This is something that has gone intrinsically wrong with fandom. There were always those who invested far too much emotionally in the stories and characters, but they were few in number and mostly inhabited the fringes.
But the audience shrank—mostly due to increasing costs—and those deeply hardcore fans moved closer to the center AND increased in numbers, proportionately. They also got older, and their focus on the “value” of the comics as “collector’s items” increased. The kids who started reading when they were five or six and drifted away by the time the were in their early teens (“when they noticed girls”) were replace by customers who were steadily too old for the hobby.
The proliferation of comic book conventions—once small and rare—built an organized infrastructure composed of more and more people who assumed a PROPRIETORIAL stance. They were not “just” consumers. They were IN CHARGE. And with the birth of the Direct Sales Market, that actually became TRUE!
Maybe there could be a course taught in elementary schools about projecting... people seem to get virtual things very confused with real world in some inappropriate ways (putting people they have never met in-person on trial with all manner of very personal accusations) and yet get some other things like not being a fantasy character themself messed up (whether extreme costume wearers or numerous online personas writing or acting like they might never dare to in reality).
I guess this is part of the problem of where we are as a culture (the western world). I grew up on the cusp of it in some ways, and when I first experienced a few sf/comics conventions, as well as read fanzines and those lettercols (flame wars before the internet), I decided to use pen names for art and writing. I enjoyed the doing and then sending it off and maybe seeing it later in hard copy, didn't mind hearing feedback, enjoying if it was critical in a thoughtful way that was useful, but I didn't want (need?) the personal aspect (except enjoying collaborating/working with someone else)... the work was not 'me' in the sense of my self worth or ego depending upon it as I saw with some others; I enjoyed doing something well, or it selling the few times that was part of it. The one time I was a guest at a convention I was using the time to finish some work in front of people, not acting to make pals or hard sell anything. That bit of separation with a pen name is healthy; I've read about Coleen Doran and some others' very negative fan experiences, who wants that? The publisher forwards any letters/press and makes the cheque/check out in your genuine name. I can well imagine how earlier, even with some fanzines and conventions around, nobody really thought about needing a pen name for comic book work, I've dared to comment on how absurd the literary aspirations for the form are with some, they usually have not read much Dostoevsky, Hardy, or other authors' works which are very unlike what comics are best at, nor probably spent time in front of great works of Art sans deadlines, to understand that when you have codenames and costumes and powers or talking animals you usually do not have something with a lasting profundity for the lives of human beings in all their complexity (talking animals the lesser of which this is true oddly). The form is a short hand at best in my opinion, it is inherently light and yet, ideally, so approachable too. Done well it can be a wonder and lead to rapturous enjoyment, but if you do have something of greatness to sensitize and impart to an adult fellow human it is an unlikely format with which to find them via. Being read as such when it was not the creators' intent is an increasing hazard perhaps starting with Gary Groth's Comics Journal?
I've had the merest taste and I know I can't imagine what some others deal with. Red Skelton had a bit where he's going to sing a song and before he does he puts earplugs in his ears. He's heard it before and doesn't care for it! It's something like that. It might be an idea not to read your own press, they get big things very wrong often (again, my very slight experience) stating as facts things they absolutely cannot know. I've seen authors go very much off a deep end wanting to fight such 'attacks', not just point them out but to unmask the fool. If you go there you become part of the fool act, so probably best to simply note and sigh.
I like this forum because I do enjoy quality comic books, even superhero ones, and despite a few bruises I can be 'me' fully which includes things political and spiritual. If I had a lot of work out there also under my name though I think that could complicate things enormously, people could read into it, project, get messy, inappropriate. I think that's what they do, going into a depth that is just not appropriate to the work (and I have stacks of it). Being put on trial by a fan or fans is too much a Stephen King novel... scary! :^O
Geez, sorry to be so long-winded again... I enjoy the doing; read or discard as you wish of course.
Edited by Rebecca Jansen on 22 June 2022 at 4:52pm
Years ago, I was on another message board where a couple of guys called John Byrne a racist. The reason they offered was that he had never created any Black characters. (Let's ignore the fact that not creating a comic book character of a different race doesn't make a person racist.)
I listed a few off the top of my head, proving the assertion false. No matter. Instead of saying he was wrong, or even just mistaken, one guy said that maybe John Byrne created a couple of Black characters, but still...
No. Not maybe. He has. I just shared some examples, and that gives lie to the whole crux of your argument that John Byrne is racist!
I was labeled a Byrne apologist just for pointing out that assertion wasn't true.
Something similar happened again on a different forum a few weeks after that, and even though the discussion wasn't as combative, it was still frustrating to see that facts don't matter when someone is invested in perpetuating a lie.
I've been a member of the JBF for a long time, and was part of the older board as well. I don't recall anyone ever being kicked off for simply disagreeing with John Byrne.
What I have seen in the past is that some people joined the forum for the express purpose of challenging John Byrne, and made a horse's rear end of themselves in their efforts to show him up in his own house. Not only is that incredibly disruptive and rude, but it interferes with the ability of members to enjoy their interaction with the man and others who enjoy his work.
Some take issue with corporations today employing in advertising all ethnicities and races and genders, etc., as if that's a merely a sop, to in protest note what others had facilely voiced thus: well, Obama became President, so, there you go, no more racism in America -- and that viewpoint is in that regard understandable.
But... still, in terms of advertising, and the casual, subtle effect it has on everybody, to show all the time, without any fanfare, as just a given fact of life an interracial couple, or two gay parents, etc. -- it's definitely much (much!) better now than before.
While that may very well be true, Michael, you can be sure the companies did their bean counting to make sure that more intended consumers are being attracted than repelled by airing those "enlightened" ads, as one would expect in a market driven capitalist system.
Kind of like Branch Rickie's main motivation (according to him) for recruiting Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers was to win more baseball games. The historic part of it was just a bonus.