Welcome, all you vagrants, to a very special edition of Tact is for the Weak, the article that is still waiting for a motherf**king title graphic!
For most people, turning 21 means one of two things: waking up the next morning in a pile of your own alcohol-induced vomit and/or feculence, and looking back on life in search of where you went wrong. However, for Tact is for the Weak’s 21st edition, it’s time I took a look back at the series already illustrious (or is it pusillanimous?) history, and revisit some thoughts I shared in that very first fateful column.
Specifically, it’s time to reevaluate why I do what I do.
Originally, Tact is for the Weak was intended to function as the bridge between the comic book industry and the comic book faniverse; to raise and address concerns pertaining to all aspects of the comic book industry, and hopefully change a few things. However, as time went on, it became clear that, despite the best of intentions, one teeny tiny column wasn’t going to change the world (hey, let’s be realistic here!). So, a few months in, I decided to sneakily maneuver the primary focus of the column away from the tempting-yet-fruitless island of comics criticism and whistle-blowing and more towards the overvisited-yet-still-explorable coast of humor writing (with, of course, a healthy dash of criticism and opinion remaining in the mix).
And, you can’t exactly blame me for the change in focus. Even with the disappearance of letter columns (which I really want to return!) within most comic books, there has been an advent of creator-managed online message boards (such as the forums on comicbloc.com, which is run by DC writer Geoff Johns and provides fan access to creators such as Johns himself, Ron Marz, Greg Rucka, Rags Morales, Howard Porter, and Ethan van Sciver) and a multitude of fan-accessible forums (such as DC Comics’s online feature “Ask the Editors”) that ensure a way for fans to have their questions/comments addressed without ambushing editors at the next comic convention. Sure, if an issue becomes important enough, Tact is for the Weak will eagerly pick up the loose ends and tie them into a well-scripted editorial knot, but there are only so many remaining things that have the ability to irk the comic-buying public (remember, these are the same people who patiently waited for months if not years for the final issues of series such as Daredevil: Father, JLA/Avengers, Spider-man/Black Cat, and Green Lantern: Rebirth). Sure, I could probably get away with another five columns bashing Judd Winick, or bemoaning the distributing monopoly held by Diamond Comics Distributors (who should be receiving a lovely fruit basket in the mail at some point) yet again, but that would be a disservice to you, the readers.
You see, unlike a lot of other online writers (excluding Sequart.com’s own House of Brilliance, mind you!), I happen to know exactly what this bitter relationship is based on (besides the sex; I’m not a machine, dammit). I don’t have any aspirations to be a famous critic or novelist (well, no realistic aspirations…), but I am content in writing about subjects that I am passionate about, just as you all are content (hopefully!) in taking a few minutes out of your week to read this column in order to further your own enjoyment of the comic book hobby. At the beginning of the column’s life, I knew I would have to actively fight to keep my column not only interesting and funny, but also well-read as well. And believe me, fight I did! For at least the first three months (that’s nine columns!) I scampered around various online message boards frantically promoting the column as if it were pure gold streaming from my fingers onto the keyboard! So, for those of you that I managed to sucker into drinking this swill: THANK YOU. It’s not so much an ego-boosting thing as it is a hero-worship thing (because I demand that you love me as a father!), but it is important for me to know that people are reading what I have to say, even if they disagree.
Yo can see the evidence of Tact is for the Weak’s popularity for yourself! Looking at Sequart.com’s site traffic statistics, the total number of site views unexplainedly jumped from 84,823 hits in December of 2005 to 116,614 hits in January of 2006, and then again to 168,521 hits in March of 2006 (likewise, the total number of page views jumped from 177,015 views in December to 242,424 views in January and again to 309,259 views in March). Is it any coincidence that Tact is for the Weak premiered in January, 2006, and then ran the incredibly-popular (if I may say so myself!) three-part “Tactless V. America” column series in March?
“Wait, there’s no way that the statistics match up with your column,” you may say, “it’s just a coincidence, right?” Well, sure, if you want to go ahead and take the wind out of my sails like that, then yes, it’s not really my doing alone that bolstered Sequart.com’s numbers, but that’s not even my main point of pride. More than anything else, I want to provoke discussion, and, while I’m not trying to over-toot my own horn here, with a current total of 163 comments made on this column (that’s over a hundred comments more than the next-highest total, which is the 56 comments belonging to Lisa Lopacinski’s Counter Intelligence), it appears that at least people are talking about Tact is for the Weak!
So, back to my initial focus: why do I do what I do? It’s not for recognition or an ego-trip; it’s not to change the world (well, not anymore…); it’s simply to share my passion for comic books through humor. In my very first column, I shared with you all my first experience buying a comic book; now, I think, is good time to tell you all about my very first comic ever. When I was in kindergarten, I fell easy prey to some of the more aggressive grade-schoolers on my school bus. Hearing of my troubles, my mother decided to introduce comic books to me in order to motivate me to avoid the conflict and bullying on the bus. After running to a local used book sale and buying back issues in bulk, she offered to give me a comic book each day (or was it week?), provided that I successfully avoided black eyes and bruised shoulders. While it took some time to get used to the idea (come on, I was f**king five, for Chris’sake!), my efforts began paying off, and I finally graduated from Superman cartoons and coloring books to actual comic books. And, naturally, my very first comic book ever was a Green Lantern title.
