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Gravity Always Wins
There's two different ways that we can go about this. The first is to go cold turkey. Do what I did, for the first step; decide to move to the other side of your country (if you live in Luxembourg or Lichtenstein, yes that does just mean down the street. So, consider moving to a new country). Steps Two through Ten involve not buying any comics whatsoever.
Yes, that is the smart ass answer. If you consider comic books too precious to give up, continue reading on. If you consider yourself a "comics activist" or a "comics pimp". Punch yourself in the face and then jump off a bridge. You're a waste of fucking space and the hospitals are just too crowded to institutionalise you. If you love the artform, great, just don't make an ass of yourself about it.
Keep in mind, that these are steps to stop "collecting" comics, not "reading" them. Before I begin, I should probably give you a definition of terms. By "collecting comics", I mean that you obsess over them. You keep them in polybags, sealed with tape, and cringe when someone other than you even looks at them. You probably have a complete run of Uncanny X-Men despite whining and bitching that almost every issue is complete and utter gutter trash. Basically, you just keep accumulating them, despite very minimal enjoyment of them anymore.
1 -- Admit that you have a problem
If you're buying roughly ten titles a week, you're spending at least $30 on comics a week, $120 a month, or $1440 a year. That's honestly not a hell of a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but think of it like this: of those ten titles a week, you spent maybe five to ten minutes reading each issue. We'll be generous and say that those ten comics take up two hours of time per week. That's four days entertainment for just over $1400. Doesn't that seem a little steep to anyone else?
Of those four days you spent reading comics, if we're going by the 99% rule; if you bought 520 comics, only about 5 of them were actually any good. Even saying that each one took you fifteen minutes to read, that's still only just over an hour of the "good stuff". A signal to noise ratio of 103:1 is just a little much. You need to trim the fat off. Get rid of the crap. For god's sake: STOP BUYING MARVEL COMICS.
Ahem...where were we?
2 -- Look for a solution
That's partially why you're here and still reading this, right? As I said previously, most of you junkies are just looking for a reason, any reason to stop. That's why you have people posting on message boards whenever a new creative team takes over a book, or some announcement comes down the pipeline that Wolverine's going to be getting a new hat or something equally asinine, that "This is my last issue ever! I'm never going to buy an issue of Wolverine with Alan Moore's name on it, damn it! I mean, haven't you heard that he believes in magic! ...and he's English too!" Of course, after that grandiose statement -- completely missing the point too -- the person making it continues to buy the comic anyway. Like little lambs to a bloody slaughter.
It's not easy to be a leader. It's not easy to find your own path and your own way. It's easier just to follow someone else's example. So, barring going through Previews every month, poring over every minute detail of every else, part of looking for a solution can be finding the right outlet for intelligent discourse on comics. If the mouthpieces' names rhyme with Dandy, Ron, or Smoggie, you've strayed way of course and you're smack dab in the clutches of the very people who will advocate the 99% of crap. 10 out of 10 BEST OF THE WEEK!
Reading the stuff here is at least a good start. Reading me at d-generation is even better, although most of the time I'm not going to be writing about comics anymore.
3 -- Buy The Comics Journal
No, really. Dirk Deppey didn't pay me anything to say that. Really, honest.
Since taking over as editor -- and really, Milo did a pretty damn good job himself -- Dirk's taking a rather multitudinous approach to the magazine. If you think it's an effete trade rag putting on airs, do us a favour and never voice your opinion again. Go back to sniffing glue and fucking sheep. Read the articles and reviews, go to a comic store and demand that they order you copies of the reviewed material. If they refuse, or tell you that an individual book is sold out, fuck them. Fuck them in their tiny assholes (see step 7).
4 -- Buy independent comics
If it has a name on it like Fantagraphics, Alternative, Slave Labour Graphics, ONI Press, AdHouse Books, Absence of Ink, Drawn & Quarterly, or Top Shelf and comes in an odd size or shape and/or has a spine, you're in good company. Now, one cannot guarantee that everything published by these publishing houses will be good, but I can guarantee that of those six good comics published in a year you bought, all of them were published by one of these companies.
5 -- Quit with the fucking bags and boards already
You're meant to be reading these things, not preserving them for countless generations of people who are going to idolise the issue of Spider-Man where Peter Parker whines about his lot in life and punches a bad guy. That's every bloody issue. Get over it. If you're worried about the condition of the book, here's a simple rule: stop buying books that might as well be printed on glossy tissue paper. That'll cut out most of "mainstream" comicdom. Don't be afraid to toss a comic halfway across a room to see who can get theirs closest to the wall.
Once you stop treating them like found treasure, you might actually start realising how crappy is a lot of the content.
6 -- Two simple words: Forlorn Funnies
If you're not down with Paul Hornschemeier by now, you're not worth my time. Even if you only buy one comic this year, make sure it's one of his. If you already have all of his work, buy it and read it again. Pass it on to a friend. You can get more out of re-reading Mother, Come Home than you can on three decades worth of X-Men comics. Seriously.
7 -- Find a store that will support your choice
Sometimes it's really difficult, actually, and this should probably be one of the more prominent things on the list. The average comic shop out there probably carries copious amounts of the "mainstream" company books and will look at you sideways if you try to ask for something more "independent" than an Image comic. Screw the retailers who won't order you comics that you want out of Previews. Screw them in their tiny assholes. (Er, didn't I just say that?)
There are good stores out there. Just take a look at The Beguiling in Toronto. That's a kick ass store and you can check out their pretty little website. It may take a little legwork, but it can be done. A simple rule would be, ask them if they've got a copy of this month's TCJ for you to look at. If they do, or better yet have staff that have already read it and are anxious to talk about it, you're probably in good hands. If they don't, if they ask you what it is, or if they offer you an issue of Wizard instead: RUN AWAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN.
8 -- Start a discourse
That could mean starting up your own blog or website, or just posting on the various message boards all around. Think of the various materials that you're reading and start writing about them at a level beyond that "who'd win?" question. Once you realise that you simply can't elevate many of the "mainstream" stuff to a level of serious discussion, maybe you'll start dropping them like flies and moving on to something more meaningful. Something that you can actually sink your teeth into, rather that the sugar puffs volleyed up by the corporations.
Eventually, you'll probably gravitate toward people reading similar material, aimed at a similar goal, and you'll find out more wonderful books that you might not have come across yourself.
Besides, we need someone out there to put a little bit of snark back into reviewing. Alan used to be good at that, but he seems to have mellowed a bit. It's probably good for him that he's done so, but it would be nice if someone could fill the "last angry man" void.
9 -- Don't settle
If a comic book sucks or doesn't fully engage you -- now here's the tricky part -- don't buy the next issue. It's really that simple. Don't sit around waiting for something to get better, it isn't. Read something else.
10 -- If all else fails...
Just start drinking copious amounts of alcohol. You'll either be too drunk to care about comics, in a rehabilitation centre for recovering alcoholics, or too tapped out on cash because all your money went to buying cases of JD to even think of buying a comic.
...and that, ladies and gentlemen has been our show for the evening.