Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dear Marvel Comics: Why I Quit Collecting Comics

Dear Marvel Comics,

A little while ago, I quit collecting comic books after a lifetime of being a loyal Marvel Comics reader, collector, and fan. Don't get me wrong: I still love the comic book medium and even the Marvel characters. I just had to made the decision to walk away. This decision wasn't made lightly and much thought was put into it before it before I quit. After all, this was a 30+ year habit I walked away from. At the height of my collecting I was spending over $300 a month. Here are the reasons I walked away:

1) The cost. I'm sorry - $3.99 for a new Marvel comic is ridiculous. Combine this with the sheer number of appearances most characters make in a month (I believe Spider-Man is averaging somewhere around 15-18 appearances a month). Marvel goes from one massive crossover to the next that, of course, involve ALL of the main characters. This equals dozens of additional titles. I think somebody should be able to read Spider-Man - ALL of the Spider-Man appearances in a month for WAY less than $60, say, perhaps $20. Aftter awhile, you start to think what else you could be spending that money on. That's a lot of novels or DVDs or... whatever. It's clear to me that where story and characters once were primary, Marvel now just puts out comics and mega-events just to make as much money as humanly possible. Sorry, Marvel. I'm not your ATM anymore.

The shame!
2) The disrespect. I've read some really horrible stories in my time, but lately it just seems that Marvel is in it for the sheer shock value. "Let's kill Captain America or the Human Torch. Why? Well, that will attract attention and sell comic books!" They don't respect the fans and they don't respect the characters. The storyline that REALLY pushed me over the edge was Spider-Man's Brand New Day in which good ol' Spidey makes a literal deal with the literal devil to wipe his own marriage from the existence of reality. Goodbye, 30 years of continuity! Then, to rub salt in the wounds, Marvel has the audacity to try to "make it all better" by explaining how horrendous things are in One Moment in Time. I'm tired of seeing decades of continuity discarded to make a character new, fresh, exciting, and attractive to new readers. How about keeping the readers you have now? I understand comic book companies are just that - a company that is out to make money. I guess I just decided that I couldn't help a company that so treats the characters I love with contempt make money by doing so

Every boy, sooner or later, must put away his toys
and become a man. Wise words, Pete!
Bottom line? In my opinion, comic books are a dying industry and they're not doing themselves any favors by trying to milk the fans dry with an inferior product. The average age of comic book readers has done nothing but go up since the mid 80's. Why? Kids like the comic book heroes but can't afford to buy comic books anymore because they're too expensive.

Marvel, you may have lost me for good. After spending some time away from comics, strangely, I don't miss them nearly as much as I thought I would. But if you ever hope to get me back you need to do two things:

1) Make the hobby affordable again. I don't carry what quality paper the comic is printed on. Cut costs, stuff every issue full of ads, and sell new comics for $1.50.
2) Respect your fans. Only put out high quality comics and only do crossovers on occassion as warranted by the story, not when you want to goose sales.
3) Treat the characters with respect, starting with restoring Spider-Man's marriage and 30 years of Spider-Man continuity.

Do those things and I MAY give you a second chance. MAYBE.



1 comment:

  1. 18-35. That is basically what it comes down to. No matter the medium, the entertainment companies target that 18-35 year old market. I have never been as passionate about comic books as you, but I can relate to your pain.

    For me, it was professional wrestling. Larger than life characters like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Jake the Snake, the Undertaker, the Ultimate Warrior. These were my superheroes. I've seen the industry evolve over the years from the "golden age" to the New Generation, to the Attitude Era, etc. So I am certainly not opposed to change.

    I'll be 39 soon, and I can honestly say that the WWE (practically the only game in town) has been unwatchable for the last 5-6 years. I don't get it. John Cena, Randy Orton, Dolf Ziggler, The Miz. They all seem so 1-dimensional. Nothing about them is unique, enthralling or captivating. Yet WWE continues on. Kids are buying their shirts, arenas are still packed 24,000 strong a week. Wrestlemania's are still PPV juggernauts. So what's going on?

    The simple fact is the WWE is targeting that 18-35 year old demograph, much in the same way that Marvel seems to be targeting a demograph that you are either outside of, or close to it.

    Wrestling, comic books, our song remains the same. We feel betrayed, even cheated. We hold ourselves up to them claiming to be lifelong fans and supporters and what not, and expect to be compensated for our years of faithfulness. As much as we wish they would "do things like before", the harsh reality is they won't. They're looking for a new fanbase, not wanting to cater to a fanbase who continues to age and eventually die. No, we're disregarded. We are the First Wives Club of our respected entertainment companies. Sadly, they owe us nothing. Sure, we're allowed to come along for the ride, if we're willing to tolerate the directions their going. But we can't make them go home again.