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She Has No Head! – I Have Nothing Incendiary To Say (Probably)

Hi All

I’m feeling a little burned out both as a writer and as a comics reader. Add to that the fact that the focus of this column (women in comics) is sometimes too narrow a focus for my interests. Hell, it’s kind of amazing that I’ve been able to talk about such a thing for nearly 4 years (yup, 4 year anniversary coming up in November!). On the subject of women in comics, most of the time, you need only ask, and the comics gods will provide. Still, I’m a bit exhausted. So I thought maybe we could just talk. I’ll say some things, and I’ll ask some questions, and if I’m very lucky some of you will be interested enough in what I’m talking about to talk back in the comments.

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The Walking Dead brought me back to monthly comics.

Comics burnout. Why does that happen to me? Does it happen to you guys too? For me, it’s not even that I’m not enjoying things I’m reading, it’s just that my to read pile gets bigger and bigger and I get several months behind on certain books and it starts to feel like a stressful obligation to catch up, rather than a good time. If this happens to you have you found ways to stop it from happening? Has it ever made you stop reading entirely? It did for me, a couple times. Once when I was in college (ironically, studying Sequential Art) I stopped having a monthly pull for the first time since discovering comics. But that was more about not liking my new local comic shop than reading fatigue, I guess. I had a really great shop as a teenager (run by a woman no less – woo! – shout out to Night Flight Comics!) and then an even better shop (which I wouldn’t have thought possible) when I was studying at UofA (shout out to Capt Spiffy’s – even though I don’t think it exists any more). In fact, it was taking some sequential art classes at night through Capt Spiffy’s when I was supposed to be doing my graphic design homework that eventually led me to SCAD and studying Sequential Art in earnest. I got back on the comics reading wagon in full I guess when I moved to LA after graduation, but fell off at some point and didn’t pick it back up again until my boyfriend forced me to read The Walking Dead. From there it was a slippery slope back into monthly reading. Of course sometime in that last batch I started making a living (or at least a partial one) in talking about comics, so it kind of elevated itself from love/hobby to “work”…which is perhaps not an elevation at all.

Is there something that gives you malaise about comics? If so, do you stop reading them? When/if you find your way back, what is it that draws you back?

Actually that’s maybe the MORE interesting question, what KEEPS you reading?

Hawkeye Saga

Alana and Marko’s story will have a definitive end in Vaughan and Staples “Saga,” not so for Clint Barton, he will continue on long after Matt Fraction and David Aja’s “Hawkeye” ends (or loses Fraction and Aja).

I know there’s a certain amount of habit involved for most of us — but with how much comics cost — a lot considering how quickly most comics can be read –  it’s got to be more than habit that keeps us coming back, so what is it for you? Just a general love of the medium? Intense connection to characters? I’ve been thinking about this answer a lot for myself and I’m not sure I have an answer.

Definitely I love this medium very specifically, and as a creator I both love that aspect and like to see what others are doing. But if I’m honest I don’t (generally) connect to comic characters in the same way I do with a great television show, or a great novel. There are exceptions, sure, but on the whole, characters are the things that attach me so intensely (ahem, fanatically) to something — like when I think back on Buffy The Vampire Slayer I don’t think “wow, I miss the plots!” or “I miss the action!” or even “wow I miss the sharp, funny writing!” (though I do) — rather I think “wow, I miss Buffy & crew…”  That emotional connection to characters is the tie for me, and pretty much has been as far back as I can remember–but comics rarely manage that for me, at least mainstream comics–maybe because characters change so much in comics when different writers (and to a lesser degree artists) take them over?

For example, I’m interested in Hawkeye now and never was before Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye. However, I have trouble imagining following the character outside of their book. I guess that’s yet another argument to me for comics with definitive endings. Because it’s easier for me to attach to the characters in Saga (and I enjoy doing it) because I know it will eventually have a definitive end. And that feels more like something that will satisfy me from a character arc/character development standpoint than something that has to keep coming up with new ways to re-invent the character I’m invested in.

