Y’know, when you get away from the comics industry on the Internet, the world becomes a much quieter place.

I was peeking at NEWSarama (after checking out Silver Bullet Comic Books first, of course) this morning after being on the road for three days, way away from computers and the Internet, and the first item of news that jumped out at me, from a clustered selection of four items of news jumping out at me, was this article about the cover of Justice League of America #7. Now, I’m going to buy this issue no matter what because I love the Justice League of America. I’ve loved the characters and concepts of the JLA since I was ten years old. But I decided to take a look anyway, and after I looked at the cover, which was the meat of the article, here’s a sneak peek at a JLA cover, I thought, “Okay, this is cool.” But ultimately it’s meaningless to me. It’s just an article about a cover. But the thing is, what gets me, is that, for some reason, it’s treated like NEWS.

I have to ask myself sometimes, what is really NEWS in comics? Let’s take a look at the NEWSarama home page, specifically the list of items under the MORE NEWS heading. There’s “Immortal Iron Fist #3 Sells Out At Diamond,” “Marvel’s The Initiative Has Begun,” “Gene Ha to Draw JLA #11,” “Preview: Amazing Spider-Man #539,” “Action #845 goes back to press,” and on and on. I was surprised not to see “So and So a Title Sells Out at The Publisher!” but maybe we’ll get some of those tomorrow. Oh, wait, if you scroll down some more, there’s one: “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #17 sells out at Diamond.” There we go.

But is it NEWS?

Over the weekend I was on this great stretch of highway between Barstow, California and Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s nothing but desert and a lot of failed attempts at human encroachment with a few specks of small town every thirty to fifty miles or so, but all along the way there are BILLBOARDS. Dozens and dozens of BILLBOARDS. Now, BILLBOARDS aren’t really news, they just let you know what’s coming. They are enthusiastic, larger than life announcements. A lot of the BILLBOARDS along this stretch of Interstate 15 tell you who is performing in a particular casino in Vegas, how far it is to the next Denny’s restaurant, and where you can find lodging for a lot cheaper than the next BILLBOARD ‘telling’ you how cheap their lodging is. It’s not NEWS at all, not in the journalistic sense. It’s just a BILLBOARD doing its job.

That’s the thing I find really amusing about the comics industry these days. A lot of what is treated as NEWS isn’t really NEWS. Getting a peek at the upcoming cover of Justice League of America #7 isn’t NEWS, it’s just a peek, it’s a BILLBOARD, letting you know what’s coming along further down the road. Immortal Iron Fist #3 selling out isn’t really news, it’s akin to HYPE on a BILLBOARD, letting you know that something good is/was happening, but it’s not really newsworthy, not, as noted earlier, in a journalistic sense. I mean, it’s nice that Immortal Iron Fist #3 sold out, I’m happy for Marvel, but what is the big deal? Does it mean it will never be canceled? Does it mean it will never be delayed? Does it mean that the current creative team will stay with it forever? What does it mean?

It’s like seeing the stream of Denny’s BILLBOARDS along the way from Barstow to Baker. The first one is really cool, you know that in 35 minutes you have the opportunity to stop at Denny’s for a bite to eat or a big old glass of iced tea. And the second one, five minutes later, is a nice reminder. But by the time you get to the sixth Denny’s sign informing you that Denny’s is five minutes away, you know you’ve been subjected to overkill (and don’t you feel that comics hype treated as NEWS is overkill, or is it just me?). It’s the same way with these comic cover BILLBOARD announcements and comics selling out BILLBOARD announcements. They’re nice BILLBOARDS, but they’re not really NEWS, and I think what is really NEWS in comics has lost its way on comics Internet NEWS ‘stations.’

After this rather long, exhaustive and rambling off-my-chest, I’ve-been-out-in-the-desert-too-long diatribe I’m still left to ponder, what is really NEWS in comics? And if the way has been truly lost, has the time come to separate the real NEWS from the flashy BILLBOARDS?

About The Author

Jim Kingman

Jim Kingman is a writer for Comics Bulletin