In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.
What’s your comics-related New Year’s resolution?
I resolve to pay more attention to creators. The other Fangirls, and everyone else I know in comics-fandom, can babble about their favorite writers and inkers and cover artists and panelists and everything else anyone is for HOURS. They have a top ten list, easy. They know who wrote and drew all their favorite and least favorite issues without pulling them out of the box. They can look at a convention guest list and pick out more than three people they want to see (or, you know, have heard of). And when they see them, they have something to say about what that person is currently working on and/or what they like best about that person’s work.
And then there’s me, who can’t do any of that. Not because I don’t appreciate all those creators’ work. I really do. But it’s useless if I can’t remember who I want to tell I appreciate their work. So my plan is to take some time with the comics I already have and love and connect issue to name (and if I get to any conventions or blogs, name to face), and going forward pay more attention.
I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about the Serenity prayer: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I wrote a post on my personal blog about applying those principles to my daily life, which sparked some conversation in the comments about what constitutes good, charitable behavior in online interactions.
What I’d like to work on this year, then, is being a better person on the Internet by applying the “Serenity/Courage/Wisdom” principles. This isn’t just about comics or fandom, but it is about comics and fandom, because that’s what I spend a lot of my online time discussing. I know this sounds a little high minded when, after all, we’re only talking about comic books. But whatever we’re talking about, it never hurts to remember, we’re talking to people. The people I interact with online — many of whom I actually met online — are some of my favorite people, and the friendships I have with them matter to me; they’re real friendships. The flipside of that is the need to acknowledge and remember that every other Twitter and blog and comment thread out there has real people behind it, too.
If I had to relate the Serenity prayer to online interactions, then, I might put it this way: Know when to shut up. (Other people’s opinions don’t exist to offend me; most of the time another person just wants to express their views, the same as I do; just because I may think they’re wrong wrong wrong doesn’t mean they’re asking me to correct them). Know when to speak up. (Some issues in popular culture need and deserve critical discussion for good reasons. A couple of pieces from the last year that I admire greatly are Linda Holmes’ open letter to Pixar and Annalee Newitz’s critique of Avatar. Agree with their specific points are not, these are valuable pieces of writing that have helped spark discussions that mattter.) And finally, make up your mind about when to bite your (cyber)tongue, and when to speak up, and don’t lie to yourself about which times are which.
I’m actually pretty happy about my comics consumption habits. I successfully fulfilled last year’s resolution, which was to read more comics beyond Marvel’s monthly new releases. In the past year, as my GoodReads can attest, I’ve read dozens of TPBs and back issues of comics old and new of all different sorts from Marvel, DC, Vertigo and Wildstorm, Image, IDW, and any number of other publishers. I read all of Y: The Last Man and Hopeless Savages, started and caught up to the current publishing of Ex Machina and DMZ, and read a big chunk of Starman. I read American Born Chinese and Pedro and Me and I Kill Giants and Sleeper and All-Star Superman and Asterios Polyp. And through it all, I continued to read Marvel’s monthly books at a rate that pleased my mind and my wallet — and even threw a few current DC books (particularly those about awesome Bat-related females) into the mix. Comics made me very happy in the past year, and I know my life is better because I read those books.
So what’s my resolution? Well, if you look at that list again, you might notice that I hardly talked about any of those things, here on FF or anywhere else on the internet beyond GoodReads. Most people probably didn’t even know I read them, or what I thought. So my resolution is to be more diligent about reviewing and analyzing the comics I read, to become a part of the greater dialogue about them. After all, why else am I here?
I resolve to stop buying comics merely because they are “good for me.” By which I mean, comics that everyone is talking about and everyone agrees are noteworthy or good. I don’t mean that I will stop buying quality comics; I merely mean I will stop buying comics for that reason alone. I have bought, flipped through, and then gotten rid of way too many comics that I am CERTAIN are good, but I just find myself not giving a care for them.
The comic has got to have something in it that I will like, some writer or character, some situation that hits my buttons. I believe all of you that Asterios Polyp is really good. But until someone describes the plot or characters in a way I know I enjoy, I’m not buying it. I may well read it, certainly, if the library carries it, but I won’t buy it until I know more.
So what about you? What’s your comics-related New Year’s resolution?