When I was a little kid, my first big fandom was Star Wars. I was pretty much obsessed (and still am). It’s still my favorite. But growing up, in that long drought between movies, I needed other stuff, too. Not counting the special edition releases, we had to wait from 1983 to 1999 for a new movie! The expanded universe books were great in the meantime, but I needed more adventures.
It was during this time that I came to love American comics. The X-Men and Batman especially. I had a blast reading and collecting all of the great stories of the 90’s. It was my first really deep foray into comics in general. I came to love so many of the characters and I still love them down to this day. I was captivated. The characters became like good friends to me. Instead of code-names, I normally thought of them by their “real” names. Bruce, Logan, Betsy, Ororo, Scott and Jean were a few that I were a few that I became really attached to. Their lives were a part of mine. I remember being worried sick (literally sick in the stomach) after Wolverine had the adamantium pulled from his bones and out through his skin by Magneto – having to wait until the next issue to see if he’d survive was agonizing.
But eventually my friends and I grew apart. Why? I think it was a number of reasons that all added up:
The increasing cost of comics. When I was a kid, I had a very limited budget which limited me to a few titles a month. The steadily increasing costs made it harder at this point in my life.
Batman #489 was the first comic I ever bought. Just $1.25!
Too many crossovers. While I was always super excited to have my heroes join up with other teams, the crossovers just got to be too much and too overwhelming for me. Sadly, I just couldn’t keep up with them. This is where I began to fall off.
Too many titles. An example is the years I was able to keep up with my X-Men (and Wolvie) with just 3 books a month (X-Men, Uncanny X-Men & Wolverine). The two strike teams kept it nice and simple, and for the most part (aside from an occasional guest appearance or Annual), I always knew what was going on with my team for about $3.75 a month or so. A couple times, years later, there were far more, which made getting back into reading a daunting task for me. This is also closely related to my next reason…
Reboots and alternate universes. This was really big right when I was attempting to get back into it. I didn’t want new versions. I just wanted to catch up with the friends of my childhood. More of a good thing is great, sure. But this made it more confusing for me personally. For a while I read synopses to sort of keep up with what was happening with the original timelines over all, but even that seemed to be a mess at times.
I’ve wanted to find a point to jump back in, perhaps catching up with trade paperbacks, but at this point there was just so much, that again, it was overwhelming.
The simplicity (by comparison) of manga. Not many years after being into American comics I discovered Anime. I was captivated again. In turn I got into manga, which was so much easier to keep up with. There are some exceptions, of course. But overall the simplicity in single storylines kept me coming back and gradually this is where I really drew further away from my beloved comics.
Real life and too much of many good things. So I’m grown up now. I could manage to buy multiple titles a month again (even at around $2.99 a pop). But there’s just so much of everything. When I was a kid, it was limited funds. Now that I’m an adult (not to mention a dad), it’s time that is limited. Especially time for fun stuff. Whether it’s comics, books, games, anime or movies, there is way too much of everything to even hope to keep up with!
Indie comics and short stories. …Another thing I have really enjoyed over my old favorites in recent years. Short stories (like a lot of manga) are a lot less daunting for me personally since they require a much shorter time commitment. Also, discovering and supporting indie comics, artists and writers has been not only a fun part of the community but a refreshing change and an opportunity to support cool people!
So in conclusion, all of this stuff has added up over the years and sent my heroes/old friends and I on different paths. Maybe some day we’ll meet up again (we occasionally do for a trade paperback or even a movie), but they’ll always be heroes and friends!
For all of you comic readers, how have you kept up over the years? What titles have you stuck with or moved onto?