I keep coming across interviews with comic book creators who mention how discouraged they are with the relentless criticism and negativity of internet fandom. It's as if cynicism, sarcasm, and harsh critiques suddenly materialized with the advent of internet fan input, while the pre-internet days (by implication) were some kind of idyllic Garden of Eden between comic book publishers and their fans.
Well, I hate to burst their bubble, but you don't have to look too hard to find today's brand of negative snark in yesterday's fan forums. Sure, in the case of comic book letters pages, the format was much more limited and stage-managed than today's more free-wheeling internet age...but the passion and intensity of both eras? Indistinguishable. Here....read this letter from the Avengers Assemble letters page in Avengers #37 (1966) and you be the judge:
"Ruining"? "Lousy"? "Crummy"? "Stupid Lunkheads"?...and how about that whiplash-inducing head fake in the final sentence? I don't know about you, but the fans of forty-one years ago seemed to be every bit as brutally honest (and mercurial and occasionally incoherent) as their 21st century counterparts.
So, how did the boys of the Marvel Bullpen react to such whithering negativity? Did they take their football and go home or whine that there was something deeply flawed or mean-spirited about the fandom of 1966?
Of course not. They kept their game face on, had some fun with it, and ultimately kept the feeling of community intact. Watch the masters at work:
Yes...I know...some internet critics take things way, way too far...and I'm not condoning that kind of stuff. But come on...some of today's creators have a remarkably thin skin, and it would do them well to adopt a bit of their predecessors' good humor and unflappable attitude.