I started reading comics five years ago give or take, it was around the time the Dark Knight was released. I remember because there was a big hoopla over the Watchmen movie, it being based on one of the mediums greatest achievements. Five years ago though i was a different person. That sense of joy of leaving high school for college, that cynicism which told me people sucked but film, books, art, and comics...oh comics...they were better than that. Media couldn't disappoint you, just people.
Its been five years though and disappoint me they have. All that hope in a new form of media, that glee i took in trying to find a new Kubrick has all dissipated. I remember reading Transmetropilation after being told it was like Hunter S Thompson and being so excited, four years later i now realize its not the same...Warren Ellis isn't Hunter he's just a veiled imitation like so many others. It just took me four years before my blinders towards comics wore off.
I moved a majority of my comics into my attic recently, to free up some space in my room. I had filled five book shelves, with piles of books stacked throughout the house. And that was just over the course of five years. I ended up whittling it down to two shelves. Two shelves of books i wanted to have constant access to. Two shelves i was proud to display in my room. The problem though is those two shelves are made up solely of books I've purchased over the past year. Four years and three shelves worth of trades, singles, anthologies, graphic novels, are to me little more than bound paper now.
I know no one starts reading by being handed Ulysses, but by high school your teachers have at least forced you to read a couple Shakespeare plays and spark notes your way through The Scarlett Letter. So why is it that comics starts you with Dr. Seuss and graduates you to the Hardy Boys. Comics as a community, with the exception of a few critics, actively dissuades you from branching outwards. If you go on any message board or forum and ask for recommendations, the lists generated are so nauseatingly bad if i were to start reading in my present mindset i would brush off the medium as a whole after a days reading. People actively argue that Green Lantern is a better comic than Watchmen for new readers.
Some may invoke the "99% of stuff is shit" principle here, a solid point. But I'm speaking precisely towards that 1% which is so ardently held up as "great". Those three shelves of books i deemed ancillary, those were the books held up as the 1% amongst the mainstream. Those runs "comics people" call definitive the Y the Last Mans, the Walking Dead's, Blankets, those runs by and large are terrible.
If Jason Aarons run on Punisher MAX has taught us anything, its that their is no such thing as a "definitive run" just a lack of talent to out due what has come before you. And if there is one thing comics has, its a lack of talent, even in its definitive form.
And for four fucking years i read this trash with self imposed blinders on, oh after a while i knew it was bad, no one reads a Geoff Johns comic for a extended period of time without the sneaking suspicion this guy has no clue what writing is beyond yelling and splash pages, but i thought i just didn't get it. Look at the top 10 comics list for 2011 for any website and it will read like a fourth graders favorite book list, books that verge on competency are labelled magnum opus's . When the community as a whole holds up Daredevil and Habibi as the best they can achieve in a year, I have serious doubts about that community.
When I talk to someone who's into movies the conversation is never about Transformers, its about Kubrick, Hitchcock, Kurosawa. Likewise with television its about Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire. But with comics its about who's hotter Black Canary or Supergirl. I wish for the day i come across someone who wants to talk about Ware, Hernandez, Clowes, but i doubt that will ever happen.
I remember asking the guy at my shop if they had Love and Rockets New Stories v4 when it was released, I was told they only special order those books*. That's the industry and culture comics is forced to pander to. Its not that good comics don't exist, people are pushing the medium forward every day, its just that no one is bothering to notice. Comics as a whole has not been able to move past their initial honeymoon period with the medium and finally realize that bitch has a lazy eye and my god do you hate her mother. This year though has been mine... i just hope other people wake up to.
K I'm out of wine and don't care anymore. This is disjointed as fuck but whatever, I'm going to go to go read some Milo Manara comics and try to find some whiskey while the comics zeitgeist jerks off to Power Girl's cleavage.
*Keep in mind i live 5 minutes outside a major city and my shop is next to a busy train/bus stop.