I was listening to the Comic Geek Speak podcast recently and one of the hosts mentioned something about collecting comics in the days before the internet, and how there seemed to be few surprises for comics readers these days. He had a good point. Between solicitations in Previews and information from the various comic book news sites such as Newsarama and Comic Book Resources (my two personal favorite stops for comic news) it is pretty hard to not have key plot points or guest appearances spoiled months ahead of time.
It made me think back to those days gone by, myself. I started reading comic books in the 1970s. I got my comics mostly from two places: the grocery store or 7-11. My mom would go grocery shopping every Friday and, of course, I would tag along. She would give me $1.00 to buy comics which would net me 4 books in those days of a .25 cent cover price. I was getting 12 titles a month, which is a far cry more than I get now.
There was no internet. There was no Previews catalog. There were no comic book-related podcasts or websites. The only indication I had of what might be coming next in a given comic was the "Next Issue" blurb at the end of each issue. That was it. If there was a change in the creative team, you didn’t know it until you opened the next issue. That little blurb was your only hint at what was to come. And, it was great.
There was a sense of anticipation and excitement that I think is missing from today’s comic reading experience. Just like a trailer that shows too much from an upcoming film, I think we (we being the online comic news site reading fans) find out too much, too soon, about upcoming storylines. Part of me loves that, but a growing part of me is starting to strongly dislike that.
Back in the 1980s there was an awesome comics publication called Amazing Heroes. It was published by Fantagraphics Press. It featured interviews and news about comics, creators and the industry. It was fantastic. The intereviews were lengthy and insightful. The news was interesting and relevant. Man, it put Wizard to shame (even though Wizard debuted after AH ended). And, twice a year there were special Amazing Heroes Preview issues that gave some insights into upcoming storylines for all the major comic titles being published at the time.
It was like the perfect meal. Not too little. Not too much. Just enough to keep you informed, but still in the dark enough that there was room for surprises.
Amazing Heroes ceased publication in 1992. And, I still miss it.