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 are you thankful for in the world of comics?
I don’t like Thanksgiving. For me, it is just a lot of work for very little payoff. Days of planning and shopping, hours of cooking and cleaning and the end result is fifteen awkward minutes around the dinner table while we struggle to find something profound to be thankful for followed by an additional awkward half hour eating. Then hours of cleaning and a fridge full of leftovers I won’t eat. I’m a vegetarian. I can’t even look forward to turkey.
But when I was little, and not in charge of cooking, I enjoyed it. I dressed up as a Pilgrim or, well, Pocahontas. And when it was my turn to say what I was thankful for I didn’t worry about being profound or saying the right thing. I’d say I’m thankful I found my Mickey Mouse doll or that I got a good grade in school or that my baby brother was born (which is maybe profound and most likely just right that particular year). So as much as I would like to say something truly weighty in response to this question I think instead I will pretend to be Pocahontas in New England and say simply: I am thankful Polaris is far away from both Skrulls and whatever is going on with the X-Men in…San Francisco. I can’t quite be thankful she’s in space but far away is good.
And, on a slightly more profound note: I am thankful to be a part of this blog.
Some people think digital readers are the wave of the future for comics.
Others praise the Internet for all the bargains that are just a mouse-click away. But for me, nothing will ever take the place of a good brick-and-mortar comics store. I spend enough time talking about comics online to know that a lot of places, including decent-sized towns, don’t have a good place to shop for comics. I’m lucky. In my mid-size city, I know of five well-stocked stores, and their comparative merits. (To put this in perspective, at one point in my life, I had six different library cards at the same time). One has a great browsable stock of back issues, one is easy to drive to in my lunch break, one sells used TPB’s for insanely cheap, and one. . .is a great place to get lectured by angry parents about how The Dark Knight was too violent.
None of these stores are perfect, but they all have character. Whether it was finding most of Denny O’Neill’s classic run on The Question for a buck an issue, being hit on by a teenager who tried to impress me by talking about his Deadpool action figures, or realizing that, for the first time, the hipster clerk actually thought what I was buying was cool (something that has never ever happened to me in a music store) — my experiences in all of these places have contributed to my growth as a reader. As long as these stores are around, I’ll keep buying my comics there. I’m thankful to have that opportunity.
I am by far the corniest, most unabashedly sentimental person in this group (no, really, guys, you can admit it), so I’m going to take the corniest answer, which I mean in the most honest, heartfelt way possible: I’m thankful for my friends.
Comics fandom is not an easy fandom on new readers. To know where to start, and how to put together the pieces of forty years of publication and continuity, you have two options: A.) many long, lonely hours on Wikipedia, or, B.) being initiated by other fans. If I’d been stuck with option A, I probably wouldn’t be here right now. It wouldn’t have been worth the effort. But the fact is, I did have a friend who was a comics fan, and it was he who loaned me the 300 issues I devoured in my first summer of readership. It was he who explained House of M and what the heck was up with Doop and just how many times Jean Grey had died. Other friends, meanwhile, began to share the previously unexplored depths of their own comics knowledge, bringing me up to speed on the basics of the DCU and what, exactly, a “retcon” is.
And then, when I got a little more deeply into the comics world, I met other friends, mostly on the internet, who shared my interest. Some were new fans like myself; others had been reading for years. But however we came to comics, we found a way to each other, and we’ve stuck together ever since to share all the excitement and anguish of following these characters month in and month out.
That’s how I found my way here, with my beloved Fantastic Fangirls, and I am incredibly thankful that I did. Those friendships fulfill me, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. Not even for a copy of Captain America Comics #1.
I think the single largest positive change in my comics-loving world in the last five years has been the rise of comics blogging on the internet. There’s a lot of focus in online talk about what we hate in comics. I see creators tell each other, “stay away from the forums, stay away from online reviews, stay away from fans.” And what I read online, I think they are right to say it. But that’s not the use to which I put the internet accessibility.
I love comics. I really, really do.
Writers I love or hate, artists I love or hate — these things move into and out of the comic world regularly. But the comics-blogs give me something I didn’t have last time I loved comics: access to and understanding of the creators’ minds. The interviews on iFanboy and Wordballoon, the forums on Jinxworld, Whitechapel, and Comic Book Resources — all of these things give me a chance to hear what the creators meant, to try to understand their work better. Not to mention possibly talk directly to the creators themselves. I can’t make it to a lot of conventions, and, frankly, when I can I’m one faceless fan among many. But online — which is purportedly anonymous and alienating — I can find and thank and compliment the creators I admire. I find the creators on LiveJournal, Blogspot, WordPress, the ubiquitous Twitter. I love being able to say “you made a difference to me and I appreciate all the work you do.”
What about you? What are you thankful for in the world of comics?