find something else to do with their time besides stalk me.

I've been blogging for over five years and you're the first time I've seen anyone so dedicated to saying negative things about me. If you have any issues with me that you'd like to discuss, feel free to send me an email - .

Dick Hyacinth said...

It's heartwarming to see this blog become a refuge for stalkers of blogalaxy personalities. I do so try to give back to the community.

Anonymous said...

You're trying to come off as the 21st century Gary Groth, but with less flair.

And talent.

Hugs, Kisses, Fisting!


Kevin Church said...


Anonymous said...


Steve, you seem to be taking Kevin's notoriety and burgeoning success rather badly. I have to ask, was there something he did to you personally, or is this purely a reaction to his online hijinks and tomfoolery?

-- Josh