Sunday, July 18, 2004

Comic book friends are hard to find

This is sort of a personal, more diaryish entry today, done more to help me sort my thoughts rather than offer criticism. It is about the wonder I had of finding a friend whose comic tastes matched mine, and opened up new doors in comics that I never knew existed.

I live in a very rural area, and comic books just aren't a very big deal here. I loved them, but found trying to find someone to talk comics with very hard.

I tried at the comic shops at first, yet the fans in this area only seemed interested in the corporate X-titles type books or the very odd blood and boobs books like Lady Death and the like. Which I've never had a huge amount of interest in.

When I got online I was thrilled to see so many forums dedicated to comics, yet still found myself a little apart at first. Many of the places had their own little communities of which it was hard to become accepted into.

Or they were filled with fans who just sort of bothered me because of their oddness of behavior.

The DC Message boards are prime examples of this, be it the ones afraid of change to the point that anything new and anyone supportive of it are hammered. Or just the mindless, sexists, bigots, who have no clue as to how to deal with other people. It just made for an unpleasant place to visit and chat about comics with.

There are good folks there, but they get drowned out by the loudmouths who the moderators let run free. Plus even the good ones still mainly use made up screen names.

I've always had a problem talking with people who use screen names rather than their own names to discuss things. It just creates a detachment that for some reason or another makes it hard for me to take them seriously.

Still one day I lucked out and found a friend who I just clicked with. We seemed to like many of the same comics, shared similar views on the problems we saw and just seemed to really get along well.

It was just amazing to find someone who matched me in a medium where I always felt like an outsider. After all, I wasn't a long time reader so didn't like or know a lot about the heavy continuity or all time greats books that so many readers have a history with.

I also always found that most of the really popular books like X-Men or Spawn to be really poor works. Yet when I would see how well they sold, I thought something must just be wrong with me or my tastes. Having a friend who felt the same way made things okay though, just to know that I wasn't alone in what I liked or didn't was a good feeling.

Through my friend I got suggestions on things to try, many of which were these odd b&w small press comics which I had never heard of before. Which just amazed me because they offered content that I had never expected to see in comic book form. It was like someone turning on a light in a dark room, and opened my eyes to a whole new world.

For years it was great to have someone to chat with, get/make suggestions from/to, trade stuff with and just know what I was talking about no matter the topic. I would make other friends who were into comics as well, but none that just clicked in such a similar way.

Unfortunately in recent months, my friend's time to talk with me has lessoned to the point where it is almost nonexistent. Which while I understand completely, is sort of hard to deal with because this friendship helped opened so many doors for me. I probably wouldn't even still be interested in comics without this friendship.

Yet I'm trying to move forward, and while I hope to not lose my friend from my life completely, am trying to find things that while won't replace that level of friendship can offer similar things. Looking on the various forums I've only found two places that I really enjoy though.

One is the Usenet, Rec.arts.comics sections, where the fans tend to go by their real names and the discussion of industry topics is strong. The other is the The Grotesque Rampage Forum which is run by John Jakala. It offers a great bunch of people, it isn't a huge group but the participants are all very interesting and fun to know.

Which in the end is a good thing, because when I first got online I was mainly looking for interesting comic discussion with intelligent people.

1 comment:

John Jakala said...

I'm glad you like the Grotesque Rampage Forum, James. I'm certainly glad that you've been active there. And it is a smaller group, but I like that I don't have to wade through a lot of filler posts to follow the discussion.

And I agree with you about real names vs. screen names. For whatever reason, it's easier for me to form a mental placeholder for someone using their real name than it is to track/remember "GLfan4352."