I'm reminded of the old Oingo Boingo song while I read through this series of messages on Live Journal and found myself thinking, again, about the level of emotional investment that we get in what are, lets say it out loud, CORPORATE PROPERTIES.
Hell hath no fury like the scorned fan, and yet, should be surprised? We put all this love into these characters yet they don't love us back. No matter how much the authors love them, even, one day they will have to turn them over to someone else, someone else who will retcon everything that you love out of existence. Jean Grey fans I'm talking to you. Birds of Prey fans, I'm talking to you too.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that suddenly girls read comics, especially now that there are more options other than superheroes out there (not that they don't read superheroes as well). And it should come as no surprise to anyone, although I think that it has, that women fall in love with well written characters and they blog and write shipping stories and they email and they communicate far more than men do about these characters. They care passionately about the characters they love and they get PISSED when those characters are doing things that make them look idiotic, or make them fall back into the morass of poorly written characters, or perhaps worst of all, marginalize them. That last seems to be particularly galling given the lack of strong female characters in the two majors.
Is that why they hold onto Birds of Prey and Manhunter? Given that Wonder Woman, the only strong female character with her own marketing plan of the Holy Trinity at DC is a cypher that has been rebooted so many times that she should have footprints in her logo, no wonder they hold on to the few books that have actually had characters taht they can care about and believe in.
Please note on that LJ thread, when one poster basically tells another "to relax", it sets off a whole chain that the original poster is basically never going to talk his/her way out of, whether they wanted to troll or not. If they're not a troll, then on one side i can agree with them somewhat. "Yes, I know you care, but its a comic and its a property and they're subject to editorial whims that can derail even the best characters and the strongest storylines. Try not to have a heart attack." And yet, they're on a board where the people care passionately about these stories and these characters and saying that is like waving a flag in front of a bull. Its the wrong audience and a very, very bad idea.
I alternately care and don't care as much as i used to. Working in mainstream comics and being part of the assembly line, you just do the work and move on and you try to care and control the part that, basically, you have control over. I cared too much and it made me a pain to deal with because I wanted to the work to be better, and that was pushing against the editor's inflow and outflow. And because they didn't think that the work NEEDED to be better. You go back and look at some of the Acclaim Comics and let me know what you think. Did they need to be better?
And this is why I quit working in mainstream comics. I could sit there with a new book on my board ready to ink and I desperately wanted to work to suddenly become the Byrne/Austin X-Men and for all the sweat that I put in to reflect in the final product. And it didn't. And I got a mental ulcer getting as angry as the people on Live Journal to no avail. It didn't make a damn thing better.
Now I care deeply about the art that i do on the webcomic and it can be reflected in the finished product. You may not like it, or care, or you may, but at least its worth having an opinion about. When i see my friend Tim Perkin's work on his graphic novel World's End I don't have to wonder if its what he wanted his work to be, I know that it is. And then its worth investing some emotional energy into. Personal work, love it or hate it, usually is.