Monday, January 3, 2011

Reader Question - Do You Want Letter Pages?

DC has just announced on their blog that all of their comics in the near future will feature a letters page. They are inviting everyone to contribute letters via old fashioned snail mail, or through their website. At the time, it is unclear if it will just be one single letter page column published uniformly across all of their titles (like the current DC Nation column) or if it each individual title will have their own column.

The bigger question is, how much do readers care for letter pages in this day and age, where there are plenty of blogs and forums where they can discuss their thoughts the same week they get their comics (as opposed to the two or three months it takes for a letter to be printed). Once a staple of the comic industry, the letters page is not as commonly seen nowadays, though some titles such as Amazing Spider-Man, and particularly indie books like The Walking Dead, still feature them.

So we are opening the floor to hear what you have to say: do you like letter columns? Are you happy to have them back? Let us know in the comment section below.


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23 comments:

Max Barnard said...

Honestly, I can take or leave the current Marvel ones, which are either weirdly dismissive or just highlight some of the more unpleasant attitudes from fans and editors. Though saying that Avengers Academy and Fantastic Four's letter pages please me.

As for the upcoming DC ones... Well I'm happy that I'll have the chance to send big sloppy love letters to Judd Winick and Bryan Q. Miller for their work at present, so I'm all down for that. Time will tell whether they're as damaging as Marvel's can be in execution though.

Anonymous said...

Well yeah why do you think cbr still does cup of Joe

Ivan said...

I'm cool with it. Letter pages are usually very low on snark while still containing some points of view that don't necessarily mesh with the companies'.

John & Ron said...

I'm stoked for it. I realize it's not as impactful as it was back in the 80's and 90's, but it's still fun and gives a good sense of community in an industry where fans really put an emphasis on comic readers being a community. I'm all for it.

Jikorijo said...

I do want letter pages. They're a lot of fun and they're comments from fans that can be discussed with the makers of the book.

Emir said...

I actually felt so strongly about this I had to write a blog post of my own. Hope you don't mind me putting a tiny little link right here: http://url.ba/aylb

In other words, I love the letters pages. :)

sdelmonte said...

I used to be a pretty successful letterhack. Not TM Maple, but a regular presence in a lot of DC books, mainly Captain Atom and Starman. I liked writing letters, liked seeing my name in print, and liked reading other people's thoughts.

Thing is, when DC ended the letter column, I understood why. We can read people's opinions about comics 24/7 now. And we don't need editors to pick a handful of thoughts.

And yet...I do miss them. I like seeing them in Buffy and in some Marvel books. I am glad they are coming back, even if I suspect they won't be chosen for anything other than praise.

Still not sure I will come out of retirement to write some just yet, though.

Adam said...

Done well a letters column can add greatly to the enjoyment of a comic, at least in my opinion. The letter columns in both The Walking Dead and Invincible are great.

In some ways, they are edited versions of the web forums, which can devolve into anonymous name calling very quickly. Plus, Kirkman usually provides quality responses/commentary.

On the Marvel side of things, I would say the letters pages are much more uneventful. I don't get much enjoyment from them.

Dean said...

I wouldn't mind as long as it doesn't cut down pages or raise prices.

Logan said...

Really I think it depends on the writer. Some letter pages I like and others I dislike. On the other hand I really really hate the DC Nation page in the back so I figure anything is an improvement to that.

Eric in Ottawa said...

I would love to see the letter pages back! I've always rejected the DC's argument that the message boards render them unnecessary. Here's why:

1) Posting on a message board is absolutely not the same thing as seeing your letter printed the comic you love!

2) You can read some pretty thoughtful comments and questions in a letter page. Not that you never see that on a message board, but it's often mixed in with a lot of inflamatory remarks and trash.

3) With letter columns, you can have your question/comment acknowledged by the creative team. Most creators and editors do not participate on the message boards (though there are some exceptions like Busiek, or Gray & Palmiotti). Back to my earlier point about trollish and inflammatory posts, the message boards can be a pretty hostile place for a creative team. I remember when Jeph Loeb quit the Superman/Batman boards due to the personal attacks.

4) Letter pages allow some space for creators to make a special comment. One great example comes to mind: the last issue of Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. Geoff Johns wrote a touching letter about Stargirl was based on his younger sister who had died in a plane crash, and that the book was his tribute to her. It kinda sucks when a book ends or a creator leaves after a good run, and there's just no comment or farewell.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

I like a good letters page, and you'd be surprised how many comics are willing to publish critiquing letters.

But I like a bit of text at the back of my comics, so maybe it's just me.

I know as someone who has had a few letters published, it is different from just writing it online because if it makes the issue it means someone involved with the comic actually read it, if not the creative team then at least an editor. That's always nice.

btownlegend said...

A return to old timey comic book letters pages...bring the bullpen bulletin back!

Space Jawa said...

I may not have have missed them all that much, but I'm certainly not opposed to them making a comeback.

Anonymous said...

I have to say I have never been disappointed when I see a letter page at the end of a book. It's like a digestif.

nf said...

I love the idea. I love reading old comics and seeing what people had to say and how the responses went. I like the idea that in thirty years someone might pick up an issue and feel the same way. I think the biggest thing is that they're using real names so the tendency to be an idiot that people develop online will be less present.

Jeff said...

Yes! I want one! It's like a nice little button on the end of a comic. Nowadays, DC doesn't even mention the next issue...

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