It’s one of the many similar problems that soap operas and ongoing comics face. Comics fare better (in general, IMO) because they can fill their pages with drama, action, adventure, comedy, romance and more, whatever they want really, while soap operas mostly get whittled down to drama, romance, and sometimes if we’re lucky a dash of comedy. But action and adventure in soaps is notoriously bad. Seriously, if you haven’t seen some soap opera action scenes, check them out, TERRIBLE. In comics, action is our bread and butter, and you don’t NEED the forced drama/romantic shenanigans (so and so slept with so and so’s twin brother’s nephew’s cousin and is carrying their baby! omg!) simply to keep things interesting because being a superhero IS interesting, and you’re not relegated to just superheroes, your characters can do almost anything, whereas soaps generally don’t have that freedom and a lot of times when they TRY to step out of the box they’re stuck in they botch it horribly.

Nathan Fillion

Fillion as Joey Buchanan on One Life To Live, Fillion as Captain Mal Reynolds in the brilliant but painfully short-lived Firefly.

But I’m not trying to come down too hard on soaps, while they’re not generally to my taste as an adult (too repetitive, too saccharine), I was relatively interested in them in my formative teenage years and became terribly attached to some of the romantic pairings (I promise this is coming back around to comics, bear with me). But those romantic pairings never lasted — largely because they had to find something for these characters to do in a story that never ends and frequently that meant breaking up and putting back together the many romances. Comics has to do the same thing, constantly trying to find new ways to tell stories for a story that never ends. It’s kinda exhausting.

But the even bigger reason that my fanatic attachment to a romantic soap pairings would die is because of re-casting, which seems similar to me to a new creative team coming on board a comic book. Sure, the writers on a soap matter too, the words they choose to put in an actor’s mouth obviously matter, but it’s just hard to stay attached to say…Joey and Kelly (Nathan Fillion shout out, yo!) when Nathan Fillion needs to move on to Hollywood and not be on a soap anymore. And more power to him, and thank the gods that he did move on, cause, well, he’s amazing at everything he touches and how would we get everything from Capt Mal in Firefly/Serenity, to the best damn Dogberry I’ve ever seen, to pictures of him covered in kittens or holding bunnies? Life would definitely be worse without those things, so thank the universe he’s not still Joey Buchanan on One Life to Live (which was recently canceled anyway). But the second Fillion left that show the character became pointless to me. And I stopped watching the show entirely. I’m sure they recast him and maybe the new Joey was great, but he was no longer the character I had become attached to thanks to Fillion. Conversely, will I still be attached to Hawkeye when Matt Fraction and David Aja leave? I kinda doubt it. But of course like with Fillion, I can’t expect nor on some level do I want them to do Hawkeye forever. That would be silly. But will I abandon Clint when they leave as I abandoned Joey Buchanan? Makes me kinda sad.

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Cassandra Cain will always be my Batgirl.

I think the reason this whole “soap analogy” is coming up is because I generally don’t think of myself as a “shipper.” There are some exceptions however and I was thinking about what those exceptions were and was surprised to find no comics pairings made my list…not even close (and the only ones that even warranted a thought were from books with definitive endings). But since comics is really up there for me as a medium I adore, that surprised me. It definitely suggests to me that I have trouble attaching to those characters and their relationships in powerful ways…so what is that about if not the fact that it’s hard to hang on to something that has to constantly change and go on forever?

Do you guys have this problem at all? Am I talking crazy here? Are you able to attach to characters and/or their relationships easily in comics? Does it matter to you if the characters constantly shift due to the ongoing nature of books? Do you hold onto certain “ships” long after comics moves on? I know I do this with characters (hence my lifetime devotion to Cassandra Cain whether she’s ever in another damn comic book or not) but I can’t see myself doing it for a pairing. But I *know* there are die-hard Lois/Clark shippers out there. And more non-traditional ships like Booster Gold/Blue Beetle. If there’s a ship you’re super attached to, what made that true for you? Was it a long run of them together that solidified it? Was it some small thing that felt “right” to you whether it was erased eventually or not?

Well, I’m sure I lost a good percentage of you with the soap opera analogy, but I can’t help it, it’s been on my mind, and the comparison seems really obvious and both interesting and kind of depressing.

