Is this a Shit-Knife I see before me?
(Soundtrack: New Kingdom–Paradise Don’t Come Cheap)
Question–has anyone written anything about “anti-fanboyism” in comics? I’m thinking about the distinctly complicitous relationship that exists between a site like Fanboy Rampage and all of those superhero-centered messageboards that I would never in a million years even think about visiting if people like Graeme didn’t link to them…
Now, you might think that this is just Fiore trying to start trouble with “elitists” again (the only reaction to my comment on the latest Rampage post was “Motime was here”–I have no idea how to take that, but I know it ain’t conversation!), but it’s nothing of the sort! What it is, my friends, is a serious invitation to the more enlightened members of the North American comics community to consider what the figure of “the fanboy” means to them–and, furthermore, to ponder whether they can do without “him”. Why do people like Daniel Clowes waste their time parodying superheroes? (and, perhaps more importantly, why does Alan David Doane focus so obsessively upon this aspect of Eightball #23?) Why does every comic book fan who hopes to be taken seriously by her or his peers have to come forward with a “conversion narrative”, with the moment that they “realized that there is a whole world of art beyond the confines of the Marvel Universe” standing in for “God’s caress”? I understand that there are problems with the direct market and the public’s perception that “comics=superheroes” (although, on second thought, scratch that! I’m pretty sure that, if you conducted empirical research, you’d find that the average North American equates comics with the newspaper strips) Still, I don’t think this fully accounts for the pathological imperative, on the part of comics cognoscenti in general, to construct “Marvel Zombiedom” as a stage on the road to aesthetic maturity.
For a perfect example of this, see Bart Beaty’s essay on Cerebus in the latest TCJ (on the whole, I’m enjoying the issue immensely, by the way)… R. Fiore’s essay is even more mindlessly locked into this mode, while seemingly protesting against it (we won’t even bother to get into the question of what you “can” or “can’t do” with a narrative involving a “giant squirrel”!!)–imagine treating Sim’s Marvel parodies as anything like the heart of the graphic novel’s achievement! Sure, these little performances may have brought in some readers, but anyone who isn’t blinded by the weird politics of this subculture can see that they’re more important for what they reveal about the Roach than for what they say about “corporate comics”… Fiore is asking Sim to take the fall–unjustly!– for the entire North American comics community’s tendency to muddy the critical terrain by overemphasizing every work’s relationship to superheroes… (I’ll get back to Cerebus as soon as I can, friends, believe me!)
So! “Marvel” is something you “outgrow”. When you turn twelve. Or (as many of these folks like to put it) when you “discover girls”. And there is no going back! Oh, you can wax nostalgic about superheroes in an ironical way, and even buy all of the new issues of whatever titles you followed when you were a stupid punk who didn’t know any better, as long as you are careful to maintain an “oh, look how much money I’m wasting now” smirk on your face. The “fanboy” is the “mudsill class” of the comic book world–the “body in the foundation” of any enlightened fan’s self-respect. If “he” didn’t exist, they’d have to invent “him”. And, quite frankly, when I do glance at those Newsarama boards, I can’t help thinking that someone has! Extra copies “in case the pages stick together”?–get real!
Good Night Friends!