Sunday, September 02, 2007

Burnout--Or Just End Of Summer Blues?

I've been reading various blogs and comics sites where people have been complaining about (or at least discussing) "event fatigue" and "comic book burnout" lately.

I can totally sympathize. I've been an avid comic book reader for over 20 years, and except for a one-month stretch in my late teenage years, I've been going to my local comics shop (depending on where I lived at the time) every Wednesday or Thursday to get my latest comic book fix. It seemed that everytime I started to drift out of comics, something new pulled me back in:

In the mid to late 1980s, Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, Crisis and the reboot of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman (I'm going to count Year: One as a reboot--you may disagree), as well as the plethora of mythology-rich Marvel Handbooks and Who's Who issues, got me hooked on comics, deeply, but when the monthly stuff--Byrne leaving Superman, Perez shifting to just a writer on Wonder Woman, the stuff like Batman: Year Three and everything that followed for a while, seemingly everything at Marvel--became more and more bland, I became more interested in stuff like Grendel, Nexus, back-issues of Starslayer, Grimjack, and American Flagg. I read many of the Fantagraphics line, and whatever else the Comics Journal deemed worthy of a look.

The early 1990s brought Image, of course, and I was all for it. Even back then, I had eclectic taste, and I loved Hate and Eightball and Mister X and Puma Blues, but I also loved Liefeld's New Mutants, McFarlane's Spider-Man, and Lee's X-Men. So, like everyone else, I followed them happily and bought everything Image came out with during that first year or so. Just when I got sick of that stuff, which didn't take long, Vertigo came along with great stuff like Enigma, The Invisibles, and, my favorite at the time: Sandman. I didn't realize how much I had abandoned mainstream superhero comics, post-early-Image, but as I'm rereading Morrison's JLA run, I look at the house ads and I don't have ANY of those issues. "Millenium Giants"? No clue what that was about. And the same goes for Marvel. I don't really know anything about the Clone Saga, for example, except what I've read on Wikipedia, which seems to be more than enough. But Vertigo, and an occasional Tundra or Slave Labor comic (Madman! The Jam!) along with a Dark Horse issue or twenty (Concrete! Sin City! Hellboy!) sustained me throughout the decade. People often complain about the awfuless of...ugh...90s comics. They always say "ugh," right before "90s," and I'm sure they're right, in their own way, but I didn't read that stuff. My 90s was full of great comics by amazing creators.

In the 2000s, the mainstream superheroes sucked me back in. Hard. It's probably all Quesada's fault. I started picking up the Marvel Knights titles. Then I started getting more and more of the "regular" Marvel books and more DC titles besides just the Vertigo and Morrison or Millar stuff. Then, with Infinite Crisis looming and a Civil War on the horizon, I started buying almost everything from both companies. I wasn't interested in the crossover ideas necessarily, but both companies were bringing in more and more interesting talent to work on the titles. They both seemed to value the writer more and more, and say what you will about Bendis, or Johns, or Millar, or Ellis, or Morrison, or Brubaker, but they bring a strong personal style to their work, and I devoured it. And I've stuck with them for the past half a decade. I've read all the big events, and all the small spin-offs. I've read Veitch and Edwards Question and Smith and Dodson's Spider-Man/Black Cat and Morrison and Quitely's All-Star Superman and Bendis and Bagley's Ultimate Spider-Man. And everything in between. And as disappointing as some of those series were, I've loved a lot of the comics each and every week.

But now, as we head toward the fourth quarter of 2007, I'm getting kind of sick of it all. Maybe it's the weak crop of titles last week, maybe it's the relentless mediocrity (at best) of Countdown. Maybe it's the long wait for the next comic book with art by Frank Quitely. Maybe it's too many weeks in a row with the volume set to 11. Maybe it's the end of summer and time for me to get back to my real job.

I don't know. But "comics burnout"? Yeah, I feel it. "Event Fatigue"? Yup. I'm nowhere near ready to "quit" comics, or stop my weekly trips to the store. But I'm a bit less enthusiastic. A bit more hesitant to shell out money on the single issues.

I wonder what's going to come along and save me this time.


Timothy Callahan said...

By the way, I think the answer might be: Matt Fraction.

James said...

That was totally going to be my comment.

Marc Caputo said...

Fraction's very good - but if he's going to be the next big thing, he's going to have to be given the reins to some of the high ticket items.
I also am a Fantagraphics fan from waaaaaayy back - check out my little love letter to them:

Marc Caputo said...

That didn't translate too well - just go to the blog and it's the third one down.