by Roger Ash
Beau Smith’s column last Friday made me think. Here’s a line in particular that really caught my attention, “It’s my ‘duty’ to myself to find, buy, and read comic books that entertain me.” I wholeheartedly agree. That’s one of the reasons that you will rarely see negative reviews of comics in my Westfield blog posts. I prefer to point you to something I like rather than away from something I don’t like. Heck, even the art I’m using in this column are from comics I enjoy. As the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Why would I want to give publicity to something I don’t like?
I know there are people who disagree with me about this. I know there are people who much prefer to tell others what not to read. If that’s what you’re into – fine. Personally, it’s not for me. In fact, the more people who tell me I shouldn’t read, watch, or listen to something, the more I want to, just to see what all the fuss is about. Or to thumb my nose at those who presume to think was is proper for me. A great example of this is when, years ago, a number of church groups said that good Christians shouldn’t read the Harry Potter novels. While I had been considering reading them, that pushed me over the line. And I’m glad I read them because it was a fun series of novels. There was absolutely nothing in the books that shook my faith, but I’m sure there are people out there who think I’m a bad Christian for reading them.
Back to the point – As Beau stated, as a reader I try to find comics that entertain me. Conversely, I’ve found I’ve had to fight the collector mentality to have a complete run of a series when I’m no longer entertained by a comic. If there’s a comic I’m not enjoying any longer, I drop it. There are plenty of other comics out there for me to choose from.
My tastes are quite varied. I still follow a few superhero comics, though not as many as I used to. I still read Marvel’s Fantastic Four and Daredevil and BOOM! Studios’ Hypernaturals is off to an intriguing start. My life-long love of animation has also led to me enjoying all ages and funny animal books like Superman Family Adventures, Usagi Yojimbo, Bone, and Snarked! There are also creators whose work I will always give a shot. While horror may not be my thing, I do enjoy Terry Moore’s work so I was more than willing to give Rachel Rising a try and I’m glad I did. I’m also enjoying many of the outstanding comic strip collections currently being publish like Berkely Breathed’s Bloom County and Outland, Pogo, Popeye, and Cartoon Monarch. And this is just scratching the surface.
What I don’t understand, and probably never will, are people who get incensed if you don’t like what they like. I realize that this is probably a very small percentage of fans, but they are very vocal and the internet seems to draw them out. I would be surprised if you’ve never encountered someone like this before. The fan who is willing to call you every name in the book simply because you don’t like their favorite comic. Or the fan who will ridicule you mercilessly because you like something they don’t. Did you know that a film critic who posted an early negative review of The Dark Knight Rises received death threats? You can read about it here. Death threats over a movie review? What the hell?!
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t disagree with each other. After all, to paraphrase an old saying, “opinions are like butts, everybody has one.” But that’s all it is; an opinion. Going back to Beau Smith’s statement, readers are supposed to find what entertains them, and that may not be the same as what entertains you. So disagree, but be civil about it. Does it change your opinion about a comic if a reviewer doesn’t like it and you do? I certainly hope not. If a comic brought you joy, no one and no reviewer can take that away from you.
So find comics you like and share them with others. In fact, I encourage you to share some of your favorite comics in the comments section. Who knows, someone may try them and they’ll become a new favorite of theirs as well.
Now, go read a comic!