Prologue (1st Feb 2007)
For me, the development of mainstream comics in 2006 very much reflected trends in real life, but not in a good way.
You don't need to be an armchair economist to appreciate that, in the UK at least, we have developed an unhealthy debt culture. As much as anyone, I've been guilty of relying on my credit card, spending as much or more than my income, month in and month out. Buy one get one free, new luxury recipe, 10% off during weekdays. I'll happily admit, I got suckered by it all.
Comics have been the same story; thanks to "essential" company-spanning storylines like 'Infinite Crisis' and 'Civil War', my monthly comics budget bloated from a modest £40 per month up to £80 - £90 per month. Although these storylines were supposedly told in 7 or so core issues, the reality was that for half a year the media hype-machine, through internet trade sites, comic shop promotions, prequels, spin-offs and incomplete/ fractual storytelling, coerced the casual punters into buying dozens of second string titles they would not normally give the time of day to. Over the course of the last 18 months I found that super-hero comics from DC and Marvel had monopolised my comics budget. It would be unfair of me to say that I didn't get any enjoyment atall out of these events; a lot of very talented people put a lot of time into engineering them to entertain. But that was largely the problem- the editorially driven, written by committee comics were far less than the sum of their parts. And all the bloody adverts were getting on my tits.
So this is how, like the old-timer who constantly bemoans "it wasn't like this in my day", I found myself pining for the comics of my childhood. But why complain, when I've still got those very comics stored away in bags and boxes in the spare room? After all, a comic is for life, not just for Christmas. Now, when my bank balance is at an all time low, I can't wait to re-read some of those old books; after a casual browse I've found dozens that I completely forgot I even own. I almost feel ashamed for neglecting these so badly; so many books deserve to be recognised for their quirks, strengths, charms and qualities which keep us coming back to them.
This is the story behind these monologues. I can only hope that this newfound pragmatism might rub off onto my spending habits sometime soon too.