Somebody, Stop Me!

By | Tuesday, August 13, 2013 4 comments
I'm still reading an ebook about the British comics scene in the 1980s and '90s. It started off primarily about retailing, which was fine, but it's devolved into a rambling memoir of sorts. And it's gotten more and more difficult to slog through as it progresses. The grammar and punctuation gets worse. The side ramblings become less and less relevant. He keeps talking about this column he used to write and how it was well-received, and I can't help but think, "Seriously? How lousy must have the rest of the publication been if this crap was the highlight?"

He also has several anecdotes about dealings with comics professionals, and he seems to be putting forth a good effort to be as balanced as possible. And in reading it, I just get the impression that he's an aimless schlub who squandered several fortuituous breaks. By his own accounts, I'm frankly amazed that he had anything resembling a career in comics.

I'm towards the end of the book now, and he's largely dropped any pretense of trying to write history in favor of preaching what's wrong with the comics industry from his soapbox. To be fair, it's a few years old and hindsight clearly indicates that he was off-base, but I'm pretty sure I could've seen how wildly off-base he was, had I read it when it was first published too. For example, he talks about various articles he wrote detailing the comics industries in other countries, but then goes on to talk about how the comics industry in England has all but fallen apart because Marvel and DC aren't doing enough marketing, and maybe they could throw some money behind Wonder Woman as a way to encourage girls to read comics. I can't understand how someone who claims to have done a lot of research on other countries' comics could ignore those same aspects of the industry in his homeland. If nothing else, haven't we been seeing stories about how many girls flocked to manga for, like, the past decade now?

He's made the same mistake that so many other people have made -- equating "the comics industry" with "what Diamond distributes." It's not a distincition I realistic expect every comic fan to make, but for an alleged expert -- for someone who worked in comics retail and comics news publishing for over two decades -- I find the oversight baffling. He's been pontificating on "here's what's right and wrong" based exclusively, it seems, on his personal experience. Obviously, we're all limited to writing what we're aware of, but his whole book has been around what he himself has witnessed first-hand. There seems to be no real research or attempts at finding out what other people might think.

But while I'm reading his tripe and saying all this to myself, I have to step back and wonder if I do that. Does my writing come across as the woefully under-researched ramblings of a comics fan who posits my own experience as the gospel truth of how comics works? I certainly hope not, but please please please please tell me if it ever does! Please call 'bullshit' on me before I make an ass out of myself the waty this guy is doing in his book!
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Richard said...

I can at least promise that if you ever made a complete ass of yourself, I would stop reading your blog...and I've never felt the need to stop reading your blog.

Well, now I have to read it after that glowing review!

Since you ask, Phil Hall's blog is better than yours.

Well, I did read read it, eventually. It does need an editor, but at the same time I couldn't put it down. Perhaps it doesn't cross the pond so well.