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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Nostalgia of an older anime and comics fan...

I haven't been able to get into Manga for a while now. When it first started making an impression here, back in the old Studio Proteus days (first with Eclipse then with Dark Horse) and Viz days, I couldn't get enough. Appleseed, Xenon, Fist Of The North Star, Cyber 7, Area 88, Mai The Psychic Girl.... Manga was the stuff I had been looking for my entire life. I was buying everything, and for the most part it was all good. (granted I was like 15 at the time). Then some time around the mid 90's, what was being brought over changed dramatically. It's partially because Japan wasn't really producing the type of sci-fi that really appealed to me, the hard core cyberpunk that didn't rely on mixing genres, and partly was because the American audience suffered a major shift. Anime and manga that appealed to me started getting more and more sparse, or maybe just lost in the tidal wave of new material.

Suddenly trying to find anime was like trying to find something decent on tv. The more channels you add to your cable subscription, the harder it is to find something you actually want to watch. Finally it just became such a pain to find anything that appeals to me I just gave up. For every Cowboy Bebop or Black Lagoon, there are hundreds of things that have no interest to me. Maybe its because I have gotten older and much more discerning, or maybe its due to the hipster effect, being on the fore front, loving something before anyone else has heard of or understands, and then it explodes in popularity, and suddenly your massive collection is irrelevant, because they can buy it all at walmart now. Gone are the days of introducing anime to someone who has never seen that animation could be more than children's media, or at best juvenile attempts at something more (Heavy Metal) or standard sitcoms hiding behind animation (The Simpsons). I used to wish it was easier to get anime and manga here, then it was... be careful what you wish for I guess. Where once I was on the forefront of the scene, starting clubs, trading my hundreds of already poorly dubbed bootlegs with other fans, introducing people... now I am so out of touch as to be completely irrelevant.

And in a weird way, I am cool with that.

It passed me by, it out grew me and my interests. I still scan the anime selection of Netflix, and I watch the anime recommendation threads in the hopes that someone will recommend something that appeals to me, but its really gotten to the point that I pretty much own everything that would really interest me. The only thing I am really waiting for is the latest Appleseed, in the hopes that they will finally do something that does justice to the original books, but I am not getting my hopes up. As much as I loved the visuals of the big budget cgi film, its spot as number one on my list of faves is more due to nepotism than the actual quality of the film. I watch it thinking what it could have been, not what it actually was.

American are reaching the same point with me. I buy a lot of trades, but up until recently, I was still doing my part, buying the original issues first, to support the industry. My budget on comics has dropped significantly, 4 years ago I was spending 50 bucks a week on comics, then it dropped down to 100 a month as I started ordering online (which with the 40% discount comes out to about the same). But as the economy grew tighter, as we started having more and more financial crisis's at home, my budget for comics is $50 at the absolute most. And honestly, it was an easy transition to make.

Marvel titles had been losing my interest for years, pretty much since Civil War and the continuous tie in event crap that followed even to this day. DC was just as bad with the tie-in nonsense, but they seemed to actually be going somewhere with it, so I gave them more of a chance. Then, after slogging through all of Grant Morrison and Dan Diddio's revisionist crap, they up and went the whole New 52 route.... and that was pretty much the end of my association with DC proper.

With Marvel I just gradually found less and less titles that interested me. I was still holding on to Daredevil, Deadpool, Punisher, and X-factor, as well as some of the ultimate books... but one by one, I just stopped caring for the direction they were taking. As series ended only to be rebooted, I just dropped them. With DC, right up until the new 52, I was still buying dozens of titles. Birds of Prey, Jonah Hex, Secret Six, they were my must reads every month... Then 52 came out, and virtually every title, every character I really cared about in the DC universe was changed for the worse. on top of it, New 52 was such a backwards ass reboot of the universe, that suddenly it became impossible to have a clue what was going on. Say what you will about Crisis On Infinite Earths, but back then DC made great effort to catch people up and clue them in. They made great efforts to ensure that the stories were better... at least for a few years. New 42 just kind of shits all over everything. They took Barbara Gordon, one of the best female characters in comics, a role model not just for women, but disabled people... who had outgrown being just another derivative with tits character, and had become one of the most pivotal and important members of the superhero community despite being a behind the scenes player, and just slapped her in tights and a bat symbol again. And it wasn't even necessary, there was already 2 Batgirls running around, both of which were more interesting as Batgirl than Babs ever was, and a Batwoman... the quote for "Batman but with tits" was more than filled. Jonah Hex went from being the hard core western.... to Jonah Hex as Batman in a cowboy hat, completely with taking place in Gotham, and giving him a sidekick that ties into the batman lineage. Birds of Prey got a new line, but was ridiculous. Secret Six was swept under the rug. The new Suicide Squad had my interest, until I saw they turned Amanda Waller, one of the coolest, most intimidating background players in comics, and turned her into Halle Berry (Fuck you Smallville, I blame you for that one... I love Angela Basset, but fuck you). I could go on... like suddenly Batman is in his 20 again, but somehow has still had time to be solo, take on Dick Grayson, Grayson to go his own way, Jason Todd to come along, get killed, Tim Drake to come along, Damien to come along... I don't have a clue what the fuck is going on....

