Welcome to SBC’s The Panel, a chance for you to put your burning questions – comics-related or otherwise – to a group of comics professionals.

The Panel lives or dies by your contributions; please email them to panel@silverbulletcomicbooks.com and we’ll add them to the list…

This week’s question comes from Joseph P. Gauthier and is as follows:-

“Should Comics Fans Go On A Diet?”

I’ll let Joseph elaborate on the theme:

Not literally, let me explain…

In my message board response to the question concerning Limited Series vs. Ongoing Series, I wrote how there are no “discerning tastes” among the majority of comic consumers. That we basically “eat” whatever the publishers give us. In fact, we mostly over eat when we’re not even hungry. Buying comics has become more habit than love. We’re junkies searching for a virgin high we won’t find and our pusher’s product is deteriorating because junkies are a “guaranteed sale”.

But, what if we “flip the script” as it were? What if the majority got picky, went on a “diet”, and “ate” only the good, healthy stuff? How would that change the industry? How would publishers respond? Better yet, would they (publishers) be forced to listen to our wants and needs instead of trying to impress retailers? Let’s face it, self-publishers are being taught nowadays that the consumers don’t matter, to target the retailers if you want to be successful. It’s taken for granted that consumers will buy pretty much anything that the retailers put into their hands. How many times have we heard of books that have risen or fallen based on retailer, not fan, effort and response?

So, should we all go “healthy” and get “lean”?

Fiona Avery:

Well, first off I hate the concept of diets because a diet is a punishment. It automatically makes you want whatever you tell yourself you can’t have. This is of course why people get fanatic about diets, because the only way to convince yourself that all meat and cheese is really a good thing is to go on a crusade against potatoes. But I digress, Atkins. Actually, it’s not much of a digression. It holds true for anything you decide you’re not going to “partake of” anymore. Being selective is good. Punishing yourself and telling yourself you buy too much crap is bad. I love anime, for example, and I watch your high brow artsy stuff like Ghost in the Shell or Haibane Renmei and I watch your totally low brow slapstick stuff like Jubei Chan or weird hybrid stuff like Utena. I get stuff through Netflix and if I like it, I go out and buy it. It’s not much different in comics. There are plenty of retailers out there that carry back issues of anything you’d like. And most larger companies are publishing graphic novels. So if you really love it enough to collect the whole thing, just pick it up in that format. It’s really too bad there aren’t comic book libraries, like for books or rental places for movies. That’d probably help. But your average comic book store lets you peruse a first issue and get a feel for the series without a lot of hassle. So I guess in the end, I’m all for being selective, but not for a restrictive “diet” as it were.

Fiona Avery plays in the Marvel Universe, with Wildstorm at DC, and is the creator of No Honor.

Donna Barr:

“Sometimes we need stories more than food.”

If an animal is starving, it will eat dung (well, dogs don’t care, and scarab beetles prefer it).

If there is plenty of food, the animal can pick and choose according to its needs and wants and best interest.

Our zoo is starving!!!!

What is the matter with us, only supplying one or two types of fodder, and nasty mouldy oldies at that? Of course they choke this stuff down — where else are they going to find the food only we can provide? They’re not going to stop eating, but if we provide better and variable food, they may be able to be more choosy.

There should be a Society For The Prevention of Reader Abuse.

Donna Barr has books and original art at www.stinz.com, webcomics at www.moderntales.com, www.girlamatic.com, and has POD at www.booksurge.com Nothing she won’t try, at least once.

Jesse Leon McCann:

This is just covering ground we discussed a few weeks ago. Readers can vote with their wallets, and they can express their views to publishers and retailers whenever they get a chance. Those are the only ways to affect change in the business of producing and selling comics, other than producing and selling comics themselves.

Jesse Leon McCann is a New York Times Best-selling Author. He’s currently editing the fourth Simpsons TV Episode Guide for Bongo Comics/Harper Perennial, and writing stories for DC Comics’ Looney Tunes and Cartoon Cartoons.

Vito Delsante:

Here’s the problem with diets. Today, eggs are good for you. Milk is bad. Too much salt is bad. Don’t drink more than two glasses of beer, drink as much wine as you want, drink 8 glasses of water.

Tomorrow…eggs are terrible. Drink two glasses of milk. A little salt is good for you. Stop drinking all together. Drink 8 glasses of water.

If my point hasn’t been made by now, it’s this; who determines what is good for you? You always hear about the man who chain smoked every day and lived to be 90, but then someone else died at 47 due to secondhand smoke.

I’m going a little far with the diet analogy, but I think my logic is working. I like a few critical favorites…not many, but few. I will be the first to admit that when I buy comics, I buy, for the most part, mainstream titles. I think that in the context of comic purchasing, going on a diet is a great idea, but few will adhere to it…hell, even I wont! Eightball only comes out but so often!

Should fans go on a diet? Sure they should, but people rarely do what’s good for them, and further, you can’t convince me that I am doing something wrong because I bought Identity Crisis over Meatcake.

Diets only last a week after the New Year.

Vito Delsante’s creator owned mini-series, “The Mercury Chronicles”, with artist Jim Muniz, is now in development with Image Comics and will hit stands late this year. “Batman Adventures Vol 2: Shadows and Masks” (DC Comics) is out now! He will next be seen in Reflux Comics #3 (August) and in X-Men Unlimited #5 (October).

Brandon Thomas:

I actually went on a “comic diet” ’bout a year ago, because I honestly sat down and looked at the stuff I was coming home with, and there was some incredibly wack material getting my money. I know this is slightly neurotic, but when I come home from the shop every Wednesday, I got this ritual, because you know, you can’t just sit down and start reading shit, right? You gotta clear the bag first, see what you came home with, and personally, I always save the hottest stuff for the bottom of the stack, your Ultimate books, your Y: The Last Man, your Bendis, that sort of thing. So, when my budget was just getting completely outta control, I just spent the next few months making sure I was only coming home with books I’d normally save for last. Don’t know why I wasn’t doing that from the beginning, but you know, the “diet” continues to this day, and I haven’t gained any of the weight back.

Brandon Thomas is one of the writers of Spider-Man Unlimited #3, scripter of Youngblood, creator of Cross and long-time Ambidextrous columnist.

Roberta Gregory:

Well, I think a lot of the problem is a sedentary lifestyle. But if fans suddenly became active and athletic, they would read less comics, and then were would we creators be? I just read an article in the paper that said Americans get a third of their calories from junk food, so it is probably not much different in the UK. Personally, I have discovered as I grow older (I am over 50 now!) I need to eat much less food than I thought I do, and I am very active, trying to walk 3 miles a day and with a physical labor ‘day job.’ I will cook my usual eggs-and-veggies brunch dish and find I only need to eat half of what, a few years ago, I thought was a normal serving– I can save the rest and nuke it later for dinner. Perhaps, then, it is the fact that fans are aging and have a perception of how much food they need from several years earlier. AND, the plus side is, if you are spending only half the money on food now, you can buy MORE comics and graphic novels. It is a win-win situation!

Roberta Gregory is the creator of “Bitchy Bitch”, who not only stars in Roberta’s Naughty Bits comic book (from Fantagraphics), but also appears on television worldwide in animated adventures, the latest being the “Life’s a Bitch” series on the Oxygen Network.


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