The response was both immediate and thought provoking and it was interesting to see why these other bloggers, whom I read and respect, buy the books they do.
Armed with the responses of my peers, I've put together a five part series of guest posts spotlighting each blogger's reasons. Today's post marks the third part and is brought to you by Kristina Wright, more wildly known as GirlFridayK on her own blog, Geeked, and also works in a comic shop. Feel free to read the previous answers from Greg Hatcher, of Comics Should Be Good!, and Lee Newman, of Broken Frontier fame.
Why Do I Buy Certain Comic Books?
Kirk sent me an email and asked the question, "Why do you buy the books you do?" and accompanied that with an awesome invitation to write this guest post so I can give his readers a glimpse of the inner workings of my fine, female comic book store-working, blog writing mind, which comes up against dozens of books a week, and tell them why some get to be the lucky ones and why others don't (or, at least, this is how I prefer to translate the request, leave me my delusions).
I sat on down and worked on figuring it out – how hard can it be, answering that question? I know why I’m buying the books I do. Don't I?
I'm an art fan, I'm a writer fan, I may sometimes be entirely swayed by a particularly shiny cover. My genre interests are widespread and varied – I like stories. Don't you?A little harder than I'd thought, or, at least, harder to do concisely – there are so many reasons that play into whether or not I buy a book. I like the indie books just as much as I like the mainstream books (though, I’m not certain if anything in comics can be referred to as strictly 'mainstream', but for the purposes of this essay, humor me).
I’m an art fan, I'm a writer fan, I may sometimes be entirely swayed by a particularly shiny cover. My genre interests are widespread and varied – I like stories. Don't you?
I like all sorts of stories, from Jesus battling zombies to a strip joint magician and his rabbit and all the way over to anything where shit goes 'Boom' and people in spandex go 'Pow'. Anything creepy, anything absurd and original and clever. Like a worm making a home in a corpse. Anything that may make you think about what our media is really up to, and then give you a hard time debating whether or not to cheer on certain characters.*
I’ll pick up a book that may not particularly interest me if it’s a writer I’ve liked before.Primarily, though, I think I’d classify myself – if pressed – as a writer/artist supporter – I'll pick up a book that may not particularly interest me if it's a writer I've liked before. They'll get a fair shot from me, based on their previous work. My distaste for Brand New Day is widespread, but I picked up that first Phil Jimenez issue because he's an amazing artist and a great guy. I might not care for the story, but a look at the panels from someone whose work I admire will make the book that much more dynamic and engaging for me. I feel compelled to grab it, but I'm pretty sure not to grab any issues that aren't his.
Most of the time, I've found this loyalty works out for the best, like with Burn whose second issue never would have found its way home with me if it hadn't been Camilla D'Errico's art and story. But I grabbed it out of loyalty and was happily surprised at the good turn of things after a rocky first issue.
Finding a creator whose interest lay right where mine do is a nine times out of ten guarantee that the buy will be worth it. Steve Niles brings his genre with him wherever he goes, so I know that even when he slides over to DC, he'll be bringing something to the super hero table that I can sink my horror-loving teeth into. Gail Simone will be awesome wherever she goes, and where Gail goes, so goes Geeked.
I have a hard time letting go of something I’ve been collecting.Occasionally, it's series loyalty – even when I'm finding the current arc or arcs unsatisfying - I have a hard time letting go of something I've been collecting. Like JLA right now or Batman and the Outsiders. Maybe it's a bit of collector's OCD, because I know that I'll flip through my storage boxes later and be driven a little nuts by thirteen missing issues, even if I know those thirteen issues are useless. I have to have been collecting a book for a while before feeling beholden to it though. That said, I still dropped Teen Titans during this current writer.
If reviewers or bloggers I read and like spend eight paragraphs on a book in an attempt to explain how awesome it is, I’ll snag it to check it out. I can be a good lemming like that.I do, also, know that if reviewers or bloggers I read and like spend eight paragraphs on a book in an attempt to explain how awesome it is, I'll snag it to check it out. I can be a good lemming like that.
New books are different from all this – new books don’t have an artist / writer loyalty from me and clearly no series loyalty, so I'll be honest here - I read almost everything that's new. I'll eye it in Previews and make a note if it looks super-awesome, but no matter how awesome it looks, or doesn't look, I’ll pick it up and check it out. It's the 'support the littler guys' theory of things, because breaking into comics is damn hard and if they've gone so far as to get a book on the shelves, I'm pretty sure I can spare the attention to read at least the first issue to see what's what.
Sometimes this works out, sometimes it doesn’t – but a bad indie book is always better, in my opinion, than a bad Marvel or DC book. Go figure.
Kirk also posed, bless his Canadian heart, “What makes you not buy a book?” Haha. This is a much simpler answer – or, at least, has a lot less variables mucking up the equation. Shitty writing (bad dialogue, horrid characterizations, terrible plot lines) make me not buy them. I'll reference Titans here, as well as Teen Titans (God, they're just not having a good year, are they?) and the first issue of Batgirl. I'll pause to say DC is my favorite of the two huge companies, but it’s currently a love-hate sort of thing.
As I like to fantasize about being a writer myself, I tend to be harder on them than I am on artists. I can't draw and while I have no problems finding good art when I see it, unless it's really, really not to my taste, I have a harder time criticizing something I can't do. One day I'll post a picture of my stick figures on my blog to example this point. If the art on an issue is less-than-favorable, I'll let it slide a bit before deciding to drop it. And by 'a bit' I mean 'six months'. Bad writing, though? Not so much.
There’s series loyalty and then there’s masochism. I’m very much more of a sadist kind of woman.It took me two issues to drop Teen Titans - the self-insertions and characterization so shoddy it made my eye twitch plus an extremely annoying, extremely obvious plot line - I've found Sean McKeever's writing completely lack luster and unsatisfying. Mind you, this is a book I've gotten since the inception. I love these little bastards. And will love them again when a new writer hits it. There’s series loyalty and then there's masochism. I'm very much more of a sadist kind of woman.
Titans took me one issue – I only got the second to make fun of it some more, woe to the wallet that lost over my 'wit'. Don’t hand me a book filled with making awesome, strong female characters look and act more like they belong more in a porn rag than they do in a comic book. And don't make Cyborg, who should be one of the awesomest awesome that ever did awesome characters ever look like a complete idiot in a hover chair.
Was that concise? Probably not at all, but I did manage to keep the swearing down to a minimum. Good job me, and thanks for reading my opinions.
*In case you missed it, the books I referenced are: Jesus Hates Zombies, Charlatan Ball, anything super hero worth its salt (oh, let’s throw in an 'Especially Image Super Heroes' here, since right now? They really are where it's at, trust me), Wormwood and finally, The Nightly News.