Why don't YOU read comic books?

The comic book industry is currently experiencing a period in which sales are slowly declining, and it got me wondering as to what is lacking in the medium to attract more readers. So I thought I’d put the question to my favorite community and ask “Why don’t YOU read comic books?”

If you care to respond, the two things I respectfully ask you to observe are:
[li]Specify whether you’ve never been a comic reader / used to be a comic reader[/li][li]Limit your responses to your own reasons (I’d like to avoid speculations about what other people like or dislike.)[/li][/ol]

Thanks for contributing!

Personally, I am on an very tight budget and have been for years. Individual issues of comic books have not given me enough entertainment return on investment since about 1986. I do not feel I am in any way responsible for the current decline in sales, as I stopped buying before the collectible explosion of (when was it?) the 90s.

I will pick up a graphic novel or a collection if I find it at the used book store, or on the rare occasion when I have some free time I will happily read through a shelf at Borders.

Comic books are boring.

I didn’t grow up with comics - they weren’t really available here when I was a kid - so I never grew comfortable with the format. I don’t know what it is: the dramatic dialog, the exaggerated drawings, or what; just about the only comic I’ve ever enjoyed was the Order of the Stick web comic, which is mostly dialog-based, with drawings that leave almost everything to the imagination.

It’s too bad, because I like the *idea *of comic books, and I like the comic book style. I even like comic book writers when they’re not writing comics: I’ve read and loved almost every non-graphic novel and short story Neil Gaiman ever wrote, but no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get into his comics, despite the fact that I know they’re some of the best ever made.

You can’t read a comic book. Emphasis on a comic book. In order to have any idea at all about what’s going on, you have to find six different series, four special titles, and a website, then go back online to find out who all the obscure characters and references are. Even if you like a character, it’s hard to figure out whether a title is the rebooted version or the classic version (rebooted 22 times) or the movie version or the kid-friendly version or the hundred year in the future version or the parallel earth version.

In short, they made comic books inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t want to make it a full-time job. And they started doing this a quarter-century ago, when Marvel and DC stumbled across the success of doing year-long special series that intersected with every title. (Secret Wars and Crisis.) That was because circulation was dropping horribly even then. Ever since it’s been nothing but special titles and multiple covers and a thousand gimmicks to get dedicated fans to buy more copies of more titles, while cutting out casual fans who might grow into regular readers. Collections of issues across titles help a bit, but all you have to do is read reviews on Amazon to realize that those are often impenetrable inside stuff to anybody less than devoted core fans. And you make your worlds darker and add in more torture to get the fanboys, which makes comics impossible for kids who are you future.

That’s DC and Marvel, and that doesn’t carry over too much into the independents. But those are also almost impossible to get into unless it’s your world. It’s much like the music business. Independents don’t try for mass market appeal and make claims about how wonderful their stuff is compared to the big sell-outs. But their audiences are too small and specialized to make a dent in the rest of the world, except occasionally by accident. Some stuff may be good but without consistency and quality the public doesn’t wander in except by accident. It’s the exact reason why McDonald’s took over from local diners.

The comics business made a conscious decision to commit slow suicide decades ago. I’m surprised it’s still as big as it is, though movies probably explain that. Comics sell a fraction of what they did in the heyday of Marvel and that was a fraction of what they sold at their peak in the 40s. The world’s strangest business plan.

I’ve never been a comic book reader, primarily because I’m a verbal person and don’t learn or absorb well through images. In reading something like the Sunday funny pages, I go straight for the dialogue balloons, and skip over any panels without one. Then I end up having to go back and search the images for the joke or plotline. When I have taken a look at a comic book, I generally find it hard to follow, precisely because the story isn’t spelled out in the dialogue.

I wouldn’t provide this as advice for the industry, however. I think the comic book’s main audience is people who would rather absorb a story visually, and taking away that aspect would only erode the audience further.

used to be a comic reader

Mainly it got to be too expensive. Both the cover price of individual issues, but also the number of crossovers and “events” that require buying pretty much the entire company’s output (or a least a very huge percentage of it) just to follow a favorite team or character… It just got to be too much in this economy.

Also it didn’t help that the art tends to be dark and muddy these days, and the stories often tend to range from rehashes of rehashes of rehashes to cheap stunts just looking to grab attention. “Captain Foozle is dead, no wait, he’s alive again, no wait he’s an imposter and btw now he’s gay! no wait, he’s not gay, he’s a skrull, no no no the skrull wasn’t gay, what do you mean the skrull wasn’t gay, oh it was a girl skrull okay, HEY CAPTAIN FOOZLE IS A GIRL NOW? Lets restart the series with a new issue #1!!!” At least the holographic lenticular foil covers printed in real elf blood fad seemed to have died with the 90’s, but sheesh.

Can you tell me more?

