Sunday, August 09, 2009

Revenge of the geeks

I really should do something else but right now my brother is watching something in the living room and my right hand is hurting anyway. So I´m sitting here and writing about comicgeeks and fanboys.

The nice thing about comics is that the more things chamge the more they stay the same. Which is the reason why a fanboy rant I wrote over three years ago is up to date because of Grant Morrison. It seems that while he may get a lot of love from geeks and comic readers in general there´s no love coming back. I don´t know the full story but let´s start with the comment from Mr. Morrison that started it all :

“I don’t care about geeks, you know ? Geeks shouldn’t be given power. When geeks get power, you get Hitler. There’s a lot of weird and angry geeks out there. But what (a comic book movie) does is it opens up comics as a medium. It stops being geekish. There’s comic books for everyone. There’s comic books for women, there’s comic books for kids, there’s comic books for teenage Goths. That is the important thing that movies are doing.”

Now to me it sounds as if he is talking about some comic readers who deconstruct comic movies and tries to show the positive aspects of comic movies. It only sounds absolutely insulting to comic readers. Not to mention that Mr. Morrison seems to overestimate the effect comic movies have on comic sales. So far I have only heard that it has no visible effect on comic sales. Although there may be some persons who have a positive inclination towards comis because of comic movies - if a good comic should fall into their lap. Because god forbid they ever set foot in a comic book store. Or buy a comic at a book store.

The only possible exceptions are manga and graphic novels due to the fact that the general audience don´t see them as comics per se. Anyway, over at ICV2 Steve Bennet wrote an answer to the statement of Grant Morrison in which he raises some valid points.

But instead of just putting the link up I want to give my readers my two cents. I know that the links for my link posts are piling up and I can´t even remember when I did the last solicitation rundown but I just have to say a few words. Right now I may get a new job and the only thing that bugs me is that the people at my workplace seem to have the impression that reading comics is some kind of disease that I have to be cured from. They are wellmeaning people who I kind of pity because they probably haven´t read a good comic in their live but still it is strange. I mean they wouldn´t act that way if I read books or watched a lot of movies. Well I DO watch a lot of movies and that gets me some strange looks. But it doesn´t seem to be percieved as bad and unhealthy as reading comics.

I have even been accused to live in a " comic world " by one friend but I think that has to do with all the negative propaganda my brother is spreading about me. Because of my shoulder injury I have to sleep on the sofa in the living room - it´s gotten better but I still can´t sleep in my bed - and sometimes I can´t sleep at night because my shoulder hurts. Which means that some days I used to sleep till very late while on some nights I couldn´t sleep and during which I read comics or watched tv or a movie.

Apart from going to the physio therapy ( which now has stopped because they don´t want to pay for it anymore and I have to figure out a way to do it myself ) and the occasional shopping tour I didn´t leave the house very often. Because let´s face it : I didn´t leave the house before if I didn´t have to and a painful shoulder injury doesn´t really motivate you to move that much. On some days I was just totally useless and had to drink lots of water and go to the toilet.

Now my brother just sees that he can´t watch his movies whenever he wants - like three o clock in the morning - because somebody has occupied the living room. And so he´s been telling everyone who doesn´t want to hear it that I´m just a lazy fart who spends his days cooped up in the living room watching tv and reading comics all day. No wonder my friend is worried. But now let´s get to the fanboy rant I wrote more than three years ago. At that time everybody was on the fanboy´s case and not much seems to have changed since then. There are a few things that sound strange today but when it was written that was how it was. As always it´s not a 100 percent word for word translation because I don´t " translate " my own writings. I just write them in english. And you can find the original german version right here. So here it is :


Lately I have been thinking about the image comics and especially comicfreaks have in our culture. If you look at other outcasts it´s a fact that most other groups have succeeded in integrating themselves into society or even forced the big crowds to adapt to their lifestyle or be crushed.

Computerfreaks for example used to be skinny, pimpleinfested milksops who never got a girlfriend and now they are the megacool powerdudes with mad skills who save the day when push comes to shove. In my youth you were an outcast if you mentioned games like FROGGER or SPACE INVADER and nowadays you´re a total loser if you don´t know games like RESIDENT EVIL, SILENT HILL, METAL GEAR SOLID or DEVIL MAY CARE. Back then people tough you were crazy if you spent all your money on arcade games but now you´re part of a dying breed if you don´t have a Playstation 3, Dreamcast, Gamecube or at least a Wii. There are people who get payed just to play - no matter if they win or loose.

