It’s #SignalBoostSunday! Follow the link to find creators to support.
I’ve often talked about the high degree of “comic book insecurity” I had as a young fan. That is, for a variety of reasons, when I was a kid I didn’t have stable, secure access to new comics. There were no comic shops within hundreds of miles of where I lived – a “comic book store” might as well have been as mythical as Avalon when I was a kid – so most of my comic-book-buying was done at grocery stores and gas stations where the selection in terms of quality and quantity was less than ideal, particularly given that none of the places that sold new comics was within walking or biking distance.
Naturally, that made it tricky for me to get extended or complete runs of any given comic. There was a period of months during which I never made it to the paltry selection of comics at our usual grocery store in time to pick up an issue of The Uncanny X-Men, and picking up every issue of a maxi-series was especially challenging. Even when I succeeded, if it was a crossover “event” there was NO chance of me picking up every tie-in comic.
However, I did my best to snag everything that tied in to Crisis on Infinite Earths, but while it was a worthy effort – and I did incredibly well, I think – getting every comic was just impossible, given that some of the comics, such as Infinity, Inc., simply weren’t available to me, as they were sold exclusively on the direct market.
With that in mind, I recently ordered the Deluxe Edition of the Crisis on Infinite Earths Companion, and pre-ordered the upcoming second edition.
I mention this because I see so much chatter from bitter, angry people about how “comics are dying” and “SJWs are ruining comics” and meanwhile I encounter things like the Companion and remember what things were like for me as a young fan and as I think about what’s out there, in terms of content and the options for finding and acquiring said content, and I can’t help but be reminded of the fact that comics are better than they’ve ever been in my 40+ years of being a fan.
Speaking of how things were when I was a younger fan, you know what I miss? Comic Buyer’s Guide.
Comic Buyer’s Guide, or CBG, was a weekly publication that was in many ways the beating heart of fandom. Even the ads were great, because they told you about exciting new things happening in comics – “Hey, that new ‘Hellboy’ thing looks interesting. What are those things on his head? Goggles?” – but it had a lot more going for it than that.
Cool articles, interviews, price guides – you name it. If it was about comics, it was in CBG. Beyond that, in those days long before the existence of social media the letters page provided a way for fans to connect with pros, many of the latter of which wrote in week after week, providing some insider information and, sometimes, delicious gossip and the airing of grievances.
(I remember well the high drama of the early days of Image Comics. Contentious – but fun – times indeed.)
The weekly production schedule gave it a certain currency – by which I mean it felt current – and the newspaper format made you feel like a grown up when you were reading it.
I discovered CBG as a kid thanks to the mail-in ballots for their fan awards that they ran every year in most comics. If you sent in your vote, they would mail you a free copy of the issue containing the results.
I remember well the first time young Jon got his hands on that awards issue. Beyond being delighted when my selections won – and annoyed when they didn’t – I found that newspaper about comics to be a revelation, getting my first inkling that the world of comics was so much larger than I had ever imagined.
While the format is very different, the spirit of CBG was very much on my mind when I launched The Spinner Rack.
I harbor no illusions that my humble link-aggregator will ever become as vital and beloved an institution as CBG, but it seems like the very least I can do to help perform some of the functions and honor the memory of something that meant so much to me and so many others.
And who knows? Maybe with your help it can achieve at least some small measure of greatness.
This past week my local comic shop did a midnight opening in support of the first issue of The War of the Realms, and, despite the lateness of the hour, I decided to participate.
It paid off, in that I got to meet the Odinson himself!
And also I picked up the comic, which gets the long-awaited/long-dreaded war off to an auspicious start, and I’m glad to see the Realms and their inhabitants once more being illustrated by the great Russell Dauterman.
That brief bit of praise for a new comic is as close as you’re going to get to a Spotlight post today, but I will return to having regularly-scheduled Spotlight Sunday posts.
In the meantime, I’m going to go read some comics.