I was going to talk about some more things, like print versus digital, and how much consistent character voice matters to you over just reading a good/funny comic, and going to cons and what you like about it and such, but I’ve basically run out of time/space, so instead…see you next week, same bat time, same bat channel!

-Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

31 Comments

When Deadshot and Harley Quinn had sex in the New 52 Suicide Squad, I felt a pang of “But what about Jeanette from Secret Six?!”

I have never burnt out on comics, I have gone through extended periods when I could not afford them, the thrill has always remained. For the most part it is the medium itself, a comic just reaches part of my brain that nothing else does. When I was a regular buyer of monthly comics I put up with a lot of ordinary comics because the thrill of the good ones was worth the wait and the ordinary ones were some class of fun at least.
Many years ago in a bookshop I took a Savage Sword of Conan down from a rack, opened the page and fell in love and remain so to this day. Once upon a time Gail Simone wrote a piece on Conan and Hobbes which made me sob with laughter as well as reminding me why I loved Conan so much so sometimes re-casting works to refresh as much as break a connection.
That it is still possible to write a Batman comic that captures the reason why Batman is special is the extraordinary and positive side of the endless nature of comics, there is a lot of fertilizer but the roses that rise from it open a door to the thrill that is the ultimate reward for a fan.

Burnout happens when you realise the story you’re reading will never end. So, it’s not really burnout, it’s just making a conscious decision to find your own ending. That ‘bummer’ feeling is like the one you get when you go to bed early, and all your friends are still awake and you’re lying there wondering if you’re missing anything. In the morning, though, when you’re rested enough to leave early with a tummy full of bacon and eggs and a heck of a day planned, and all your tired friends can do is muster up some stale cereal and cold coffee, be comfortable in your decision.

Terrible analogies aside, comics have always been commercial art. It’s when the commercial aspect becomes more obvious than the art of it, that we must turn away.

Anything from Marvel that is so obviously controlled by edicts from above to adhere to the movie versions of characters can be kinda dull and feel like someone is trying to steal your wallet while they distract you with a fluffy toy. More of the fun, seemingly more personal comics that make like you have a direct link to the creator’s brains (like Hawkeye, FF, Young Avengers, etc) will help keep the burnout out from happening, if indeed you’re in to comics for the personal vision, and the resultant creative craziness that results from not being controlled by committee. (Like those aforementioned soulless, synergistic money traps.)

In a perfect world, those runs could go on forever, and the only thing that would change is yourself. Reading the same characters for 10 years is kind of weird. I’m nothing like I was 10 years ago. Who is? Tastes change. Stale cereal and cold coffee? Or bacon and egg time?

Terrible analogy conclusion! Yes!

Night Flight?!?! Are you from Utah too?

Yeah it happens to me too, but what keeps me buying and reading is probably a combination of the reasons you mentioned. More recently it’s following a particular creator around. Larry Hama and Kelly Sue DeConnick are two of my favorite writers so I try to keep up with whatever their latest project is simply because I know I’ll enjoy it. Ditto for artists: Amy Reeder and Alex Maleev come to mind. My wife is the same with Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen. For this reason, I find myself regularly giddy about new things on the horizon. Right now I’m anxiously awaiting Pretty Deadly, Rocket Girl, and Empire of the Dead. And the great thing about a great writer? Re-read value! If there’s nothing new out that I’m interested in and I have a hankerin’ for Kurt Busiek or something I’ll just go back and read some older stuff.

Then I have attachment to certain characters — Captain America will always be my man so I’ll continue to follow his book, though I’ve largely been disappointed with his Marvel NOW series. Rick Remender stretched what would have worked well as a 3-5 issue arc to 12 issues, and try as I might, I just ain’t a fan of John Romita Jr’s art. I’ve always been an Avengers fans and while I haven’t enjoyed Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers, I was pleasantly surprised by Remender’s Uncanny Avengers (and KSD’s Assemble, of course). And as a side note, this is why I’m not big into the Fraction/Aja Hawkeye book. My wife loves it and I read them after her, but being a longtime Avengers reader, I see a big difference in Fraction’s Hawkeye vs. the Hawkeye I’ve been reading for the past however many years. I like the book, it’s a really good comic, but it just doesn’t feel like Hawkeye. Like, you could swap out the main character with some joe and it would still be a well-written, well-drawn book about some joe.

