If you've read my comment in the "Introductions" neck of the Alterna REC Room forum, you'd know that for many years I distanced myself from comic books. There were a few reasons for doing so, but by far the biggest reason for my departure from the hobby I'd loved since early childhood was the sense that I was unwanted and even despised due to my personal and political beliefs. I'm certainly not going to stand on a soapbox and preach what I think, I've got too much respect for all of you and really, who cares? That's 100% NOT why I'm here in the Alterna REC Room. That said, and I think this next part goes without saying, the current environment in the comic book world is astonishingly toxic, and the fact that "pros" seemed so determined to alienate and even berate potential customers like myself caused me to throw in the towel and say "no mas". I quit. Never again. I've got plenty of old books to read. Not another penny will go into comic books.
Enter Alterna Comics. I discovered Alterna around 2015 through Twitter after one of my followers recommended their books. Thank goodness for that. Slowly and quietly, an interest in new comic books began to emerge. Now, I'm still pretty tepid at that point in time and to make things more complex, I've got a little boy.
Now, growing up at his age I was already begging my dad to get me a Superman comic off the spinner rack at the Christy's convenience store down the street while he was getting bread, milk and cigarettes. Back then, kids were actually a targeted audience for comic books. Every kid was, no matter what you looked like or who your mom and dad may or may not have voted for. Pretty bananas, right? However, today's comic climate is obviously nothing like that and now being completely decomposed into a Mad Max wasteland of bitterness and enmity, I had to seriously ask myself a difficult question: Do I introduce him to comic books?
Fifteen years ago, it would've been a no brainer but I had to think about what kind of environment I'd be potentially exposing him to. Thankfully, we have @Publishin' Pete! to thank for what happened next. I took a stab at reading him a Mr. Crypt comic and he LOVED it. We would read it every single night for months. That led to Mighty Mascots. That led to Gods and Gears. That led to The Actual Roger. And what it all ultimately led to was a reignited love of the medium of comics. I got to see in him what I had experienced so long ago and it was beyond special. I'm forever grateful to everyone at Alterna for that.
So, all of that brings me to today and a trip to the local comic shop. Its the same one my dad would bring me to every few months when I was 12 and here I am 30 years later bringing my son. Kinda cool. Anyway, he and I get down to business and I tell him stay with me, what books do you think you might want, and please whatever you do don't touch anything. Because new comic books by and large aren't geared towards kids anymore, we tend to rifle through the back issue "buck book" bins. If its anything mid-1990's or earlier it's likely going to be ok for him to read and if it's from the 80's, hot damn we've struck gold. Now, the manager of the store is a great guy and I've known him for at least 15 years. He also knows how to pressure you into buying something. For years and years he'd stop over with a floppy or a trade and practically guilt me into buying them. Today, while little guy was looking at Funkos, he comes over and asks "Has it been awhile since you've read a Doctor Strange story?" ( FYI- I'm a Doctor Strange NUT ) to which I reply "Yeah, it's been awhile". He then proceeds to hand me a brand new Strange trade written by Donny Cates and starts in with the sales pitch.
I'm holding this trade and I've got less than zero interest. I not only won't buy it, I refuse to. I hand it back to him and say "Yeah, I think I'm all set. I'm good." He starts in again, and even points to Donnie's name. I give him the same answer and add "I'm kinda done with Marvel." He was dumbfounded. He let out an incredulous "Why?!?", to which I replied "How much time do you got?". As nicely as possible, I tell him "Marvel doesn't want my money. I've been told by creators directly on Twitter. They don't want it and I don't want to give it to them, so I'm sorry, but I'm all set." I also told him that "Disney is a 4 letter word in my house" which got a confused look and another "Why?!?" and after another no thanks, he walked away.
It felt a bit mixed after that. On one hand, I was glad I stood my ground and said no. I literally wanted nothing to do with that book, other than to douse it with holy water. As far as this guy is concerned, I'm more than happy to not give them what they apparently don't want. Which leads me to the other hand, where I actually felt a bit sad not wanting anything to do with that book. I love Doctor Strange. Why should I not want to read this? I mean, whatever was in that book wasn't going to be as good as Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. I know the difference between AC/DC and a cover band called DC/AC. But even for the sake of curiosity, it's a bummer not to want to know if there's anything to it.
Little guy left the comic shop this afternoon with two Archie comics, a huge Archie omnibus, four comics from the Buck Bin and a Super Mario figurine. Nothing for me. Anyway, I'm all done with this diatribe. If you're still here, God bless you. Today was a weird day, I just needed to vent. Go ahead and copy / paste this 2 hour rant, put it alongside 25 illustrations of basically the same exact face and you'll have what passes today as a Marvel comic book. I'll see you around.