“If you negative in energy then stay out the vicinity of…”

October 23rd, 2008 by | Tags: , , ,

I have this thing where I have to see why I do things. Why did I have that reaction, what does that mean about me, and so on. I got completely pissed off at blogging about race last week and decided to quit doing it. Of course, this week, a couple interesting books from a race perspective were released, but whatever.

I started thinking about why I had such an adverse reaction, what brought it on, and why I got so sick of it all of a sudden. I’m crazy busy at work and not sleeping at home, so I’m sure that that doesn’t help. I was thinking about it while I was walking to get lunch and actually had Lupe Fiasco’s “Gold Watch” off Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool [amazon link] snap it into focus for me. It’s the title of this post, and there really isn’t that much context to go with it. It’s just a hot line.

I think the straw that broke the camel’s back (“Why did one straw break the camel’s back? Here’s the secret: the million other straws underneath it”) was this post by Angry Black Woman. It’s about a top 25 list of black superheroes that I saw and ignored back in June. It’s a crap list that, to be honest, is only worth talking about as something terrible.

Exactly ten of the characters deserve to be on the list, thogh in different positions, and doggone Meteor Man is on the list ahead of Black Panther. It’s a joke. It’s a sub-Maxim Top XX list, which is there pretty much for hits. The list sucks. The choices suck. The justifications for the choices suck.

But, on the day I read ABW’s post, and a few days later, I saw it linked around in a few other places, though only Girl-Wonder‘s coming to mind now. I was kind of stunned. This is what people want to talk about? Somebody’s afterthought of a crap list of crap characters? Granted, everyone acknowledges the crappiness of the list and it’s in an attempt to make a better one, but this is what it took to get people talking?

Not 30 straight days of posts about comics and black history, one of the most fascinating comics produced in the past few years winning a deal, a look at real life black heroes, the king representing for black/white relations, or anything else I’ve written? My post on afro-futurism and comics got some buzz because a good friend of mine gave it some love on his big-name big-shot Gawker site (thanks Graeme!).

I realized, probably the same day I read ABW’s post, that it got way fewer comments than a recent post wherein I modestly proposed that maybe crappy bloggers should get punched in the face for being bad people. I started ticking things off in my head. “Vixen getting lightened up? Black Goliath getting killed? Falcon being set on fire? Tamora Pierce turning the White Tiger into a piece of crap character in a bad story?” The posts I made during BHM that were about busting shots at characters or bloggers? Those got attention.

Negativity gets attention. If it’s about somebody screwing up, people are gonna want to talk about it. I’ve been guilty of it myself, I won’t lie. The Greg Land posts on 4l! get plenty of attention to this day.

Nobody talkes about the dope stuff. Spider-Girl has been pretty great at presenting a balanced portrayal of race. Sentences was great and it seems like the blogosphere ignored it. No one cares about Nat Turner.

We get two of the best books to represent the (and present) a black experience in the comics medium and the response is… deafening silence.

Oh, but Vixen’s skin tone? That gets miles and miles of press. I think that her skin tone is an important thing to pay attention to, but the Hyperbole Brigade came out in force (“oh wow i thought she was a new white character who just dressed like an established character hurrrrrr” shut up no you didn’t).

Where’s the Hyperbole Brigade for the good books? Did nobody read Sentences? Was it a fluke that I enjoyed it as much as I did? Papa Midnite doesn’t exist? What about the fact that a reformed kid from Harlem is running one of Marvel’s oldest superteams and is pitched as having been right about the past two events? What about the fact that he’s taken Captain America’s place on that team? All I see is a lot of hating and very little appreciating.

I’m not saying that everything has to be all kumbaya and ALI BUMAYE or whatever. I don’t believe in that and I don’t think anyone else does, either. But it seems like the race in comics blogosphere, just like the regular comics blogosphere, and just like the rest of the internet, is so overwhelmingly concerned with putting somebody on blast that the good stuff has no room.

Kyle Baker is a trailblazer and he is still putting out amazing books. So, hey, let’s see here– three posts about Kyle Baker’s Toussaint, his upcoming Harper Collins book.

Three posts, only one of which is actually about Baker’s Toussaint, and which is on Baker’s own site. What part of the game is that? You ignore one of the greatest living cartoonists (not black, greatest living period) in favor of what? What are you talking about that Kyle Baker dropping another bomb on us is unimportant?

Why aren’t you talking about Brandon Thomas? Dude invents probably the best black female since, oh, Harriet Tubman and Miranda Mercury gets how much love? What about Afua Richardson, an artist with a dope style?

The negativity is, and was, killing me. It had me mad enough to want to quit talking race entirely. It was like touching a hot stove, or going on a date that ends in awkward confessions. “Welp, not doing that again!” It’s baffling to me. Blacks in comics (be it superhero, mainstream, or otherwise) are better now than they have ever been, and I feel like there is so much more to talk about than some garbage corporate character. This isn’t to say that corporate characters suck– but even they have gotten better in the years since I first started reading.

I had to readjust my POV after this past week. I can’t do the race blog hatefest on whatever mediocre comic screwed up on black people all the time. I hate this feeling that I have to talk about some character I don’t even like to either get hits or be relevant. Looking back, I’ve done it too often for my own tastes. I don’t want to talk about some garbage list. I’ve done that list not once, but twice. I haven’t talked about Miranda Mercury or Genius or Sentences or Nat Turner or Luke Cage or Panther or Papa Midnite or Garth Ennis and race or whatever whatever enough.