And one last thing that keeps me reading: women in comics. This sounds hokey but it’s true — partly because of the Three Chicks end-of-year podcast, partly because of this blog, and partly because I got tired of feeling like I was reading the same plots over and over again — but I’ve started looking for women (writer, artist, and/or this main character) when I’m picking up a new book. This has led me to some great gems that otherwise would have not even caught my eye. And so for the past several months my pull list has included Lazarus, Captain Marvel, Fearless Defenders, Wake, Batwoman and Journey Into Mystery (sadly, that one got canned). With Saga we’ve been picking up the trades as they come out.

It’s an interesting set of questions. I think part of it depends on how much you identify with characters vs. how much you identify with writers. There are I have to admit, characters I will always be sort of interested in no matter how much I’ve been burned. Moon Knight for example, or Alpha Flight.

On the other hand Green Arrow was on that list once, and boy has he fallen off after years of bad writing of him.

I want to say “Just follow the Writer/Artists you are interested in. If they are on form, than even writing a character you aren’t interested in can produce good results.” But that doesn’t always work either – we’ve all seen runs truncated or ruined by editorial evil or crossoveritis.

I guess I’m mostly looking for a well told complete story – I want to feel like they are going someplace and once they get their we’ll be done – You don’t get that a lot in Superhero comics – on the other hand in something like Saga or Chew or East of West I am fairly confident they are going someplace.

@El Bryanto
East of West is fantastic, one of my favorite books out there now. Each issue is better than the last. It’s so refreshing to follow a book like that!

When my backlog becomes too large and I stop enjoying the new stuff I’ve read, I read an old classic that I enjoy. That usually energizes me to push on and finish my current pile.

I’ve burned out several times on NEW comics, yes, but as long as I have my old library, I’ll never give up the hobby.

“That emotional connection to characters is the tie for me, ”

I agree totally and that’s why Stephanie Brown is my Batgirl. Not that my comic book world doesn’t have enough room for Cass’s time as Batgirl…unlike DC who threw their histories into limbo. Grrrrr.

But while I haven’t had extreme reading fatigue with comics, I did ditch on all my Green Lanters comics recently. I’ve been thinking about it a long time prior to Geoff’s finish because it simple wasn’t fun anymore. I wanted it to be fun and hoped it would be but it never came. The last I enjoyed it was Sinestro’s run as a Green Lantern and Kyle becoming a White Lantern. I think that’s because it was more focused on individual stories for me. Green Lantern is plagued with crossovers and that is what made me ditch them.

As for pairings, I kind of lean toward Barry Allen and Iris West. When the rebooted time thanks to Flashpoint…I was upset that Barry was single again and not going out with Iris. Barry was always such a nice boy-next-door type and not having with Iris made me worry they were going to do something stupid with him. Thankfully they kept him roughly the same and darn them but I like his current gf. They seem good together.
Guess I can include the current Doctor Who and Clara to this since I get the comic. They are so cute together. I’m going to miss that chemistry when we get the new Doctor but that’s the nature of the show.

Fillon was Joey on OLTL? Damn, that musta been after I quit watching.

Hey everyone! Thanks for all the thoughtful comments – so excited “a dialogue” of sorts actually worked! :)

@Eamon: I think that’s pretty effective then!

@Conor: Good points. I think your last (about the possibility of something like a new Batman comic being amazing after all these years) is an especially good one. I felt that concept quite powerfully when I was reading Scott Snyder’s The Black Mirror run (the last Detective Comics run before the new 52) and felt more energized about Batman stories than I had in years and years and years. It’s amazing when that happens, I just wish it was more common (for me).

