Thursday, January 28, 2010

Blackout Reading

Eiffel Tower lightningAs mentioned in this week's (epic and brilliant) Waiting for Wednesday, Exfanding HQ went dark for a while on Monday and Tuesday. A huge storm brought with it huge winds and lots of water, and an electrical box on my, apparently.

And it took the electric company just under 24 hours to repair.

So there was plenty of time to sit around and look at the wall. No job searching, no email, no blogging, no Newarama-ing. Because I had forgotten to charge my iPhone the previous night, I was left pretty much cut off from the world.

Sure, I had a battery-operated radio, but I'm talking about being cut off from the World of Geek. 1010 WINS is a very good local station, but they don't give much help in the way of comic book news.

Nor do they mention things like what Neil Gaiman did over the weekend, or if those friendly folks on Lost ever managed to get off the island, or why the Apple Tablet might change the face of everything forever.

There was plenty of talk about downed trees and power lines and it was really rammed home that the Jets won't be going to the Super Bowl in two weeks. There was a smattering of political stuff--mostly about how the Dems hate the 'publicans, and vice versa.

But nothing--not a single thing--about Marvel's Siege mini-series, or DC's Blackest Night.

And so I came to a couple of conclusions.

Firstly, the real world is no fun. Secondly, I need to grow up. And thirdly, I thought about how I just can't imagine comics fandom without the aide (or hindrance!) of the Internet.

I started reading comics in 2003, at a time when the Internet And it was being used by creators and publishers and fans to talk about books and series and things to hate.

When I first started reading comics, I did feel like it was an insular little bubble, limited to those in the comics shops come Wednesday afternoon. Or, in my case, Thursday night, since I at first tried to avoid the whole "comic book crowd" that flooded into the local shop on Wednesday.

I know, I know. So judgemental.

But then I did some Googling, and I found a metric ton of Web sites devoted strictly to comics. And then I found official sites of writers and artists and publishers. Flash forward a few years, and there are now up-to-the-second Twitter pages that tell us what Geoff Johns had for dinner last night.

The sheer amount of stuff available online today is far, far greater than it was just under seven years ago. And the stuff that was available just under seven years ago was wholly un-thought of 14 years ago.

And it was pure science fiction 24 years ago.

For a fan in the 1980s to be able to speak directly with John Byrne, at any given point during the day, was so far out of the realm of the real that it was laughable. Today, on his forum, Byrne regularly engages his fans and even starts discussions on his own. Same goes for Peter David, who was one of the very first authors online.

While Byrne's forum is somewhat limited to fans of the artist (which is understandable!), David's has comments from those who regularly disagree with him. And, being Peter David, he usually adresses such discussions.

Yep, today you can even go online and argue with the writer of your favorite comic book. Again, the stuff of fantasy in the days of fanzines.

Brian Bendis' Jinxworld forums are some of the most popular comics spots online, featuring discussion boards for Bendis and a stable of other high profile talent. There are consistently hundreds of people on the site at any given time, and the same goes for the ComicBloc forums, which house Geoff Johns and others.

So, as I sat there in the dark, these are the things I thought of.

And when my attention span did that wonderful thing where it disappears and my mind becomes the anatomical equivalent of a hamster who has fallen off his wheel, I searched up and down for a mini book light, so I could read some comics.

And read some comics, I did.

In one sitting, I started and finished the following trades: Northlanders, volume one, by Brian Wood, Ultimate Spider-Man: Ultimatum, by Brian Bendis, Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk, by Damon Lindeloff, and Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, by Neil Gaiman. I also started the latest novel by Charlie Huston, entitled Sleepless.

Early on Monday morning, as I usually do, I searched online for jobs. I found two that I wanted to apply for, and as I was busily tweaking my cover letter for each position, BOOP. Everything went dead.

Knowing that there wasn't anything more I could do, I actually managed to sit down and relax for a minute. I wasn't worried about potentially missing that Perfect Job that would only be posted for a limited while on some obscure site.

I didn't have my iPhone booping and beeping all day long with calls and texts and emails. I just had an intimidating stack of trades and hard covers in front of me, and nothing but time to read them. And that was fantastic.

And then the basement flooded and all things fantastic turned into Waterworld.

But it was fun while it lasted.

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