Sometimes I put too much thought into things.

Happier post next time.

Similar Posts:

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

16 comments to ““If you negative in energy then stay out the vicinity of…””

  1. Great post.

    Sometimes I wonder if the whole failblog.org/workplace e-mail forward culture hasn’t contributed to this situation where it’s way easier to join a chorus heaping disdain at something than it is to actually contribute a constructive, coherent thought. It’s easier to skim a post talking about something that’s really dumb than it is to read an article that explains why something is important and great, which is why so many of the comments on those kinds of stories have such awful reading comprehension. It’s a shame, but as long as people keep sending around funny/stupid shit, it’ll stick around. Maybe it’s just human nature.

  2. How come Jim Rhodes never gets a mention when it comes to black superheroes. He’s one of my favorites.

  3. Don’t take this shit so hard. There’s some of us folks out there that look forward to each post even if we don’t speak up. Keep on doing what you do.

  4. I don’t know if this’ll mean much, but negativity rarely lasts the test of time. You ask someone what’s essential reading for a Batman reader, nine times out of ten they’ll say the Killing Joke. Zero times outta a hundred they’ll say Ten Nights of the Beast, which came out the same year.

  5. Negative/sensational stuff gets a large number of hits in a short span of time. The kind of blogging you do finds a regular audience and consistently builds larger and larger.

    And Miranda Mercury? In its short run, it was very good. But I’d put the lack of play up to Brandon pulling it after the publisher’s bad news and not having it show up anywhere since.

  6. @A.o.D.: You know I’d never noticed. Maybe ‘cos he’s had fewer “culture” stories than Cage or T’Challa. Kinda hard with the armor.

    Maybe his new series will have him taking out the Ultra-KKK or some Mega-Racists. That’d be pretty rad.

    Also, it’s pretty weird, but go read the recent Cap series and count how many times Sam says “Girl” or “Woman”. It’s distracting as anything.

  7. Chalk me up as another person who never comments who appreciates your material on this blog. I just typically don’t feel like I have anything worth adding. For the record, this is one of only two (non-personal) blogs that I read on any kind of regular basis (the other is, uh, Icarus Publishing).

  8. It might be easier to talk up Marvel black heroes if the three most prominent ones right now (Cage and Black Panther/Storm) weren’t on books I find terrible. Or that my favorite African-American hero (Night Thrasher) wasn’t killed off to stupidly set-up Civil War. Or if JLA had an artist who drew Black Lightning and GL Stewart in ways I could tell apart aside from costume.

    But yeah the Nat Turner book is more than a little awesome. And Blue Beetle survived its writer change. And a return of Milestone in December. And maybe that will lead to some trade collections. And the recent rise in prose super-hero themed novels and anthologies has led to The Darker Mask: Heroes From the Shadows which seems to be about PoC centered “supers” stories that I’m reading now…

  9. For what its worth: 4thletter is one of only three or four comics blogs I read regular, and Black History Month an exceptional piece of comics criticism.

  10. I also lurk with love, cuz your work has substance & is worth my time & thought. I’ve read your post on Afro-futurism several times – it’s one of my favorite pieces on comics this year, & has influenced my reading of Final Crisis. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  11. I’m also a big fan of your contributions to this site who, like the previous poster said, doesn’t comment much because you really nail it and I rarely feel like I could add much to the conversation.

    I do agree with you about how easy it is get burned out from all the negativity. That’s one of the reasons I don’t really get involved in a lot of comic discussion communities because it feels like many of the most vocal people in those communities don’t read comics for any other reason than to have something to complain about.

    So yeah, keep up the good work.

  12. Another thing about negativity posting is that it’s real easy to criticize things. A lot of times, you don’t even have to read the material, you can tell, on its face, that it’s not good.

    But to really speak on something good? You have to experience it. And if you didn’t read that great comic book, what do you have to contribute to the conversation?

  13. This seems like a classic example of overthinking the internet and becoming overly frustrated as a result. Sometimes you need to turn off the Marshall McLuhan and just fucking walk away. It’s not that different than scrawls on the bathroom wall: sometimes people just have to put in their two cents even though it all amounts to not a goddamn thing.

  14. Well, I like comics, and I love reading comics blogs, but I only read a few comic books regularly, so a lot of the time I decide halfway through a comment that I’ve actually got nothing to add, and then I blank the comment and continue just reading.

    It also takes me a lot longer to process a complicated post than a simpler, more negative one. Your Afro-futurism post? I’m still processing. When it comes to, say, Echo in New Avengers, I know immediately that she’s under-utilized and that she deserves more and better exposure. No one seems to be writing about that, though. Maybe I’m the only one who fell instantly, madly in love with Maya Lopez in the course of the only Daredevil issue I ever read. I should track down that issue.

    I keep meaning to do the 50 things I love list, but I want to do it properly, with scans and everything.

    I think this comment might be nonsensical.

  15. I love Echo, too. I think she’s the best supporting character DD has, next to Spider-Man.

    Thanks for reading. Send me a link when you get around to posting those things, too.

  16. Hey man, thx for the mention. We’ll get there someday. one character at a time.