@Canaan: Would you mind putting this on a bumper sticker for me?
“Terrible analogies aside, comics have always been commercial art. It’s when the commercial aspect becomes more obvious than the art of it, that we must turn away” Bit long I suppose but it’d be helpful! :)

@Charlie Ward: I don’t generally say I’m “FROM” Utah, but yes, I spent my formative teenage years there and though I only ever moved back briefly (for a year) between transferring colleges, I travel back frequently as my immediate family is there. Even though it doesn’t feel like “where I’m from” it has become home in a way because it has all my people. :)

@Dan: Absolutely agreed on the idea of following creators. Except for what I have to read for work, I think I do that almost universally (having given up on the idea that I can successfully follow characters). I see your point about Hawkeye. I do think one of the many reasons I’m able to enjoy it AS MUCH as I do is that I didn’t have that pre-attachment to Clint. I didn’t know him that well/he was not that beloved to me. So it’s easy for me to take this as “the bible on Clint”…but obviously that is not the case for most people.

Thanks for the “women in comics” and 3 Chicks specific shout out. Warms the cold dead cockles of my heart!

@El Bryanto: Yeah. I agree that following writers (or creators in general) is a good way to get the best books, and I mostly do that. But I guess that’s a little bit my point. In stories in other mediums it is the characters that I attach fanatically to, but comics have not enabled me to do that (for whatever reason, perhaps the things I mentioned above, perhaps something else that I’m missing) and so while I love and adore the medium and I’m sure will never “let it go” following creators is something I do a little more logically, instead of being driven by some “ship/love/whatever madness” that I generally think of as being far more powerful (and illogical)…does that make sense?

@Other Chris: I do the same. We talked about “comfort comics” on the last 3 Chicks Podcast and I definitely pull some of those out when I’m feeling fatigued. It generally re-excites me about the medium in general, but I’m not sure it does much to solve the feeling of being overwhelmed by “the pile” :)

@Lysander: Yeah, I believe he was on for about 3 years – maybe early 1994 until early 1997? He was AMAZING. I wasn’t even watching soaps that much at that point, having left home for college and having other priorities, but I always tried to watch OLTL when I could, and solely for Fillion.

@Nicole: I hear you on crossover burnout for sure. Events/Crossovers is such a frustrating thing for me, because it seems like EVERYONE hates them (or at least hates how frequently we’re subjected to them) but they must work or Marvel/DC would have stopped doing it. This is one of those cases where we fans don’t seem to vote with our dollar/back up our dislike with some hard truth (no purchase!) and it frustrates me.

Sounds like the new Flash must have been a pretty good job with the story then – if you felt strongly about a ship and they broke it up and got you to care for a new one. Preeeeeeeetttttttty good (to quote Larry David). :)

I certainly feel the burnout. And I’m still upset about the way they threw Cassandra, one of the few prominent heroines of color DC has, under the bus and then tried their hardest to pretend she didn’t exist while they pushed Steph and then Barbara.

It also makes it harder for me to tolerate the actions of villains. I can accept that the bad guys will never stop but it greatly diminishes my desire to read ANYTHING with the damn Joker when I know he will literally talk about boiling infants and then never have to pay for his crimes.

@QJ- I’m not so sure that DC threw Cass under the bus in regards to Steph’s take over of the mantle. Steph’s run as Batgirl made references to Cass and her time as Batgirl. I always figured that DC had bigger plans for Cass that just never materialized and when Flashpoint came, they saw no point. Now I will say that both Steph and Cass got thrown under a few buses after Flashpoint. Deep down I still wish DC would put the two girls together but with the concept of Batman Inc kind of gone, that might be a difficult sell then. But having a BlackBat & Spoiler series would be so much fun. OH NO…I used the word “fun”. Now DC will never do it.

@Kelly- Yeah, the complaints don’t seem to hurt their bottom line. Though with Geoff gone from Green Lantern and their habit of mass crossovers, maybe we will see a drop in sales unless they do something fresh and new soon.
Yeah, they are doing a nice job with Flash. But I’m a sucker for a nice guy like Barry who is actually trying to do good for the sake of doing good. He doesn’t have the “vengence” of a Batman or the “responsiblity” angle of Superman. It doesn’t hurt that the artists involved with Flash have been consistently good too.
I’m certain that we will have many discussions on here about the future Flash tv show..but I really hope they don’t take away too much of his “goodness” just to add drama. After all, Smallville’s Clark Kent was a nice boy-next-door most of the time.

I’m feeling a little burnt out on the funny books at the moment as well.

