Saturday, March 23, 2013

Growing up, after all these years... Maybe

One of the hallmarks of my life, as I compare it to other people my age, is that I haven't "grown up" yet. Oh, I have held a job consistently since I left school. I have a mortgage, 2 car payments, a family. Still, I have held on to some tenets of youth that I have refused to give up... until now. (or have I? You can see I'm still struggling)

For those of you who know me well, you'll know that a passion of mine throughout my life has been comic books. There's just something about the comic format that draws me to it. I love the way a story is told with static images and a few word balloons. I've read at least 1 comic title monthly for as long as I can remember; mostly, it was Amazing Spider-Man, and at times, (and when financially feasible) I have picked up as many as 20 different books a month. That's not counting trade paperbacks, graphic novels, or whatever you want to call the book format that is becoming increasingly popular. Most of my reading has been Marvel Comics, although I have flirted with Batman and Superman books from time to time. Over the last few years I've tried to keep my monthly pulls (that's a comic geek term for "pull list," books which your local comic shop - mine is Dewayne's World in Kingsport - "pulls" your favorite books off the rack and keeps them in the back for you, so that when you come in to pick them up there's no chance of it being sold out) around 5 or so. Almost 2 years ago, and with a lot of soul-searching, I dropped Amazing Spider-Man after basically 30 years of reading it.

Today, I read a couple of titles that are reminiscent of my youth: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers. I also read The Rocketeer, although that is not currently an ongoing monthly book. These are good books, and enjoyable to read - shouldn't comics be enjoyable? Let me introduce you to the real problem: the comics I grew up reading and loving aren't fun and enjoyable anymore. They have to be "dark" and the characters are basically altered to fit whatever mood the publisher is currently promoting. When I was a child, how I dreamed of one day seeing Spider-Man in a movie, actually swinging between buildings in the New York skyline and climbing walls. The concept of a movie like The Avengers, wherein I would actually see more than one hero on screen, was so abstract that I just assumed I would never live to see it.

Now that I have seen those things, I feel less connected to the comics those ideas sprang from than ever; not that they were bad films (the last 2 Spider-Man movies not withstanding). On the contrary, Spider-Man 2 made me so happy and warm inside that I saw it 5 times in the theater. I enjoyed all the Marvel films leading up to last summer's Avengers; during The Avengers, I literally had to hold back screams of delight as the 10 year old in my heart cried with joy at the realization of his fantasies. So why, in a time when super heroes, Marvel comic books and "geek culture" are at their zenith, am I unhappy?

I wish I could tell you. I have examined multiple reasons:

  • I'm jumping off to avoid the band-wagoners that have jumped on
  • I'm growing up, and as an adult I'm just not that interested anymore
  • I'm the kind of person who jumps from one interest to another, and this is just a "down phase" for me with comics
  • the industry doesn't want me to keep reading because I, as a demographic, worry too much about silly things like "continuity" and "character consistency" so they have directed the books away from my likes and interests.
I could write (and probably will sometime) an entire post just on the problems I see within the comic business now, but this post is not for that. I'd really like to know what's behind my gradual change in attitude toward what has been my only hobby all these years. One of the reasons I started this blog was to help myself talk through these things, like journaling; hopefully, I will get some feedback that makes me think, examine, and work through some of the junk floating in my head.

Thanks for reading.

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