May 6th, 2009 by | Tags:

The other day I was in a comics forum and saw a certain creator roasted in absentia.  Par for the course, so far.  We’re comics geeks.  We eat our own.  Most of the people in the forum joined in the, how shall I put this, unholy orgy of hate.  Again, that’s pretty normal for the internet, and I have, in the past, not been above joining a group that took pleasure in tearing into an innocent human being who has done nothing more than write a comic in a way I don’t approve of. 

This time, however, it surprised me.  A single apoplectic comics fan can happen anywhere.  And, of course, there are pockets of fan-worship and deep hatred depending on which section of the internet you stumble into.  On one site Frank Miller is a misunderstood genius.  On another he’s Satan incarnate.  But this creator would have been popular anywhere a couple of years ago.

I haven’t been a comics fan for all that long, but even in a few years, I’ve noticed that there can be a complete reversal of popular opinion about one creator or another.  Sometimes it can be as simple as having a huge build up to a disappointing run.  Sometimes it’s an unpopular decision about what to do with one character or another (although that usually is what gets editors in trouble).  Sometimes it’s an unfortunate public statement.

Sometimes, however, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for it at all.  One year, the creator is the best thing happening, and then the tide turns.  Fans go from clamoring for more to screaming about how that’s enough already.

I wonder how comics professionals feel about this.  I suppose anyone in charge of a  comics company has resigned themselves to hatred, but what about those who depend on popularity for a living?  Do they live in dread that one day their name on a website will mean an avalanche of scorn and criticism?  I certainly would.

Fortunately, critics are immune.  Right?

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11 comments to “Backlash”

  1. I try not to go with the groupthink on which writers are currently extremely unpopular. Like generally the same people who were calling All-Star Batman and Robin the most horrible comic book produced since the dawn of visual media have come around and actually like it a lot now that they’ve realized that it’s completely batshit insane satire.

    I know you probably won’t say, but who were you referring to?

  2. Oh, I’ve noticed a few. Frank Miller, Devin Grayson, Grant Morrison, Chuck Dixon.

  3. All of the weeaboo over Grant Morrison lately is because I think that the diehard/middle aged comics fans that demand the return of dead silver agers like Barry Allen or Hal Jordan like their stories presented to them in a very clean, simplistic manner without much in the way of ambiguity or subtext. Personally, I like having to put forth a slight bit of effort to understand my favorite comics, even if it means reading a few blogs or interpretations online to see some of the connecting threads in Final Crisis.

  4. I’ve seen Geoff Johns reputation change from hated for IC, loved as one of 52’s writers, majorly controversial for Green Lantern: Rebirth, loved again for the Sinestro Corps war, and then he got mixed impressions of his Superman work & the Gog arc in JSA. Right now Flash: Rebirth isn’t earning him much credit but it could still turn around, and Blackest Night holds a lot of promise. But I think this corresponds to how loud his fanboys or detractors get more than a sea change in overall opinion, as it by and large lines up with the quality of his output.

    A while back a visit to the superdickery forums made me realize one particular group’s shared opinion is not necessarily shared by other groups. (They friggin’ hated Grant Morrison and Final Crisis #1. I could understand being confused, but how could you not be engrossed anyway?) Having accepted that, I’ve recently been trying to step back and not look at any singular opinion being shared by everyone in a given group either. The backlash you’re talking about makes it hard, though, because there’s always one side that can drown out the other. Then the tables turn and your head’s left spinning.

  5. @zero democracy:

    Yeah, because its not at all possible to think Final Crisis was a confusing mess AND that Hal Jordan was last interesting to read when he was dead…

    I’d say Bendis and Millar and several other of the JoeQ favorites have gone from darlings of the internet to locked down on. At least by some groups since they all tend to sell well…

    Heck, I’m seeing more and more dislike for Matt Fraction of late which surprises me…

  6. I will entirely admit that I did this with Warren Ellis. I’d also argue I’m validated by the man’s own actions, but nobody gives a shit.

    (This is kind of where it pays to not know the names of a creator until they begin pissing me off. Less possible for me now that I’m following this kind of thing more closely, but eh.)

  7. If you haven’t seen the Loeb hate on the SA forums, you’re ‘missing out.’

  8. Sometimes it’s easiest (not always correct though) to go along with the crowd . .

  9. I’m somewhat guilty of this, in a way. I went from really digging Jeph Loeb, Mark Millar, and Warren Ellis to not wanting to pick up their comics at all. That’s a case of familiarity breeds contempt, I think. Millar’s got a tin ear for dialogue, save for action movie cliches, Ellis tends to push his angry scifi/steampunk/zombie/whatever all in your face like nobody’s business, and Loeb is just terrible at plotting on an Olympic level. I learned to recognize this by reading their comics over and over when I considered myself a fan of theirs.

    I’m going through something of a trial period with Bendis, too. New Avengers is a pretty good comic, bad art by Billy Tan aside, but everyone sounds the same. Bendis does great dialogue, usually, but Luke Cage isn’t Spider-Man isn’t Hawkeye isn’t etc. I learned to recognize his tics, and now they bother me. Geoff Johns went from writing my favorite Flash run to being a writer who is writing books that I haven’t been truly interested in for going on a couple of years now.

  10. @LurkerWithout

    Final Crisis had all the usual fun Morrison themes that people who are into his stuff saw. It’s like with Batman: RIP, which I liked a lot, but I think someone who approaches that without any kind of background in Grant’s pet subjects is probably just going to see it (and Final Crisis, or The Filth) as just being the rantings of a crazed homeless person who has been cheesing cat urine all night.

  11. I’ve read all of Invisibiles. Vimanramna is one of the most original and genius things in American comics. His runs on Justice League and Animal Man are goal posts other writers should aim for. Final Crisis, even ignoring all the tie-ins that don’t directly affect Grant’s story, was a giant fucking mess…