I think a good way to prevent it is to read your books as soon as you get them. If you’re anything like me, you get a little giddy once you have them in hand. If you immediately ride that excitement all the way through your pull list, you can put (or give) them away without having that stack sitting around for weeks staring you in the face like a sink full of dishes.

Of course it helps if the books you’re reading are actually good. Right now Marvel seems more interested in creating a consistent cross-media universe than telling a good story. As a result, crap books like Battle Scars are published, and great shows like Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are canned.

“Events” are also a big problem. They may be good for business, but they’re usually mediocre and have a detrimental affect on other books in the same shared universe. It becomes harder to care about what happens in Iron Man when Tony’s future is shaped not by the events in his own book, but by Brian Bendis over in Ultimate Civil House of Secret Fear Siege.

Well, there’s “comics burnout” in the sense of getting tired of even really good super-powered-adventurer stories — even the ones that don’t focus on the adventure elements — and there’s “comics burnout” like getting tired of the medium.

When I get burnt out on the comics magazines or the superfiction genre, I tend to go elsewhere: read some Don Rosa and Carl Barks, or reread Fun Home, or dig out my copy of The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics to check out old fullpage comic strips in various genres, or dig into Blankets, or read some of Jim Woodring’s Frank, or hit up Kate Beaton’s website, or whatever.

The adventures-in-fantastical-violence genre is far from what comics are about, even if its the dominant group of genres today. The history of the comics is rich, and offers everything from the surprisingly sardonic Little Lulu of the 40s and 50s to the charming nonsense of Basil Wolverton’s humor strips to the political satire and self-reflection of Aline Kominsky’s work across multiple formats.

Not everything is realist-representation in style and action-drama in content. You’d get sick of movies and TV, too, if that was the only stuff you watched.

I think your burnout at least partially stems from the comics now being your job. Doing anything out of obligation rather than desire can lead to resentment.

I took on a big pile of books recently because I decided to read most of Marvel’s publishing from Fantastic Four #1 month by month. It’s a daunting task now that I’m in the 70s. I have so many books that I feel like I have to read. The good thing is that at least there’s always a few good books to read. The bad thing is that there are bad books to slog through.

I guess the difference is that I can always take a week or two off and I don’t have work depending on it. Also, I don’t pick up singles anymore. It’s helpful.

Great post.

I’ve burned out lots of times and needed to step away for long stretches. The problem is the sheer volume of endless stories. BREAKING BAD was an amazing story, but it was told over five seasons comprising just over sixty episodes. Those sixty episodes had one primary story-teller, but a half-dozen other writers. It was also a story building to defined end-point. Basically, every high quality cable series works from a variation on this model.

Soap Operas tell open ended stories every day of the week. They have writing staffs, but those staffs produce much more content: five days a week times fifty-two weeks per years, or 260 episodes. In five seasons, the average soap produces nearly 21 times as much content as BREAKING BAD and they don’t have the luxury of long hiatuses between seasons to evaluate the course of the show. It is hardly shocking that ONE LIFE TO LIVE is much, much worse than the average prestige cable drama.

Comics crank out more content than that. From 1961 until the turn of the century, Marvel grew just in terms of direct spin-offs from one monthly superhero title to twenty-five. That is 300 “episodes” per year or 15% more than the average soap. DC more than doubled that level of output with its “New 52″. Moreover, the Big Two superhero universes are increasingly telling line-wide stories that are directed by Editors, who are not exactly the caliber of story-tellers that you are paying money for.

On the whole, it is shocking that Big 2 comics are as good as they are. Following either publisher means reading a ton of content that is nowhere near the caliber it could (or should) be. That isn’t to say that it is bad, or that the creators aren’t talented, but that the system isn’t ideal for producing consistently top quality work.

Creator-owned titles are typically much better, but they don’t have the synergy to keep me coming back on a regular basis.

I’ve been a Hawkeye/Black Widow shipper for decades.

Hey speaking of Hawkeye, anyone know what’s going on with that one? The last issue was #12 in June and an annual for July. Since then nothing. #13 seems to be getting pushed back again and again…

I combat comics burnout by doing my own webcomic, and implicitly engaging in the issues with comics, superheroes, representation, continuity, etc. as I draw the pages. I’m just as motivated by bad comics as good ones in that way; much of the Ruby Nation story in recent years comes from my dissatisfaction with the X-Men (particularly the character direction of Cyclops).

