Hey, you! Yes, you! Do comics leave you feeling listless and uninspired? Is your reading matter flat, lifeless and dull? Well, tough, says Alasdair Watson. The first flush of love was bound to fade eventually.
07 November 2003

In a Triple A a while back, I said that I was bored with comics. In a post on his Delphi forum, CHANNEL ZERO creator Brian Wood not unreasonably asked, "How much more can this person tell me?"

Aside from the fact that, well, I'm not really here to tell anyone anything - if I provide an entertaining diversion with your morning coffee, I've done my job as I see it, though if I can make someone think into the bargin, it's plus - it's something that's been bugging me for a while as well. If I'm bored with comics, as I am, and have been for some time now, then do I have anything relevant to say?

Well, naturally my answer is yes, because, y'know, I have an ego the size of Neptune, and it wasn't going to let me answer that with a no. Being bored with comics is as valid a reaction to the output of the medium as any other. So I started to think about why I'm bored with comics, and came to the conclusion that it's not that I'm exactly bored, just that my interest has subsided from the levels it was at a few years back, and indeed, the level of interest that seems prevalent in most online discussion.

'I think about the comic shop in a similar way to the bookshop.' I don't think I'm atypical in this regard. I know a lot of people who read comics, write comics and write about reading comics, and a lot of them are reporting the same kind of feeling. A bit of burnout, and a bit of general ennui compared with a few years ago.

It's not like I'm not still reading comics, because I am. And if the quantity of them I'm reading has dropped from a few years back, well, it's not by much. But I am finding that while, a few years ago, there was something I was really excited about out every week, these days it's one week in three that has me thinking, "Oh, I really must get to the shop this week" just to buy one or two comics. Like I say, comics don't excite me in the way they did a couple of years ago.

But I think this is a good thing. After years of saying things like, "Comics should be more like books", I think they finally are approaching that state. I think about a trip to the comic shop in a pretty similar way to a trip to the bookshop, these days. If I'm in an urban centre that has a bookshop, then I'll stop in, and see what there is on the shelves that I want to buy, and lately, I find I do much the same thing with a comic shop. Like I say, there's still a few things that I keep a note of when they come out, in order to get down there and buy them that day, in much the same way that there are a few novelists whose work I pre-order from Amazon as soon as I hear they've got a new book on the way.

But other than that, I take comics for granted. They'll be there when I want something new to read. By word of mouth, I'll hear about stuff that's good, and if there's a trade, I'll get around to picking it up at some point when I'm in a comic shop looking for something to buy. There's no hurry.

'There's a bit of general ennui compared with a few years ago.' This can, and does, mean that I've missed out on some stuff. My life remains broadly complete, in much the same way that it does despite the fact that I don't buy The Idler, and therefore didn't get to read Bill & Zed's Bad Advice, despite that fact that I love their other work (although in the course of looking for the name of their column, I've just discovered that it's available online). And it's not like I don't have other things to spend my money on. The only people that lose out are the people in comics who want my cash. And, y'know, it's mine, so they can just keep their grubby paws off, anyway.

Of course, it does mean that I've got a bit of problem when finding things to write about, because there's only room for so much frothing excitement in my life and the stuff that really excites me, pushes me to think and form opinions, and thus have something to write about is just as likely to be happening in other media as comics.

Still, in the spirit of feeling a bit less, I dunno, lethargic about comics, I thought I'd just take a couple of minutes to think about what really has excited me about comics this year.

Top of the list: Alan Moore's retirement. Now the big beardy weirdo has gone, maybe someone else will get all the awards. Seriously, though, I don't think I've made any secret of the fact that I love his audio CDs, or the comics based on them, and that general side of his output. Anything that gives him more time for that is something I welcome with open arms.

'There's only room for so much frothing excitement in my life.' Epic didn't so much excite me as amuse me. I'm sorry people got their hopes up, and I'm sorry it seems to have shat itself and died, and it doesn't appear to be working out as people had dreamed, but my god, it's been amusing to watch everyone run around shouting about it in so many different ways in such a short space of time.

And there have been a variety of announcements and/or debuts of various projects, exclusives and whatnot from various publishers that have pleased me, both because they are or sound like they could be interesting and entertaining, and also because they're by friends and acquaintances of mine, and I like to see my friends doing well, so y'know, that's nice.

And yeah, there've been a load of good books out this year. LUCIFER, QUEEN & COUNTRY, PROMETHEA, ORBITER, NEW X-MEN, PERSEPOLIS, BLANKETS, LOEG II, PLANETARY; the list goes on, and it's nice to be able to think that this year wasn't some kind of aberration. Next year will bring just as many diamonds.

Oh and one last thing: Yesterday, while propping up the bar at Winterfest, or whatever the one day comics convention in London was called, I saw a copy of the new edition of THE BUTTON MAN. I'm aware that, for various reasons, it's going to be pricier than it might have been, but fuck me; it's a gorgeous looking thing. Rebellion has really got it right with this one, following the album format that's popular in France, and it stand up very comfortably with anything Humanoids might put out. Please, please buy this, because I want to see more albums like this coming out of Rebellion, and, with any luck other publishers, too.

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