I’m excited to announce what will hopefully be a recurring column that will feature some of my writing outside the usual confines of Chasing Amazing. Here’s the first installment of “Gimmick or Good?” over at the Comics Should Be Good blog, which is part of the Comic Book Resources family. The post focuses on Todd McFarlane’s scripted/illustrated Spider-Man #1. Here’s my overall thesis for Gimmick or Good:
As I debated the merits of shelling out another $8 for what will end up being my seventh (different) copy of Amazing Spider-Man #700, I came to the realization that through subtle and not-so-subtle means – variant covers, “special events” that incorporate every character imaginable, gimmicky covers, complete relaunches of publisher lines geared towards flooding the market with collectible “first issues,” and highly publicized “deaths” of major characters that are never permanent – the comic book industry has started to swing back in a direction that in many ways mirrors the “speculation boom” that peaked in the early/mid 90s.
This period is often vilified by publishers, readers and comic book shop owners alike for its long-term ramifications on the industry – many publishers closed or filed for bankruptcy; shop owners relying on the next big thing to sell another eight million copies, had to shut their doors en masse when the bubble burst; and readers hoping to strike it rich by selling their Death of Superman issue for thousands of dollars years later were left holding the (poly)bag of a poor return on their investment – but what about the comic books themselves? Were they any good?
What I hope to accomplish with “Gimmick or Good?” is both a trip down memory lane and a critical exploration of the comic books I grew up reading (and in essence, roped me into collecting). I’m also interested in having fun with some of the parallels between this dark chapter in comic book history, and the trends of today. I’m going to give all of these foil embossed, hologrammed, glow-in-the-dark, die-cut, polybagged, “special events,” “Death of X,” “special number one issue: collector’s item” comics a read with fresh eyes. I might find that some of these comics, despite their gimmicks, should (or continue to be) celebrated, while others probably won’t be (financially or intellectually) worth the cost of the paper they were printed on.