Sporadic Sequential
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Reading & Reviewing Rigor Mortis

Lately I've been going through one of those cyclical comics malaise things where I can't seem to work up the energy to read many comics, much less review them. I've been trying to figure out why my enthusiasm for comics is waning at the moment, and here are some of the factors I've come up with:

1. A Simple Lack of Time & Energy.
Pretty obvious, but I hadn't realized it until I stopped to think about it. By the time I get home from work; get the kids fed, bathed, and put to bed; clean the kitchen and do whatever other chores need doing, I don't have much time or energy left to read or write about comics. Other than sending the kids to bed dirty and hungry, I'm not sure how to get around this issue. Perhaps I'll have to start reading comics to the kids for their bedtime stories. ("And then Hyakkimaru confronted the scary-looking demon and said, 'I'm not afraid of you and I'll fight you to get my spleen back!!'")

2. Does The Blogosphere Really Need An Infinite Number of Monkeys + 1? Perhaps this speaks to low self-esteem, but there's a part of me that's overwhelmed by the sheer number of comic book blogs out there. Do I really have anything new or unique to contribute to the conversation when everyone else has already reviewed the book I finally got around to reading months after it came out? In the past I tried not to read other reviews of books I was thinking of discussing, but now I read others' reviews and check off all the points I was thinking of making until I reach the point where there's nothing left that I would add. (I was once thinking of writing a review of a particular comic with hyperlinks to all the other reviews that had already made the points I wanted to bring up, but I was too lazy to do all the linking.)

3. I'm Deeply Embedded in the Comfort Zone. I've noticed that lately I've been reluctant to try out new things. I've been sticking mainly with "comfort" books -- the series that I've following for years already (Bleach, Kekkaishi, The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, etc.) or ones in a very similar vein. This is probably a corollary of #1 — since I have little free time, I want to spend it on "safe" series that I expect to entertain me. Which is great in the sense that I'm happy with where my comic-buying dollar is going, but it lessens my inspiration for blogging. How many interesting ways can I come up with to gush about the awesome fight scenes in Bleach or the creepy creature designs in Parasyte?

4. My Critical Faculties Are Failing Me. AKA, "The Positivity Problem." I find myself uncritically enjoying almost everything I'm reading. This probably follows from point #3 above — if I'm only reading things I expect to enjoy and which I've enjoyed in the past, I'm probably going to enjoy them now. But this has also happened to new series that I've read recently. For example, Gun Blaze West is a formulaic shonen series with cliched characters, but I still loved the energy of the series and got completely caught up in each new battle of escalating intensity. So it was a little embarrassing to go back and read the author's notes and find out that creator was much more critical of the book that I was. (I should watch a bad romantic comedy and see if this uncritical enjoyment extends into other media; usually I drive my wife crazy when we watch movies together because I nitpick every little detail or inconsistency.)

5. Mental Block Placed By Charles Xavier Interfering with Writing Abilities. I have actually sat down to write several reviews in the past few months, but for whatever reason, my brain locks up after a couple sentences. I have trouble organizing my thoughts or thinking of the right... whaddya call it... "words." Part of this may just be related to point #1: sleep deprivation may be interfering with the parts of my brain involved in writing in much the same way it's messing with my memory. (I can't count how many times I've been told by people, "Uh, you already mentioned that to me last week" when I think I'm telling them something new.)

I don't really have any grand plans on how to overcome these factors, nor so I have any burning desire to ramp up my reviewing schedule in the near future. But I would like to blog more frequently than I have been, so I may borrow a suggestion that Danielle Leigh threw out and start more of a reading diary — just blog more of my reactions and impressions to the things I read rather than trying to structure them into professional reviews or thoughtful criticism. Perhaps this will relieve some of the subconscious pressure that causes me to freeze up when I sit down to write a review. And I'm also planning on sampling more works outside of my regular reading list. The other day I stopped by the library to pick up an item my wife had on reserve and I swung by the graphic novel sections to grab a couple impulse selections (a couple random volumes of Golgo 13 and Beck, as well as a handful of superhero comics). No guarantees, but I hope to have some new posts up in the coming weeks.

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