Monday, November 16, 2009

Random comic book research questions

Question 1: How much do comic readers miss letters columns? [This fanboy misses those columns a lot. There was always an interesting comment or question from a reader.]

Question 2: Have some of the letterhacks (peeps who wrote to letters columns) migrated to having comic blogs? If so, to what degree has this happened?

Question 3: What became of those letterhacks who did not make the trek to the comics blogosphere? Did they buy fewer comics becuase of this turn of events?

I ask these questions, because I remember that some folks enjoyed the columns more than the comics themselves (at times). The wholesale elimination of these columns always struck me as the equivalent of a blogger who becomes a published author and then decides to shut down his blog. Damn the marketing and fan interaction opportunities.

I also recall that some editors and assistant editors actually gained quite a following because of their witty responses contained within these columns.


  1. Argh!! I miss letter columns, too! Not that I can truly miss them, because I came to comics recently, but I've seen them in old back issues. The ones for JLI were always really amusing.

    The best part about reading (current) comics for little kids like Superfriends is that they still have the letters section. And they reprint drawings that kids send in, etc. It's very cute.

    Why did they get rid of them? Get rid of that dopey editor's section where they talk about what's coming next week...we all know anyway.

  2. That's a good point, Liss, the "what's coming" section is pretty pointless. But I did enjoy the letters columns, and always always read them all. Even the silly ones. Especially the silly ones.

  3. Liss, why indeed. I stopped reading comics for a while and when I came back no letters columns in sight.

    The silly ones were a hoot and the incisive ones were...well...incisive. Maybe the "what's coming" section saves comic companies a lot of ink? Even so, it doesn't make sense from an interaction perspective. It feels like readers are less involved. "Just read it and don't bother us with questions, praise, or gripes..."

  4. Yeah, I don't think they want to hear our complaints. (They certainly don't want to hear mine. My List of Complaints is getting to be like that song from "The Mikado.")

    And what's worse than the "look what's coming next week!" columns are the self-congratulatory columns. Argh! I think last week's was all about Dan DiDio or Geoff Johns winning a Spike TV Award or something. And then they usually go on about "Wow we had a blast at INSERTNAMEHERE-Con and I met up with BIGCOMICSCELEBRITY and had a great time doing INSERT-COOL-ACTIVITY-HERE-THAT-YOU-REGULAR-PEOPLE-AREN'T-AWESOME-ENOUGH-TO-PARTICIPATE-IN." Rargh!!

    I'd rather see drawings from five-year-olds.

  5. Do you mean that “To the lord high executioner” song? I’m not totally up on Gilbert and Sullivan, so I don’t know the song names.

    Lol about the “Here’s what we did last week and congrats to my boss/buddy on that award and guess who I met at the cool event” column bit.

    It’s a bit of a ‘mutual appreciation society’ and reminds me of the JLA/JLE crossover called the Teasedale Imperative...I’m thinking of a scene onboard the Justice League shuttle where Blue Beetle is thanking/praising his co-pilot Mr Miracle for his work in getting the shuttle in great shape and Mr. Miracle is doing the same. Back and Forth for a full minute or so. Then, I think Beetle says something like, “But the work of no great man could be successful without the efforts of other great men - such as yourself.” And it takes J’onn to shut them down.

    Who could be the real life J’onn in these self-congratulatory pages? The printing press?

  6. It's right after the Lord High Executioner song. What's-his-name sings about all the people he wants to excecute and how he's got them "on his list:"

    It just amuses me greatly, as does most British humor.

    Oh, I must read the Teasdale Imperative now. I haven't really read any JLE. J'onn was always pooping on Ted/Scott/Booster's party, much to my amusement. They really were like a bunch of kindergartners sometimes.

    Hmmm...I think it should be the fans, even though we have little influence, who demand an end to the self-congratulating and a revival of a letter column. Maybe I'll just it on as a one-person quest, travel to comic shops across the country, and rip out every Editor's Column page on every comic. Someone's gotta do it.

  7. Looking back, the Teasedale Imperative (4 parts – 2 parts in JLA and 2 parts in JLE, I think)was one of their serious stories (i.t.o. stakes), but Beetle, Booster, Guy, Metamorpho, Elongated Man all get to be themselves and deliver some one-liners/zingers. Most notably: Guy to Batman; Guy to J’onn; J’onn to Batman about the rest of the JLA; Booster, Beetle, and Scott about J’onn; Metamorpho to Batman; Booster to Elongated Man; Animal Man to Batman about a guest star, and a few I might be skipping. I think I’ve paraphrased one of those zingers on this very blog. Unfortunately for them, J’onn, Batman, and Captain Atom are there to keep them in check. If you like a specific trope of horror movies/stories, you’ll like the cross-over just for that.

  8. Which trope of horror movies? I don't really watch horror movies so I wouldn't know. Just curious!

  9. I also don't watch them often anymore, but that's because I feel that too few are innovative and many are just cashing in on remakes of Japanese horror movies that use a colour scheme (gray, black and white) which I find both depressing and disturbing. 'The Ring' (part one) was the last one I found interesting.

    The trope I'm talking about is Zombie movies. You know, in the past I HATED zombie movies, but in the last decade they have made zombie movies more science fictional. Something I've just realized is that the Teasedale Imperative may have been 10 years ahead of its time (in the same way), because the 'zombies' featured are more science fictional than supernatural as well. But there is another Supernatural element to the Teasedale Imperative...