I Still Read Comics (Most of My Friends do Not)

As I work on posts for this blog again, I started thinking about my circle of friends and their relationship to comics.  I've had the same friends for most of my life.  Some long time friends I no longer speak to (other than the occasional Facebook comment) while others are fairly new, however it would be safe to say that my list of friends hasn't changed that dramatically since I was six.  It's not because I'm a social pariah by any means, it's because I bond with people and see no reason to toss aside perfectly working friendships.  It helps that some of our core beliefs remain intact all these years later, so that's always a bonus.  We still talk about movies.  We still have taco Tuesday.  Most of  us go to church (others do not, but they are usually free on Saturday's).  If there is one universal truth though it's that most of my friends no longer read comics.  They might still see the Marvel movies, but a comic they have not touched in ages.  Same thing goes with members of my anime club, who still pop in "Ranma ½" once in a blue moon but won't touch a printed book by Rumiko Takahashi (which have been re-released in EXCELLENT omnibuses)!

The sad thing is...I think when my friends lost interest in comics, I started to as well.

I've been thinking a lot about my old website - The Comic Book - with a lot of regret and a sense of loss.  I wrote for it for three years of my life and even built up a nice little following.  Ironically, the day I stopped updating it was the day a complete stranger found out I was the owner of the site and told me how much he loved it.  At first I thought that that simple bit of recognition scared me away from updating again, but it really didn't.  I loved hearing that a total stranger was reading my site, so if anything that should have been a boost to keep it going!  No, there were several problems.  I wanted to be a film critic.  Comics were getting expensive.  I wanted to be the next Roger Ebert.  Some of these reasons were more vein than others.  One of the reasons I haven't given a lot of thought to until recently is the fact that a lot of my friends were moving on from the comic book scene.  When I was writing The Comic Book I was writing for me and my friends.  While my friends weren't religious readers, my reviews would sometimes act like a launch pad for discussions on comics.

My friends would read a review of a title they found interesting and would go buy it.  Or they would read a review of a title they liked and didn't know I liked it as well.  Or they would read a review of a title they liked and didn't realize I hated it, so we'd bicker about it like the spoiled kids we were.  While the site wasn't the center of my relationships it did come up from at least one friend every week.  That means the site was crucial to my social life functioning.  Even before the site comics were a great way to make and maintain friends.  I frequently traded comics with friends growing up as most of us were too poor to buy more than a couple issues a month, so we would coordinate with each other on who was buying what.  Comics - like baseball and Pokemon cards - were a social thing to do with friends.  As we got older though we started to leave some things behind.  Most of my friends still played video games.  TV shows got a heck of a lot better.

I promise it won't get this bad.

For some of my friends they rekindled their love for reading novels (enough so that we started a book club up)!  Heck, a lot of my friends still love anime.  Comics and manga though...honestly, it seems like most (if not all) of my friends just decided to leave it behind.  We reminiscence about the good old days of reading "Dragon Ball" and "Naruto," but I don't know a single friend who read an issue of Shonen Jump since they became Shonen Jump Alpha.  I've stuck with the hobby though.  In fact, this will be the 16th anniversary of me buying "Case Closed" from Viz.  I tend to give up hobbies slower than others.  Yet without that social aspect, the website started to feel more like a chore.  I didn't need it to be making me loads of money, but I needed it to be doing something for me.  It was no longer a conversation starter.  After awhile it started to feel weird to be working on it when no one I knew personally visited it.  It almost felt like this secret thing I did in my basement before emerging to join the outside world.  At one point I stopped updating it and never gave it another thought.

So why did I come back to it?

Part of the reason I came back to it is because - when it comes to writing - I believe I was most like myself when writing about comics.  I also miss the interaction with comic fans.  Though there some strange fans in the world, they were (by and large) a pleasure to deal with!  I miss writing and it's clear that I am not the best film critic in the world.  Finally, I'm reading more comics than ever.  Digitally now!  The more comics I read the more I want to talk about them, and since most of my friends don't read comics, a blog or website actually would be a benefit now!  Interestingly, even though I've been reading more comics digitally, I do have some philosophical problems with digital comics and resisted the urge to read them in this format for years.  What changed my mind?  Maybe I'll discuss that next time around...?!

Your Comic Book Guy - Kevin

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