Sean has been reading comics, watching movies, reading books and selling his soul (or at least his hearing) to Rock’n’Roll for as long as he can remember. He has been discussing and arguing about these things for almost as long.
It takes all kinds, right? Sure, but there’s a limit to everyone’s tolerance. Last week I was reading Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort’s Formspring feed, and I saw one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen in fandom. (Despite following some of the Before Watchmen “debate”.) Some poster, anonymous of course, made the following threat: “If you don’t do a better job I will rape your wife with a rusty blade and make you watch. Then I will cut out her eyes and make you eat them”. I am not exaggerating this in any way at all. You can tell it’s a direct quote because I didn’t add the necessary punctuation. Here’s a link: http://www.formspring.me/TomBrevoort/q/327804198370427135
Now I don’t care if you love Marvel and the job Tom and team are doing, or if you hate them. This is completely out of line and uncalled for. Recently Dan Slott, who writes Amazing Spider-Man, closed down his formspring because someone had obtained his personal phone number and other information and was threatening to post it if the book didn’t go the way he wanted. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE!? These books are supposed to be fun escapism. Sometimes they can tell a serious, relevant story but it is ink on a page people. I can get into a long-winded, passionate discussion (fine, call it an argument) about most any comic book character. However, I would never tell Dan Didio that I was going to assault and murder his wife because Wally West is absent from the “DCnu”. Even though I am quite angry about that as a fan, I know that sometimes these things happen. I think it was the great Mark Gruenwald I’m about to paraphrase or outright misquote here, but I believe he said: “Give the fans what they want, not what they think they want.” Not every effort is going to please every fan. That’s just the way it is. A writer or editor’s job is to create the best book they can, tell the best story they can. A great artist doesn’t get great by trying to figure out what people want and spoon feeding it to them. When they do we accuse them of pandering. Great art, story, music, film, etc does not come from following a formula. It comes from following your heart and doing what you want to do. Most interviews with the best musicians, filmmakers, writers, artists after creating something wonderful and widely loved, all end pretty much the same way. “Well, we were just trying to do something we would enjoy and put our all into it and made it the best that we could.”
To bring this back around to the original point: why do fans shit on everyone who works so hard at entertaining them? If you do not like a certain writer or artist’s output, don’t buy it. The problem arises from our obsession with unbroken runs. I had every issue of Uncanny X-Men from 1991on and a couple times I almost dropped the book because of quality. I couldn’t bring myself to do it because I didn’t want to break the run in my collection. Eventually I grew up and got over that. Some people love the characters or teams SO MUCH that they can’t drop the book. No matter how much they hate the direction the book has taken. What they don’t seem to understand is that in this situation the problem is not the people producing the book. It is the readers’ fault. They stop being readers and become collectors. Worse, they become addicts, but one person’s hell as a reader is another’s perfect book. There are apparently quite a few people who cannot wait for Bendis to leave the Avengers books. Personally, I have only regularly collected Avengers twice in my life. When Busiek and Perez were on it in the nineties, and Bendis’ current run. You don’t like the books? DON’T BUY THEM! Whining, moaning and threatening violence don’t make publishers change teams. Lack of sales does though. With the exception of some Bat books and Action Comics I won’t be regularly giving any money to DC (buying G.I. Combat because Dan Panosian is a great guy and a great penciller). I will not be threatening them, bullying them or asking them snarky questions at Cons. They simply will not get my money. Just like, despite the amazing talent involved, my X-Men habit will not be including the First X-Men. I won’t be threatening Neal Adams, and frankly he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy you want to threaten anyway. I just won’t buy his book. So please fandom, stop being so ugly about these things. It’s good to love something, it’s good to be passionate, but when your girlfriend or boyfriend treats you poorly you should just walk away. Why should we be more obsessive about paper and ink than we are about the real world?
Maybe I’m being to logical and mature about it. Maybe I’m wrong. Feel free to let me know what you think. But let’s keep it civil folks.
Sean Stoltey, writer, raconteur and retired rabble rouser, hails originally from California’s Central Coast but currently resides in Southern California’s BEAUTIFUL–San Fernando Valley. Screenwriter, Comic Book author, these are things he does because he’s too poor to be a Producer or Publisher.
So now he has come here to throw his opinions in your face as well and hope that, even if you don’t agree, hopefully you will enjoy them. For the record: Kirk was the greatest Enterprise Captain, Han was the only one that shot, Led Zeppelin was the greatest Rock band to walk the Earth and Keith Richards is the coolest undead person to walk the Earth. Coolest living people are my sons and my Mom and Dad. My Dad F—in’ rocks, and my Mom can kick your ass.
You can ask Sean anything at http://www.formspring.me/WWest3001 contact him via twitter @WWest3001 or boring old e-mail at SeanStoltey@yahoo.com