More on…stuff

Steven Grant looks at the crazy goings on of the past week, specifically the “Dan DiDio is getting the Willie Randolph treatment!” rumor and how it becomes morphed into fanthink:

Fanthink is an interesting beast. It starts with the premise, which perhaps not coincidentally is what the DC comics universe has been based on for the last 20-some odd years, that reality is whatever you want it to be. Which is perfectly fine for a fictional world controlled from on high where any unpleasant complications can be explained away, rebooted or ignored as desired, as long as you’re aware that anything done will have fans unwilling to accept your explanations, reboots or willful ignorance. In the real world? Mmmmm… doesn’t work so well at all, like when you invade a country while figuring all you’ll have to do in the aftermath is dropping a malleable new government into place and sweeping up the flowers its grateful citizens strew in your armies’ path. Nonetheless, it has become a popular game among Internet comics fans especially to decide on the outcome they’d prefer to see, act as though it’s already reality, and extrapolate their arguments backwards.


Steven nails a very important part of today’s internet culture, and one that’s very difficult to deal with for a site like this. For instance, there are a couple of assumptions Steven makes in his column that I could refine based on well-sourced information that I have heard. But is it worth it? Every time bits of actual inside information are posted on the web, the fans go ape-shit spinning-off all sorts of totally bogus claims and reverberations about that information.

So is it even worth it? Usually not.

Fanthink is bad enough with popular movies and TV shows, But in the comics industry where everyone knows everyone else, it’s downright deadly.

Comments

  1. Steven Grant’s new word “fanthink” is almost as good as Alan Moore’s “idea space”.

  2. Lawson says:

    Wait, is Steven saying that Dan DiDio is Saddam Hussein or George W. Bush?

    The only thing less interesting than hearing us fans complain about comics on the Web is hearing other people complain about us complaining about comics on the Web. This week seems to be offering a bumper crop of complaint complainers — call them industry whiners — who are baffled by the low rumble of grumbling.

  3. Philip Lester says:

    Lawson, you idiot.

    He’s saying that whining fans start having magical thinking like George W. Bush.

  4. Lawson says:

    Philip says: “Lawson, you idiot. He’s saying that whining fans start having magical thinking like George W. Bush.”

    Ah! OK.

    And what magical powers do industry whiners have?

    Because if we fans are being silly by predicting the firing of Dan DiDio every 20 minutes — and we are — the industry whiners who complain about all this dissatisfaction, while DC’s monthly sales slip 20 percent, don’t look particularly brilliant themselves.

  5. Philip Lester says:

    The difference is, industry whiners aren’t trying to enforce a change by whining about it. They’re venting from a position of knowledge. And they know that their complaining isn’t going to change the industry.

    And yes, fans are being very, very silly in predicting that Didio would be fired. It shows how little fans know about how the industry works and how corporations are run.

    DC isn’t completely dependent on the sales of their comics – the merchandising and licensing of rights to other medium makes them far more money than the comics themselves do. Industry “whiners” know this. Fans think they – the vaunted fans – can bring about change when that’s not true. That’s Magical Thinking.

    Because if fans did have that much influence, Joe Quesada would have been fired years ago.

  6. Philip Lester says:

    And I apologise for calling you an idiot.

  7. Lawson says:

    Philip said: “The difference is, industry whiners aren’t trying to enforce a change by whining about it. They’re venting from a position of knowledge. And they know that their complaining isn’t going to change the industry.”

    Hey, I like to think I whine as much as the next fanboy. Or more! But I’ve never kidded myself that I was changing the industry. I was just enjoying the feel of a fine whine. I’d love to see Dan DiDio replaced at DC — I’d love to start buying some DC titles again — but at the end of the day, this is just a hobby, and I do have other things to spend my time and money on.

    Now, the industry whiners — these are either people desperate to keep Dan DiDio and Joe Quesada happy with them (“Replace YOU?! Hell, no, boss, I’d never want to replace you! You’re a genius and we all LOVE you!”) or they’re just washed-up has-beens who wrote CAPTAIN DARK KNIGHT 15 years ago and are looking for a shot to get back into the full-time funnybook business. Talk about folks whose whining has an agenda behind it! I’d trust the customers any day before I’d trust the hired help.

  8. Philip Lester says:

    The customers’ views have no relevance to what happens inside a company like DC or Marvel. Just as fans of TV shows have no great relevance to the networks or they wouldn’t have caused the Writer’s Strike and the threatened Actors’ strike.

    They certainly don’t have any say in whether or not Didio keeps his job. Time Warner does, and they’ve been happy enough with his job performance to renew his contract at the end of this year.

    But your point about industry whiners is rather off: they whine when they’re not at risk of getting blacklisted. If you’re talking about Steven Grant, he’s not afraid of speaking his mind, and he’s not in danger of not being hired right now.