Hey Kelly, there was a time when I got totally burnt out on comics. It was when I was reading serial comics, the superhero stuff from Marvel and DC (though mostly Marvel). After having about twenty years worth of stories the sinking feeling that had been growing in me for years finally culminated in a fairly long abstinence from the stuff (though there would be occasional special purchases along the way). The trigger for me was the full weight of knowing that none of these stories actually mattered at the end of the day because these characters had to be viable moneymakers forty years from now. It just made everything feel hollow.

If I had been reading Spider-Man and knew his story could end for real in a year or tow years or even five years, I might not have felt the strength of my fatigue. But the bald commercial fact that if Spider-Man’s story ended, it was only a matter of time before he was returned—that killed it for me. I had to get out. It stopped being fun.

So I stopped going back to my comics shop. I stopped caring about the X-Men or Daredevil or Hawk & Dove (man, I loved Hawk & Dove in like 1990). I still picked up Hellboy (because it felt like status quo could shift irrevocably). But otherwise, I was out.

Around 2000, I came back. I focused on stand-alone books or finite series, but I did peek in on a few books. Alias, Daredevil, Batgirl, Ultimate Spider-Man. And they were fun enough. But then again, rather quickly, the emptiness returned. Each of these characters in some fashion will continue plodding along a half-century from now. They are essential IP.

About 8 years ago, I stopped buying anything monthly. I switched to standalones and collections. And I haven’t felt that fatigue since. And the books are just getting better and better. The product from the last five years is more interesting and of greater variety than the five years before that. And it’s just getting better. Publishers who aren’t Marvel or DC are releasing so many just fantastic books that I cannot hope to keep up. These are books whose stories matter to the characters within them because it’s not just a long slug of Important Stories that will eventually return all the toys to the sandbox for the next creative team, proving that none of it mattered in the first place.

I doubt I’ll ever experience burnout ever again.

Captain Haddock

October 7, 2013 at 5:47 pm

I dropped comics for about 4 years when I first moved to Canada (try the maple moose poutine). Being a broke and overworked university student, I couldn’t keep up with comics and just dropped them. Then, one summer when I was back in my home country of not Canada, I was bored and started reading some older comics. The ones I found myself revisiting was Joe Casey and Ladronn’s Cable. The character’s preposterous, the child of Cyclops and clone that turned into a demon is sent into the future after being infected with a techno-organic virus and raised by a woman who’s Cyclops’ daughter from another dimension aged to lead a rebellion against an overlord who infected him the firs…you know the rest.

But Casey and Ladronn made SOMETHING of him. He went from this muscle-bound robotic cliche to this quiet, determined warrior who always had to fight to stop evil wherever it was. Along the way, he did some great things, and some terrible things. It was astonishing to me, the way he developed so organically (joke!) over their 2 year run. And that was what reminded me of how amazing this is as an art form. But what also got me was how much I cared about Cable, and how many memories it brought back to me, glimpses of emotions I once experienced and thoughts I used to have. I felt like a teenager again and could barely control myself (I didn’t cry…I’ll fight those who say otherwise).

So Hawkeye may not last forever, and Aja and Fraction will move on to other things. So Cassandra was booted out (I was outraged and vented on the internet and…nothing happened…anyway Bryan Miller made Spoiler a great Batgirl…then she was booted out…yeah….). Changes happen, and I’ll probably drop those books. Like I did Iron Fist after Aja and Fraction left. Captain America after Brubaker left. Most of DC after the new 52. Sometimes money becomes an issue. Sometimes space, whether in your apartment or on your computer.

But we can’t stay away. There’s always gonna be something. I picked up Sex Criminals recently and was blown away (joke!). Even though you aren’t into it, I love Wonder Woman. Hickman’s Avengers have got me into Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for the first time in almost 10 years. When Gillen/McKelvie leave Young Avengers, I’ll probably shed a tear, similarly when Hawkeye is done. There’s always something else, and while I probably can’t experience them the same way I did when I was a kid, they’re still capable of hitting the right note when they need to.

