What is a reasonable amount of time to give a formerly-great (or at least good enough for you) book a chance to get back on track?
In my previous post on Booster Gold, one of the readers indicated that he had almost given up on the title before this month’s issue won him back over to the cause. As a huge fan of the first year of this book, as well as of Dan Jurgens and of the character, I wondered to myself how long it would take for me to consider dropping Booster Gold if it just wasn’t doing it for me—and found that I don’t have a solid answer.
I do know the answer for books that I like, but don’t love—six months, barring extenuating circumstances. By extenuating, I mean:
- A writer whose work I’ve never really liked UNTIL this book has it on track for a few issues and then it starts to go in the toilet. When this happens, all bets are off and I may leave at any time (example: Judd Winick on Green Arrow & Black Canary).
- Editorial or corporate changes that make me decide I no longer want to give them my money (example: the way Chuck Dixon was treated on Robin; after his final issue, I dropped that book like a gun at a cop convention).
- A major shift in the creative direction or concept of the book, including but not limited to massive retcons (example: Spider-Man in One More Day) or replacing the central character (I was one of those who dropped Green Lantern back when Kyle took over, yes…although all is forgiven now, as he’s a really great character).
- The presence of creators who I really like or respect, and who I honestly thing can turn the boat around.
I’m sure there are more and better reasons, and I’ll come back to these bullet points if I remember them before I’m done here. At any rate, your average book has six months—NOT, I should say, six issues, even if the book is nominally a monthly—to win me back into the fold before I give up on it and drop it from my list. This is a rule that I put into place during Strangers in Paradise, which I’ve been on record as saying is the single greatest accomplishment in American comics. The book waned for a few issues in the middle, and I was dead broke. In the back of my mind, I wanted nothing more than to have an excuse to save myself three bucks a month (yes, even back then, if I’m remembering right), but I had loved the characters, the concept and Terry Moore’s near-flawless execution for so long that I had to put failsafes in place. I decided on six months (and of course Moore won me back over, because Strangers in Paradise is amazing), and it seemed like a good guideline to hold onto. Some books, like the Jeph Loeb-era Superman titles or Frank Miller’s All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder, never recapture what it is that I liked or expected from the title. As often as not, though, the stable of talented creators that work in comics keep me interested.
Before the floor is opened up to responses, I want to ask (ha ha) that the art comix crowd, who usually respond to things like this with their opinion that periodical comics are doomed and that we’re all stupid/immature/whatever we are for reading superhero books, please refrain. Those comments are not relevant to the question at hand, which is aimed at those who read and enjoy the floppies. I’m a pretentious bastich myself, so there’s little doubt in my mind that I’ll offend the popcorn comics crowd, too, in time. Right now, though, I’m trying to talk to those folks. Yes, I know—most of the monthlies are about steroid cases who dress in tights and punch stuff. But the reality is, there are some very compelling narratives being told in those comics if you’ve got a receptive frame of mind.
That said, though: How long does it take you to decide a book you once liked, is no longer something you need to be buying every month/whenever it comes out? Does the economy play into your thought process at the moment? Are you more or less likely to drop something that’s in sales/cancellation trouble?