…cuz, I grew up and became an adult with better things to read, and better things to do .

Comics are great for young children.

Sorry, a joke.

This. I’d like to get into comics more deeply, but most of them really aren’t accessible to me. I don’t want to buy something with a different cover, only to find that it’s the same one I’ve already got.

I never buy the individual issues, I buy the collected volumes, and I enjoy a few series very much indeed. But for the most part, I’m not willing to invest the time and effort to follow most of the stories…and I’m not interested in most of the stories. I like the artwork, in many cases, but the story is the main attraction for me, and in many series, the story seems to be an afterthought.

I’m in a position to read at least half a dozen series, assuming that a new volume was put out every month or so. However, there just aren’t that many series that I find interesting. I love the Fables series (and I need to get down to the comic book shop and pick up the new ones) and the OOTS. I loved Sandman, and Preacher was OK, but too violent for violence’s sake for my taste. I’d like to see another Night Owls book come out.

#1. I used to be an avoid comic book reader.
#2. I quit reading them for a variety of reasons.

A: During the 1990s I bought quite a bit of comics but got tired of the multiple covers designed to make them collectible. I was a huge fan of Spider-Man but the Clone Saga really soured me to the whole franchise.

B: When I came back to comics a few years later I was too impatient with the format. I hated having to wait weeks between installments on something that took me about 10 minutes (at most) to read.

C: Crossover issues. When I was still buying Nightwing comics I’d get pissed off when the story lines were interrupted by what was happening in a Batman title. Worst was when I had to buy a Batman or Birds of Prey comic in order to follow a plot started in Nightwing.

So that’s why I stopped buying comics. I will on very rare occasion read graphic novels (boy that sounds pretentious) even if they’re just compilations of complete story lines compiled into one book.

I would agree with you if comic books were actually made for young children these days. One of the best comics in recent years of children was Gotham Adventures (I think that’s what it was called) which was based off of the Batman animated cartoon from around 1993. Each issue had one or two completely self-contained stories that were appropriate for children without being dumb. Most comic books are far too violent sexually provocative for children, or, as Expano has already mentioned, other obstacles have been placed on readership that make it difficult to children to follow the stories. When I worked at a comic book store it was not children who were buying them it was young males in their teens through their twenties for the most part.

I missed the edit for post #12. I used to be an avid comic book reader. Not an avoid reader…

  1. I read them when I was a child;
  2. I grew up and moved on to more sophisticated media. I gave adult ‘graphic novels’ a chance, but other than Maus, I found them sophomoric.

I have always been a very casual reader (watcher?) of comics & graphic novels.

I don’t read many straight up comics because I am very particular about what types of artwork I enjoy. It doesn’t matter if a storyline is interesting or has been going on for issue upon issue; if they switch to an artist I don’t like - that one’s done for me.

Even without that quibble, I have the ‘casual fan’ block for lots of comics. I don’t know where to start, and the in-jokes don’t make sense, and the storylines go all over the place through seven different series.

Not much fun.

Graphic novels are awesome however - Persepolis, Pride of Baghdad, Maus, Rapunzel’s Revenge, some of the better graphic novel adaptations of TV or book series are very good.

Some American (and Japanese in translation) manga are nice, but they’re a little odd to get used to - the ‘narrative conventions’ are not the same as in graphic novels or comics.

One memorable graphic novel I did NOT read was the Twilight adaptation, although I had the opposite reason from usual - the art was beautiful, but I hate Twilight with a burning passion. It was sad, and ironic.

Used to be an avid collector. Now, I read graphic novels of stuff that sounds interesting, or I’m re-reading old books I’ve collected.

  1. Cost. Cover prices are high, and crossovers make it worse.
  2. I’m kinda disenchanted by the writing style. Too much exposition or sloppy and boring dialogue. When I was a kid, I didn’t notice it as much, but as an adult, even the stuff I loved is very hokey.

I do read comic books, but only Japanese ones. American comics rarely appeal to me aesthetically.

I’ve read some of Gaiman’s Sandman, which I enjoyed but I’m not willing to try others because after (the admittedly limited) exposure I’ve had of them (especially anime) I find it misogynistic (mostly because of the freakishly large breasts and limited clothing of all the female characters).

I’m another that would just repeat with Exapno Mapcase said. American comic books are a mess to follow.

I grew up in Europe, and I still read European comic books. The difference?
The European comic book is what you guys call a graphic novel. One hard-bound (cardboard) volume with a complete story, a beginning and an end. Some ambitious authors might continue the story over the course of three or four volumes. A guy doing a regular comic book series wil come out with one new volume every year or so.

Famous examples: Tintin, Asterix.

I hate to be one of those “other countries do it better” snobs, but the European comic book approach is much much better than the American approach.

I’m really into more non-fiction. Always have been.