  9. Lawson says:

    Philip said: “The customers’ views have no relevance to what happens inside a company”

    Mmm. Not sure I agree with you on that one.

    No, I don’t think the rich men who run Time Warner are reading Comicon and trying to figure out how Lawson feels about DC Comics this week. (Nor do they take my calls or registered letters, the ungrateful bastards.)

    But customers’ views can have relevance, because in the end, customers vote with their feet. They walk away. And looking at the noticeable sales sag for DC’s monthly comics — across the board — I’d say a lot of us walked away.

    The average monthly sale for a DC Universe title — the superhero stuff, like Superman, Batman and the Flash — is about 33,000 these days. It wasn’t that long ago that a comic selling only 33,000 copies at one of the Big Two publishers was considered a stinker.

    No relevance?

    We have ways and ways of communicating our displeasure.

  10. Dennis says:

    Some creators (and industry professionals) just seem to come off as if they are above the fray and have nothing better to do than condemn the simpleton Internet “fanboys” (who most of the time are just voicing their collective thoughts — okay, okay… complaining). Well, just hang out with some of these same creators and their respective circles and you’ll hear the same rumor mongering, speculation and complaining too. We all do it, but don’t sit there and pretend your shit smells any better than the whining Internet fanboy’s shit. Enough with this “creatorthink” mentality and using such a broad brush stroke to condemn fandom (i.e., the lowly Internet fanboys) as uninformed idiots. It just comes off way too judgmental. Leave the condescending attitude and inflated ego at the door. I’m a little tired of them crapping on my floor.

  11. John Smith says:

    “This week seems to be offering a bumper crop of complaint complainers — call them industry whiners — who are baffled by the low rumble of grumbling.”

    Indeed. It’s always entertaining to watch those-who-would-be-insiders get all lathered up when the proles dare to criticize anything.

  12. Alan Coil says:

    You gotta love it when someone says, “You’re acting like a spoiled brat.”, and the response is, “Nuh-uhhh.”

    Whiny fanboys calling professionals whiners is taking on a Python-esque bizarreness.

  13. I think the point is that fans have a tendency to respond to any piece of information, not by asking “What does this mean?” but by asking “How can I interpret this as proving what I already believed?”

    Of course, this is just cognitive bias, and everyone’s prone to it; but you do get some very blatant examples from comics fans (of all stripes). And it makes for some debates which are simultaneously heated yet extraordinarily boring.

  14. “This week seems to be offering a bumper crop of complaint complainers — call them industry whiners — who are baffled by the low rumble of grumbling.”

    Indeed … maybe it’s time to disable the “comments” feature. But then, they wouldn’t hear any praise, either …

  15. Joe S. Walker says:

    Calling criticism you don’t agree with “whining” is a remarkably ugly habit of mind.

  16. Lawson says:

    Paul O. said: “I think the point is that fans have a tendency to respond to any piece of information, not by asking ‘What does this mean?’ but by asking ‘How can I interpret this as proving what I already believed?'”

    You’re right, of course, but this is hardly unique to comic books.

    Politics, sports, business, religion, you name it — on every subject except possibly the weather, people tend to interpret new information so that it matches their personal biases.

    No, it ain’t pretty.

    But I have to laugh when a fat 48-year-old guy in a Batman T-shirt and cargo shorts, who drew THE INCREDIBLE HULK or AQUAMAN or whatever 15 years ago, and now maybe writes a “column” on funnybooks for the Interwub with an audience of 243, complains about “the fans.”

    Oh, those pesky fans with their opinions! Who asked them! They don’t have the sources I do! Why, just last year, I had lunch with the guy who colors one of the X-MEN books!

    Industry whiners: The fans paid for your Batman T-shirt. You don’t have to agree with them — hell, you don’t have to read their comments at all, if you don’t want — but they’re entitled to their opinions on funnybooks as much as you are.

Trackbacks

  1. […] The Question of Comic Journalism: Heidi responds to a column about the DiDio rumors by posting the equivalent of “I know something you don’t, but it’s not worth sharing with YOU”: there are a couple of assumptions Steven makes in his column that I could refine based on well-sourced information that I have heard. But is it worth it? Every time bits of actual inside information are posted on the web, the fans go ape-shit spinning-off all sorts of totally bogus claims and reverberations about that information. So is it even worth it? Usually not. […]

  2. […] The Question of Comic Journalism: Heidi responds to a column about the DiDio rumors by posting the equivalent of “I know something you don’t, but it’s not worth sharing with YOU”: there are a couple of assumptions Steven makes in his column that I could refine based on well-sourced information that I have heard. But is it worth it? Every time bits of actual inside information are posted on the web, the fans go ape-shit spinning-off all sorts of totally bogus claims and reverberations about that information. So is it even worth it? Usually not. […]

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