Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rokk from Rokk's Comic Book Revolution on Why He Buys Certain Comic Books

Last week, I asked several comic book related bloggers the simple question, "Why do you buy certain comic books?", with a list of possible reasons to help spark some debate, such as whether or not the writer, artist or publisher makes a difference.

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 is the fourth part and is brought to you by Rokk, whom you can read comic book reviews from every week at Rokk's Comic Book Revolution. Feel free to read the previous answers from Greg Hatcher (Comics Should Be Good!), Lee Newman (Broken Frontier) and Kristina Wright (Geeked).

Today, Rokk, who reviews comics every week at his blog, Rokk's Comic Book Revolution, answers my question on why he buys certain comics.

Why Do I Buy Certain Comic Books?
by Rokk

A good read is a good read regardless of the publisher.  
One aspect that has never factored into my decision making process to purchase a comic book or not is the publisher of a certain comic book. I could care less if it a title is published by Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, etc. A good read is a good read regardless of the publisher. I have never understood the entire Marvel versus DC mindset. To me it is akin to a person stating that they only watch television shows on NBC and would never watch a show on ABC. Or like a person stating that they only watch movies from MGM Studios and no other movie studio.

Having said that, I am absolutely guilty of being Marvel and DC centric. I do not read nearly enough comic books from the various independent presses like I should. Part of that is because I grew up with the 616 Universe and the DC Multiverse.

I remember that the first comic books that I ever purchased were two Marvel three-packs. You could see the covers to two of the three issues in the three-pack, but not the third one sandwiched in the middle. And you know what that means. The third issue hidden in the middle was always some wretched issue that Marvel could not unload anywhere else.

Nostalgia is a powerful force in my comic book reading habits.  
One of the three-packs displayed a Fantastic Four issue on one side and a Spider-Man issue on the other side. The second three-pack displayed an issue of Iron Man on one side and an issue of the Hulk on the other side. When I opened up the two three-packs the two hidden issues were The Two Gun Kid and Dazzler. I have to admit that I actually liked the issue of the Two Gun Kid.

Without a doubt, nostalgia is a powerful force in my comic book reading habits and DC and Marvel’s characters will always appeal to me more than characters from other publishers. Still, there are so many excellent comic books being published by independent presses. This is a weakness of mine and I really need to start sampling more titles outside of what Marvel and DC publish.

I do read Brubaker’s Criminal and a few other non-super hero titles, but as a general rule I have little interest in a comic book that does not deal with super heroes.  

Now, I will admit that I do have a massive preference for super hero comic books. Will I sample comic books from some other genres? Yes. But, they do not make up a significant portion of my comic book diet. I do read Ed Brubaker’s Criminal and a few other non-super hero titles, but as a general rule I have little interest in a comic book that does not deal with super heroes.

Now, I mentioned above that nostalgia is a powerful factor in why I purchase certain titles. And it is another weakness of mine that I will stick with a title out of nostalgia and a sense of loyalty even though the title has become practically unreadable. This occurred in the mid 1990’s with the X-Men. It also occurred with the Legion of Super Heroes during the TMK Legion and the DnA Legion. And most recently with what is currently going on with Amazing Spider-Man.

I have such strong bonds from my childhood with these characters that I cannot bring myself to drop these titles.  
I kept buying the X-Men and the Legion of Super Heroes out of a sense of obligation. And I am currently purchasing Amazing Spider-Man and a couple of other titles purely out of a sense of obligation. I hate that I do this, but I just cannot seem to help myself. I have such strong bonds from my childhood with these characters that I cannot bring myself to drop these titles.

However, despite all of these various factors that play into my comic book purchasing tendencies, the fact remains that writing is still the single most important factor in my decision to purchase a comic book. In my eyes, a title rises and falls with the quality of the writing. If a title is well written then I will purchase it regardless of the publisher or the quality of artwork.

Writing is still the single most important factor in my decision to purchase a comic book.  
I am completely writer centric. To me, the heart and soul of a comic book is the writing and the artwork is merely eye candy. Now, I certainly do not mean to diminish the impact that a talented artist can have on a comic book. A great artist can allow a writer’s story to practically leap off the page at the reader. A good artist can also properly convey the emotions and mood of the writer’s story.

Still, in the end, for me, the writing takes priority over the artwork. I can stick with a title like X-Factor that constantly rotates artists and often has some poor artwork because Peter David’s story is so well crafted. I loved Grant Morrison’s Animal Man despite the fact that the artwork was completely pedestrian. However, I simply cannot spend my money on a title that has “hot” artwork but has a thin story with weak writing. To me, great artwork is just a bonus.

And that leads me to another point in what induces me to purchase a comic book. While I am loyal to certain characters and will purchase their title regardless of how poor the writing is or not, I will also purchase titles based on the writer alone even if the title centers on a character that I have never liked before.

There are various comic books that I read simply because I love the writer. And once the writer leaves the comic book I stop purchasing it.   
Captain America is a good example of this pattern of mine. I have never even remotely liked Captain America at any point in my comic book reading life. However, when Ed Brubaker began writing Captain America, I immediately started purchasing this title. And once Ed Brubaker leaves Captain America I will probably go ahead and stop purchasing the title. There are various comic books that I read simply because I love the writer. And once the writer leaves the comic book I stop purchasing it.

Of course, I will also rely on recommendations from friends about certain comic books to try. I have several friends who are intelligent readers and I trust their opinions when it comes to comic books. I also will rely on comic book reviews. There are plenty of insightful and smartly written comic book reviews on the internet that can be quite helpful when deciding on whether or not to purchase a certain comic book.

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Andrenn said...

Another great post, these are all very cool.

He has a point about characters that he grew up with. I'm the same way with Spawn. I just have too big of a history with the title to ever drop it.

The Matrix Has You said...

I religiously read Rokk's blog but I must admit that there is very little that we read that is the same.

Since I've gotten into NaNoWriMo and novel writing, I have switched to primarily a writing based search but I am also loyal to certain characters. Unlike Rokk, however, art will instantly turn me away from a title if it sucks. For instance, I can't stand Jeff Purves' art (personal preference), which actually made me stop collecting Incredible Hulk while he was on it.

I don't really care for the DC/Marvel war, either, but I'm noticing Marvel's direction is something that I don't find interesting so I'm more interested in DC's titles right now.

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