Jacob Kurtzberg warned us- he tried to, at least, that this sequential art we loved so much would break out sequential hearts. It's an ugly business that's run by distant, disinformed "people" who couldn't care less about why we buy, as long as we do.
Yet we do, and we do so gladly. I cannot count the times I have sandblasted any ambiguities of my character with the defense of buying comics. Supporting an industry that brings me such great pleasure... on the backs of so many dismayed. The heads buried in the hands, so plentiful and perfunctory in the business. It ain't right, it ain't fucking right, but, "What can we do as a consumer?"
I DON"T HAVE AN ANSWER. NO ONE DOES. MARK WAID IS RIGHT, AS HE USALLY IS
As comics folk, we get ostracized, inflicted, shunned. Even worse, we become a novelty- someone's quirky friend who's "into all of that," as if it's too shameful to name. In a way it is, if you're the ethically combatative type, but rarely have I come across someone whose anti-comics stance is informed enough. /smuggo.
I didn't intend to write much more than an esoteric sentence that I'd delete tomorrow, but I believe in comics. I am a sequential heartist. I want to follow in the footsteps of all these titans, these giants, these geniuses who saw nothing but the need to put down what they could shake from their dreams and visions, and were "lucky" enough to get a paycheck for. But like all invention, they expected to be kept in the loop, and were callously derailed.
I once read or heard or imagined an interview where a creator said that no one gets into comics to make money. They do it because they love it. The funny part is, this person could not be more wrong. These creators, they went into this business because they saw the need to express their talents doing something they loved and to reap a modest reward. Except that the industry, struggling to survive, found the need to take figure and not people into account.
These gibbons, these Gibbons and Moores and Anglos and Kirbys,they came into the business with nothing but love and stuck around as the object of their affections Charles Atlased them into submission. They deserve(d) to get paid for their work, as any of us would. They deserve(d) to be recognized and acknowledged for their efforts, because they're not just names on a page- they are and were people with lives, families and needs. And the singular corporate need to survive overtook the social need to persevere. It was the unforgivable sin, yet it slid. That's what the love of comics does to a person. We, the interested parties, know the stories and tell the tales, swearing it won't happen to us, but then we find ourselves grinding and grinding to make it, to print our work, to get it noticed in the hopes of what? To get Kirbyed? Why would anyone want that?
And at long last, the answer to the question(s) posed.
Because we fucking love it, we love it more than anything, and we couldn't fathom our lives with out it.
Comics will break your heart. There's no way they won't. But the heart is a muscle, a thorough and tough one, one that adapts- it must be broken in order to be rebuilt. Once it is, though, it's damn near impenetrable... unless the circumstances are correct.
Why do we pay to have our hearts break, you still might ask?
Because heartbreak helps. In times of joy, in sadness, in boredom, ad nauseam- heartbreak helps. It's a fucked up industry that's built on twists of knives and lie after lie, suit after suit, but it's ours, groddamnit. It's ours.
No one gets into comics to make money. The ones that do, the misguided tourists/ weekenders rarely reach beyond the entryway. But that's what keeps this industry limping along (let's not kid ourselves) and will likely do so for a while. It keeps on kickin', though, because of us. I believe in comics because I believe in happiness and I believe in following dreams and I believe in expression in any form... and I believe in comics because I fucking believe.
You take the good and the bad, and these creators, they taught us as they did with their work- their hardships don't go unappreciated. As much as we love what they drew and did for us, we have to take them as cautionary tales- it may not be what they intended, but they're far from martyrs. They're saints- they worked miracles and have been publicly canonized. It's not financial restitution, and it's far less than they deserve, but it's a start.
No one gets into comics to make money- they do it to make a living out of what they love. And is that really so wrong?
Why would anyone pay to feel this way? If you read comics, - you already know.
If you don't, it's never too late. Especially if you don't.
PS: Fuck BEFORE WATCHMEN. Great talents being coerced into beating a dead horse. No rancor for them, as they're wonderful talents who take what work they can get (and also JMS,) but C'mon, son.