The image of comics or comicreaders on the other hand hasn´t changed in the last twenty, thirty years. And the worst part is that not only do comicfreaks get no love from people outside the comicbusiness - even within the comic industry they are treated badly and are insulted as fanboys. It has even come so far that when you are on a messageboard and critique anything or try to hold a publisher responsible to put an effort into the comics you spend your hardearned money on you are instantly called a fanboy and ridiculed. If I want an artist who can actually draw women on a book with a female lead character - then I´m a fanboy. If I would like to have a good artist on a book with a good writer - then I´m a fanboy. If I don´t like it when a character suddenly starts to act totally different and out of character after 20 years without any reason or explanation - then I´m a fanboy. If I´m not content with only reading series the comic critics advise but rather would like to make up my own mind because - hello - Alan Moore is not the Alpha and Omega of comics because there have been good comics before him - then I´m a fanboy. If I dare to have a different opinion because for me SQUADRON SUPREME was waaay more innovative than WATCHMEN - then I´m a fanboy.

If I prefer writers who work with continuity instead of against it or who totally ignore it - then I´m a fanboy. If I don´t think everything was crap in the Silver Age but rather that there were some mindblowing concepts that could be applied to todays comics if you can put a cool spin on it - then I´m a fanboy. If I think Hal Jordan is a better Lantern than Kyle Rayner ( of course Guy Gardner is the best of them all ) - then I´m a fanboy. If I don´t want to constantly think about where something fits into continuity but rather would like to just enjoy great works like ALL STAR SUPERMAN - then I´m a fanboy. If I think that the Marvel comics of the 70s were better, more innovative and had more politic relevance than most of the stuff they publish today - then I´m a fanboy. If I like to read the WIZARD magazine ( this was back when they were still a comic magazine ) because I can discern between articles that are just there for their entertainment value or as advertisements and informative reviews and I like magazines that know their clients - then I´m a fanboy !


And you know what ? I´m proud of it ! What most comic readers ( at least those who call others fanboys ) continually forget is the fact that without fanboys there wouldn´t even be a comic industry today. Who do you think kept buying those badly written and badly drawn comics and who do you think kept on supporting their favorite characters when the comic market almost selfdestructed because of the speculator craze ? Surely not the handfull of wannabe comic intellectuals who bought a comic every few years. It was the masses that bought titles like X - Men or Spider - Man ( even if it was just mindless drivel ) the books that are shunned by critics and who gave the publishers the money to produce such jewels like PREACHER or STARMAN ( still not published in Germany by the way ).

And the masses of comic readers - that´s us fanboys. Fanboys represent the Alpha Primitives from INHUMANS within the comic industry. Disfigured, ugly degenerates who live below the earth and who keep the big machines running through their tears, sweat and blood. Because of them the Inhumans can live in their Utopia city Attilan. And they are shunned for it and branded as outcasts. But you know what ? This outcast doesn´t go silently into the night, no, this outcast demands his seat at the table and takes his piece of the cake.

But there are not only fanboys among comic readers. A lot of comic dealers are fanboys because if not they would have closed shop and taken a path that brings them more money. It´s only their love for comics that keeps them selling comic books. Because let´s be honest - how many rich comic dealers are there ? And what is the thanks for all the sacrifice and devotion ? They are ridiculed on THE SIMPSONS. Well, thanks for nothing, dude.

But you can find fanboys everywhere. No matter if you look at the executives of comic companies or at the star artist or star writers there are dozens of fanboys everywhere. The boss of Marvel ? Fanboy. Just take a look at his office - it´s a virtual Mekka for fanboys.

Most hot artists ? Fanboys. Writers who work for Hollywood or television like J. M. Straczinsky, Alan Heinberg, Reginald Hudlin, Joss Whedon or bestselling authors like Brad Meltzer ? Fanboy, fanboy, fanboy, fanboy. There are fanboys everywhere who are afraid to come out of the closet and give free reign to their inner fanboy. And that´s why the call to arms goes out to all the comicgeeks, comicfreaks and fanboys throughout the world and I shout out to them : Fight back ! Band together ! Do somethinhg ! Do your own website, your own comicblog or your own comic radio show or podcast. Listen to shows like Comicgeekspeak, Fanboyradio or I read Comics because you are not alone. Comicgeeks of all nations unite !

Well, I guess with that I have gotten of my chest what´s been bugging me lately. I have been thinking about starting my own blog because of my three year anniversary on ELFENBEINTURM in April this year and I´m still looking for a good title. All the good names like FANBOYRAMPAGE are already taken but taking into account how people are downtalking fanboys at the moment I´m considering a name like WHEN FANBOYS RULED THE EARTH or FANBOYS UNITED. Or something like FANBOYS TO POWER or ACHTUNG ! FANBOY ! I just don´t know if I´m going to write it in german, spanish, english or all of the above. In any case I´m probably going to post some of my articles about comics as well as the FANBOY DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE - if I ever get to finish it.


To end the topic here are two links that deal with the topic. First up is Steve Leiva who talks a bit about his comic book youth and ponders if the word fanboy really is an insult to todays comic readers and the second one is by Alyssa Rosenberg who tells us that fanboys have at least taken over Hollywood

So the next time somebody calls me fanboy I wil just say : Why thank you. Remember : be a player not a hater.

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