A friend of mine walked into the comic shop.
Not a strange thing at all to see a friend of mine walk into the place where I've met a lot of my friends. The difference was, that I hadn't actually seen him inside the shop for a good long while. He did what he usually does; he looked around, looked at trades and asked how I was doing.
This time something was different. Very different. He was measured, subdued.
This time he was doing something different; he was quietly placing things back upon the shelves.
"Is everything cool," I asked.
"Yeah, I just don't do it anymore. I stopped reading comics."
I wish I could say that I was stunned. I wish I could say I was incredulous. I wish I could say I did everything within my power to show him what he was missing.
None of the above ever happened.
What I actually said and did actually made more sense to me than nearly anything I've said and done in awhile.
"I really can't blame you."
And that was it. We exchanged goodbyes and this friend of mine, one who taught me to appreciate the craft involved in comics, walked out, empty-handed. Done.
Done with something that had, for over thirty years, brought a smile to his face.
It made me sad that there was nothing I could say or would want to say to convince him otherwise. He was done and I respected and fully understood why.
He was simply done.
Done with grinding it out, month after month, hoping the comics you adored would give you some reason to do so again.
Done with the monthly grind of "consequences that would rock (insert here) to his/her/its very foundations" only to have them not really amount to much at all.
Done with watching the companies who treated you with a bit of dignity when you were a kid, viewing you as nothing more than a demographic to bleed dry, in effect, creating a dying one at that.
Done with a hobby that seems to value nostalgia over creative innovation.
Done with companies who actually had enough respect for their readership that they would let loose upon your imagination the likes of Alan Moore, John Byrne, George Perez, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Chris Claremont, Marv Wolfman, Howard Chaykin, Art Adams and just let them create the comics they'd like to read.
Done with characters being veiwed as nothing more than intellectual property to be exploited in other media.
Done with how the companies who create the things we loved trying to find ways to take it out of our hands and put it on computer screens.
Done with being made to feel made to feel the time and love you invested in this hobby was simply your just gathering up colored paper.
It was the look of a man who grew up and realized it hadn't kept up and consequently, was left behind.
I have no answers on how to turn things around for my friend or the comics industry and I truly wish I did. This is STILL a great hobby. It is still want to be involved in.
I want to feel like an active participant in keeping this new mythology I've come to love, open and vibrant.
I want more from it than crossovers, incentive covers, colored rings and oneupsmanship.
We are being used up and we are the last generation who will allow for it.
I want comics to feel like a House of Ideas again.
What I don't want is for our Houses of Ideas, Mystery and Secrets to start feeling as though they were built on reservations. Ones we're more than willing to walk away from.