Haddock, that is whats missing from the current Cable

Does “growing too old” for comics count as burnout? ‘Cuz I’d bet many of us had a moment, around our teen years, and all the way to college, when we thought we were too mature for them, or wanted to degeek ourselves.

My ex used to watch a few soaps, so I’ve been inflicted some for a while years ago. Oh the perils of an evening job making me be at home in early aftternoons. The only character I ever liked is Phyllis from Y&R. She was a hot redheaded scheming badass. Everyone else was stupid and intolerable, but that was possibly just because of the awful writing. Anyway………..

Since the mid 90s I’d say I’m mostly following specific creators, usually artists but a few writers on specific gigs will get my attention too.

My most recent comics burnout was caused by Fear Itself, which made me drop for the first time ever buying anything monthly, and I’m now mostly a trade-waiter. The terrible AVX only cemented that new stance.
Altho I’ll say it’s been quite liberating, now I can just read whatever the hell I feel like and not worry so much about freakin’ continuity!

I still check out a few series, right now I’m really digging Uncanny Avengers (but so very disappointed that Daniel Acuna is off), Hawkeye and All-New X-Men, and for non-big2 there’s Hellboy In Hell (or anything MIgnola draws), East Of West and Luther Strode at Image, and am looking forward to Pretty Deadly, Black Science and Deadly Class. And I want more Beasts Of Burden!
But I’ve also been reading older stuff like those fancy 100 Bullets HCs, and will start Jack Staff (loved Paul Grist’s Kane!) and Powers eventually. And someday I’ll read BPRD. There’s just so much!
The to-read pile is packed. I should say piles, there’s a few of them around my apartment.

Also: Nathan Fillion had a career before Two Guys, A Girl And A Pizza Place? :p

I’ve discussed my comics burnout period so many times on these comments sections that I’m sure everyone’s tired of it. Basically, I grew up reading comics. My brother bought them, and when I was a little older (like 10 or so?), I started buying them. In my early teens, my brother moved out of the house and stopped bringing them home. I had just gotten old enough that my mom wasn’t gonna buy me a comic off the rack at Longs Drugs “if I was good”, and what little money I had was better spent on, I dunno, teenage bullshit. So, at first, it was simple circumstance.

After a few years, I picked up an “X-Men” comic and had no idea what was going on. The art looked weird, Magneto’s handsome long-haired clone was on the team, and there was a blue guy with giant maggots on his shoulders. I basically didn’t pick up a Marvel comic from then ’til Marvel Now (give or take). Eventually, I found things I liked at DC, Image, and at the various independents, but I was into my 20s by then.

As Kabe mentioned above, there was probably a bit of “ugh, comics are for kids and nerds, I’m a cool teenager now”, but for a good solid 7 – 10 years my only comics input was the occasional trade or graphic novel. I did have a Summer where I read the entire Sandman series for the first time, borrowed from my brother’s friend. There was probably some part of my too-cool teenage self that thought “Oh, this is fine, cuz it’s smart and literary”.

I’ve been a comic book addict since 1967 and I’ve never gotten burned out with comics. However, I have been betrayed several times by Marvel and DC.

When some ignoramous editor ruins my favorite characters by turning them evil (like Hal Jordan or Tony Stark), or suddenly gives them a new personality after thirty years, or arbitrarily gives them a new costume, they make me sick. When the characters I love are no longer the same character, why should I care about them any more?

And the worst crime of all — rebooting — usually ends up with me dropping the title forever. So now I don’t buy any DC comics, and only a few Marvels. But I am enjoying lots of comics from Dynamite, IDW, Dark Horse, Image, etc.

Like many of us, you are suffering from story fatigue. Reading the same stories and not exercising the same creative muscle. As a artist/consumer, the key to fighting story fatigue is to only read things that inspire YOU or stories that sound reasonably appealing. As creative culture develops and more comics are produced, it’s impossible to keep up with everything. Another contributing factor is that your growth as writer/reader will make your taste more refined, therefore requiring more , you find yourself cutting out properties that take less of a risk and instead focusing on properties that made you fall in love with the medium in the first place. We’re on the same regiment.

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