Hell, just the return of Bruce Wayne, even before new 52, caused me to stop buying the batman family of books pretty much as a whole...

Anyway, with new 52, I pretty much stopped buying DC altogether...

And now, I buy pretty much just trades. My order that arrived yesterday had to single issues, 6 trades. One was the last Ultimate X0men on my que, and the other was a book that caught my attention called freelancers.

With DMZ and Scalped done with their runs, I don't buy any Vertigo titles anymore...

So mostly what I am doing these days is buying either older trades, more independent or creator owned trades, or, on rare occasions recent trades from marvel or DC just to give what they are doing a fair shot, only to find that 9 times out of ten, my misgivings were completely correct. Blackhawks had an interesting premise, but ultimately sucked, Red Hood and the Outlaws... just sucked... if it were just Arsenal and Red Hood being vigilantes, I would probably dig it, but the super powers, the depiction of Starfire as a a nymphomaniac alien crossed with the forgetful fish from Finding Nemo... just fucking awful.... I am giving Suicide a second chance and getting the second trade, because it was at least interesting, even if Waller was ruined... but I am not keeping my hopes up. I don't mind cheesecake, and I am a fan of fanservice. Hell I own some anime just for the abundance of panty shots. But the rampant blatant misogyny, especially from DC bugs even me. Marvel does better, but Marvel has just become boring to me.

In the end, its kind of weird feeling so disconnected from something that has been such an important part of my life for so long. I have a ridiculously huge comic collection. Every road trip ever taken with my family as a kid, mom get me a stack of comics to keep me behaved, even better she read comics of her own (Richie Rich, Little Lulu, Disney comics, and Archie Comics). I remember the first times I spent my own money, made the trips to t)he comics store on my bike. I remember feeling connected to my father in new and exciting ways when I would find my comics on his bed stand, and he would even buy his own (big fan of Savage Tales Magazine in the 80's). He bought me, without any clue as to what I actually liked and read, the Claremont/Miller Wolverine trade, Samurai, Son Of Death, and Night And The Enemy for me on my 16th Birthday. That not only legitimized comics for me, but it connected me to a man who I often felt very little in connection with, at a time when that connection was dimming fast due to his alcoholism. Hell comics got me through every tragedy I had as a kid. I read old Powerman and Iron fist comics in between visits with my dad while he was dying in the hospital. The point is, comic books have been a very real, very visceral part of my entire life. I can connect so many events in my life to them, to what I was reading at the time. And now...

Now I feel that interest waning, slipping away. I still love comics, I read them every day. I have a large collection of old duplicates I cycle through in the bathroom, I have a large collection of trades... but overall, they don't hold the importance, and I simply don't have the interest I once did.

I don't know if I like or not, it certainly makes me a little sad... but overall, its something I am ok with, and that makes me sadder than anything else.

Anyway, sorry to ramble on for so long, but I had a thought, and wanted to share. Hell it could be I am just depressed, the economy, my lack of a job, unemployment running out at the end of the month (year), my family situations... its a tough time. But unlike other tough times, its not comics that are getting me through it... And its not a matter of not wanting to find comics and anime interesting, I do... its just that like it or not, no matter how much I look, there is just so little that does anything for me, my tastes have become so narrow and there is just so little that appeals to me anymore...

Oh well, to anyone still reading... thanks for listening.

As for Cyberpunk news, sorry I haven't been posting more updates.  The good news it, I am almost done with The Guide To The Combat Zone, what will be the first part of my efforts to create a guide for every district on my Amalgamated Night City Map.  After this first section is done, I think I will take a break though, work on something else, maybe update miracle mile or weapons or something.  Just to do something simple to recharge my batteries as it were.  you will understand when you see the Guide To The Combat Zone and the Gangs of the Combat Zone companion (which may end up just being merged, haven't decided yet).  Either way, I know I have been silent, but trust me I have been hard at work.

Hope to talk to you soon with a more relevant update.

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