New Year's Resolutions For A Pop Culture Mutant
- by ReuBen DeBord, 1 January 2016
It happened again. Every year around this time, the calendar jumps back to the beginning, and people start pretending like they are going to get their lives together starting now. And if I contain my cynicism to a small tiny cage where it will never see the light of day, I can appreciate the idea of people deciding to take action and make changes in their lives (and now the cynicism has broken out and I know that, a week later, those resolutions are as forgotten as that fruit cake in the back of the fridge your Aunt Dora gave you).
But what if you could keep those resolutions you made? What if you were reading some pointers from a guy who has made resolutions in the past and kept them?! Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I’ve kept over 1 New Year’s Resolution! And just as you were wondering what does any of this have to do with Pop Culture, (you know, the thing this website is predominantly about) I am going to talk to you about 3 of my resolutions for the year 2016, specifically relating to pop culture, and with each resolution, I want to offer you beautiful muties some tips on keeping your own resolutions! So even if you’re reading this on January 11th, maybe this article can give you some pointers on how to better keep some of your (pop culture-related) resolutions!
My first resolution is to write and draw more. You may not know this, but I consider myself an aspiring creator. I have been doing my own home-made webcomic for almost 2 years now. Heck, I remember drawing my own (extremely crude) comic books when I was 5 years old. Some of the stories I’ve come up with in the intervening years deserve to be cultivated, and cultivated by someone who is willing to put in lots of hard work to make it happen!
Right now, I’m the same age that Warren Ellis was when he was writing Doom 2099 for Marvel Comics in the mid-1990s. Let me reiterate that Ellis already had a short career under his belt when he was in his mid-20s. That’s sort of a sobering thought, when you realize that your lifelong dream appears to be just as unattainable now as it did when you were 5 years old.
Now I should clarify that my dream is to some day professionally create comic books. Heck, I wouldn’t even have to work in the medium of print comic books. If I was able to become awesome enough at doing what I do now and put out webcomics that lots of people read, I’d consider that an achievement.
And in order to do that. I have to put forth some effort. Draw and write every day. Work at putting my stories out there on the internet, so I can get a portfolio going. That sort of thing. I’m not saying that by this time next year, I’ll be professionally writing stories. But if I don’t work at it now, I certainly won’t be.
And if you dream of working in the “industry” you should really be practicing doing what you want to do. You might scoff at the idea of writing a short story for your school newspaper, or doing a continuous story on facebook or twitter without getting paid. But in this internet-powered society, you never know, that might get your foot in the door.
My other two resolutions have more to do with my habits concerning consuming entertainment. First, I really need to do a better job of reading and watching some of these books and movies that I’ve had sitting around forever, but haven’t gotten around to reading or watching, yet.
To put this one into perspective, starting sometime in October, I was reading 1 graphic novel or trade-paperback a day, consistently (and I’m still doing this), and if you looked at all the piles of books I have on my shelves that haven’t been read and filed upright yet, you’d think I hadn’t even gotten started on those mountains of stories. This is not to brag. Not at all.
Truthfully, I’m a little embarrassed it’s gotten this out of hand. It probably got started when I was 18 or 19, a new owner of a credit card, and the epiphany that I could use that card to purchase anything I wanted on amazon or ebay hit me. Now fortunately, I don’t spend like I used to (having a job really cuts into the amount of free time I have on the computer, which is great for me.), but I’m still feeling the effects of roughly 5 years of buying books upon books, and feeling like I’m not going to make a dent in the piles.
So what can be done? Well, I already mentioned reading one book a day. If you’re like me and you kinda deplore interacting with human beings in the real world, then this isn’t a very difficult task, depending on the length of the books, and how wordy they are (for instance, something that was written this year is going to be much less dense and wordy than something written in 1963).
But if you are like me, (and I know there are others out there like me, as I’ve seen other people’s shame piles, and they’re even worse than mine) and you have more unread books than you do hairs on your head, then this is something you should consider. Read one book a day. It will seem manageable and easy, and after a few weeks, you’ll start to notice a difference (and it’s probably a good idea that you put a ban on buying new books during this time that you’re trying to get the piles shrunk down. Occasionally buying a new book as a treat for your progress might not hurt, but it’s a slippery slope that I’m all too familiar with, so just be very careful treading there).
Along those same lines, this last resolution is something that I’ve actually been doing a pretty good job with lately, but in the same way that an addict says they never stop being an addict, even after years of being sober, I need to constantly keep this one in my heart and mind, else I lapse into bad purchasing habits yet again.
Whenever I hear good things about a comic book series, especially the series’ with a firm beginning-middle-end kind of situation from a non-Marvel or DC company, I will say “yeah, I want to read that, but I want to read it all in one sitting.” This is largely because, since I have many many MANY graphic novels yet to be read, if I read, say, volume 1 of Cullen Bunn’s the Sixth Gun, it might take me a year just to get around to getting volume 2.
So if I see something I think I might be interested in, I used to be really bad about saying “I’ll buy all of that series and read them in the span of 2 weeks, so I don’t have to wait for my unorganized butt to order the next book, or for other unorganized butts to take forever to ship them to me.” Now like I said, I used to be a lot worse about this than I am now. I think what really broke me from this was the Angel: After the Fall series that acted as a sequel to the Angel TV series.
After a few months of sitting on a couple of volumes, by the time I had the first 3, I decided to go against type and read those 3, and then I’d go ahead and order the next volume. Turns out I didn’t like that comic. I enjoyed it maybe a tenth as much as I wanted to. So by the time I was finished with volume 3, I didn’t feel obligated to read the rest.
Every once in a while, I still find myself fighting this urge to get all of a series before I start reading it, but even now, I’m finding it easier and easier to not worry about it. Heck, I’ve had some books that were volume 2 in a series where I hadn’t read volume 1, and in my recent quest to read a trade a day, I read some of those, and realized that I didn’t have to order volume 1, because I just wasn’t impressed enough with the book I already had. And I’m seeing quite often when I do this that the volume 2 isn’t quite as impenetrable as I thought it might be if I didn’t read volume 1.
So this might be the thing on this list I would be the least able to help others with, as I really do believe it’s a compulsion. I’ve seen people who know they’re reading a series that sucks, but they keep reading, because they’ve always read it, and they don’t want to stop now. I understand this compulsion, and the only way I know to get away from it is to hit that point where you realize you’ll be better off if you don’t let the completism ruin your enjoyment of the hobby.
So those are my resolutions, and ways that I feel like they might help you with any potential resolutions of your own. Weirdly personal? Maybe. But helpful and enjoyable? Maaaaybe. And that’s really all that’s important, right? So if you guys were inspired by this article list thing, and you want to spout off your own resolutions for this time of year (even if it’s March when you’re reading this), then do so! I want to hear what you have to say! In the meantime, I’ll see you guys later on in the year with some other trashy article!