…to be specific, Green Lantern Corps #211. The day I received that first golden comic, I ran to the nearest sitting apparatus and flipped open the front page. I had no idea what a “Green Lantern” was, what the rings did, or who any of the characters were, but it was apparent from the get-go that the people (er, creatures) in green uniforms were definitely the good guys. I read on in awe as I witnessed people other than Superman flying around as if by magic, but there was more! Suddenly, these people (er, creatures) could make things out of green energy! Crazy things, like air pumps, handcuffs, and boxing gloves! It was fantastic! Forget super-strength and heat-vision; here were some people (er, creatures) that could create sh** like fire-breathing dragons out of thin air! Sure, I grew up on the old Fleischer Superman cartoons, but in that heartbeat, a new superhero had taken the number one spot in my little five-year-old mind.
Now, granted, as a five-year-old, I didn’t understand everything in the book. For instance, the plot revolved around Guy Gardner using his ring to intoxicate the other Lanterns for New Year’s Eve, and in order to combat the latest menace (giant flying pink elephants; man, I love science fiction!), the entire crew needed to sober up fast. So, once Hal Jordan knew what had been done, he had the rings reverse the effects, proclaming “instant prohibition!” as the crew powered up and their uniforms appeared. Now, I didn’t know much about Green Lanterns, or alcohol, or even pink elephants, so for about 2 years (at which point I made my first comic book purchase, the infamous Green Lantern #50, as retold in my very first column), I could only assume that, much like Clark Kent ran into telephone booths to change into Superman, and Bruce Wayne (via Adam West) had to slide down the Bat-poles to don the cape and cowl of Batman, Hal Jordan and the gang had to raise their hands and proclaim “instant prohibition!” in order to transform into Green Lanterns.
Seriously. I thought they were code words or something. What do you expect; I was five! Hell, “Shazam!” does the same trick!
In any case, I was hooked. Green Lantern #50 may have been the nail in the coffin that condemned my pockets to ever bleed my cash into the local comic shop, but it was that first Green Lantern Corps #211 handed to me by my mother that first sparked the comic book fire that we all have burning within us. Face it; whether you’re an off-hand hobbyist or a die-hard fanboy (er, fanperson), there’s something that keeps drawing us all back to the comic shop shelves. For me, it isn’t just the idealism represented by the heroes, or the escape from reality provided by the fantastic adventures; it’s the stories that make me feel all warm and funny inside (well, that and tequila, but only with the worm). I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: comic books offer stories that aren’t just well-written and adorned with often-gorgeous artwork; they feature characters with richer histories and legacies than almost any other fictional characters. People may be able to identify with Jason Bourne or Jack Ryan, and they may find themselves enjoying the adventures of Harry Potter or James Bond, but if virtually anyone hears “Look, up in the sky!”, they’ll know exactly who you’re talking about. Even the recent slew of popular comic book-based movies is nothing more than the latest incarnation of a medium that, young or old, everyone recognizes. Riding the wavecrests of universal recognition is a safe bet, as Hollywood is learning, but it’s a lesson that we, the fans, have known for a long time. It is up to us to spread that lesson to others; nowadays, mothers reward their kids with TV time, video games, and iPods. Only the true creative merits of comic books, the storytelling and artwork, the legacies, can withstand the test of time and the passing of fashions and fads.
Well, enough rhapsodizing nostalgia for today; I’m getting all misty! Before I go, however, it’s time to hand out this week’s Tactless Book of the Week Award!
It’s sort of sad to do this, seeing as how I’ve spent the last portion of the column extolling Green Lanterns, but I’m afraid this has to be done: this week’s award goes to DC Comics’s Green Lantern #12. Written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Ivan Reis, Green Lantern has seen its share of problems in its relatively short past: late-shipping issues, inconsistent artists (let’s face it: Simone Bianchi is a good cover artist, but a full-time penciller he is not), an overabundance of variant covers. However, DC has dropped the ball once again when it comes to accurately solociting its titles. For the book in question, DC teased: “Cyborg Superman returns as “Revenge of the Green Lanterns” continues! Blackest night falls when Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner find themselves face to face with a group of Green Lantern P.O.W.s deep in the heart of Sector 3601. Meanwhile, learn about the case that has taken over John Stewart’s life!”
However, Guy Gardner was but an afterthought of the issue, and John Stewart, who has been strangely absent from the title, was not seen, heard, or even mentioned. Oyyyy. Maybe next time, DC! Seriously, though; common sense dictates that it is imperative to provide accurate information to retailers regarding one’s products, but DC does not seem to have a firm grasp on that concept yet. If I had any sense, I would just give up on all online solits in the first place, and simply wait and be surprised each month at the comic store.
…yeah, right. Who am I kidding? I’m an obsessive-compulsive S.O.B. that can’t resist solits, preview art, or spoilers. Man, for a Green Lantern fan (A.K.A. “Fantern”), I sure am pretty damn low in the willpower department.
Well, that’s all the time we have this week, kiddies. Thank you all for indulging me with this short trip down memory lane; I promise I’ll have some crazy theory next week to piss everyone off! And, once again, be sure to send in your submissions to the Tact is for the Weak title graphic contest! See column #19 for all the details (it’s at the bottom of the column). The deadline is August 2nd…August 2nd…AUGUST 2ND!!!! Peace out.