Comic Book Pros Mock, Deny Complaints From Veteran Shop Owner Regarding Abysmal State Of The Market: “His Business Is Dying Because He Refuses To Change With The Times”

Spider-Man and the Green Goblin come to blows on John Romita Jr.'s variant cover to Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 6 #36 (2023), Marvel Comics
Spider-Man and the Green Goblin come to blows on John Romita Jr.'s variant cover to Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 6 #36 (2023), Marvel Comics

[Editor’s Note, December 15th, 2023: Following the explosion of the term’s popularity after this article’s publication, and as it occurred in relation to the news detailed below, a brief section has been added to the end of this article explaining the origin of the term ‘cancel pigs’.]

In the latest instance of fan and retailer complaints concerning the state of the industry falling on deaf, if not unnecessarily combative ears, a number of comic book professionals have responded to a public plea from a veteran shop owner over the quality of Western publishers’ current output with not consideration, but rather outright derision and mockery.

Star-Lord and Nova sacrifice themselves to prevent Thanos from escaping the Cancerverse in Thanos Imperative Vol. 1 #6 (2010), Marvel Comics. Words by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, art by Miguel Sepulveda, Jay David Ramos, and Joe Caramagna.
Star-Lord and Nova sacrifice themselves to prevent Thanos from escaping the Cancerverse in Thanos Imperative Vol. 1 #6 (2010), Marvel Comics. Words by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, art by Miguel Sepulveda, Jay David Ramos, and Joe Caramagna.

RELATED: Marvel Comics Executive Tom Brevoort Denies Industry Is Dying, Instead Argues “What Is Likely Happening Is That The Market Is Changing”

This latest round of discourse was first kicked off on December 1st, courtesy of the fourty-second and latest episode of The Comic Palace Reborn, a ‘slice-of-life’ YouTube series run by the owner of the eponymous Haverhill, MA retail store, Glenn O’Leary, which documents the day-to-day interactions he experiences with customers in the shop.

[Time Stamp: 12:58]

In this episode, among the many individuals who speak to O’Leary is a customer referred to only as Mike, who during his time with the shop owner took the opportunity to lament the fact that Western comic book publishers – particularly Marvel Comics and DC – “keep watering [their books] down.”

“I don’t know if it’s watered down, or if it’s just kinda repeating the same stories in a different show, in a different way,” said Mike. “I get a lot of surprises from the indies.”

Marvel ruins Ben Reilly's character for nothing more than shock value in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 5 #93 (2022), Marvel Comics. Words by Zeb Wells, art by Patrick Gleason and Bryan Valenza.
Marvel ruins Ben Reilly’s character for nothing more than shock value in Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 5 #93 (2022), Marvel Comics. Words by Zeb Wells, art by Patrick Gleason and Bryan Valenza.

In turn, the show then cuts to find O’Leary offering Mike even further examples of the industry’s wanton mistreatment of the very properties they’ve been tasked with shepherding, beginning with his declaration that Marvel villain “The Hood was a fantastic character and then they just made him idiotic and they ruined a great character.”

“You know,” the shop owner continued, “The Hood comes out of nowhere – believe it or not, that idiot Brian K. Vaughn, I believe came up with him. The guy from Saga, the guy that can’t get a book out on time, right? He used to be a brilliant writer and a worker, but now he’s just a lazy chump.”

The Hood has had it with The Avengers in New Avengers Vol. 1 #37 "The Trust (Part 6)" (2007), Marvel Comics. Art by Leinil Francis Yu and Dave McCraig.
The Hood has had it with The Avengers in New Avengers Vol. 1 #37 “The Trust (Part 6)” (2007), Marvel Comics. Words by Brian Michael Bendis, art by Leinil Francis Yu and Dave McCraig.

RELATED: Marvel Comics Writer Dan Slott Defends Zeb Wells’ Abysmal ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ Run: “Storytellers Have To Take Risks And Try Things That Haven’t Been Done With That Character Before”

“So they get The Hood going, he’s a main part of the Marvel universe, main part of the villains,” O’Leary further detailed, ostensibly referencing Brian Michael Bendis’ subsequent use of the villain as a major antagonist for his New Avengers team. “That storyline ends? He just kind of disappears. Then he goes after the Infinity Gauntlet gems, gets a couple gems, but he’s just an idiotic clown and then he disappears and [now] he shows up once in a while.”

Proceeding to pick up a copy of the villain’s then-recently published appearance as an opponent to the eponymous Spirit of Vengeance in Ghost Rider Annual Vol. 3 #1, O’Leary then closed out his specific thoughts on The Hood by declaring, “So, I’m hoping they do him well in this book.”

The Hood seeks the Hallow Gospels in Ghost Rider Annual Vol. 3 #1 "Halloween Spirit" (2023), Marvel Comics. Words by Benjamin Percy, art by Danny Kim, Kim Campbell, and Travis Lanham.
The Hood seeks the Hallow Gospels in Ghost Rider Annual Vol. 3 #1 “Halloween Spirit” (2023), Marvel Comics. Words by Benjamin Percy, art by Danny Kim, Kim Campbell, and Travis Lanham.

However, this brief moment of optimism was far from the end of O’Leary’s thoughts on the overall topic.

Prompted by his own recollection of The Hood’s less-then-respectable publication history, the shopowner then turned to decry how, “Now [publishers] just make idiotic characters most of the time. They finally got somebody good and then they stopped using them. I don’t know why. Change of the guard maybe. Then again, maybe a different change of writers.”

His attentions now fully focused on the industry at large, O’Leary then speculated that this overall decline in the industry’s quality was due to the fact that “Writers nowadays, they don’t care about who or what the character is anymore. Most of these new writers don’t have a love of comics like these older writers had. All they care about is ‘How do I put myself in the book?'”

Mandy argues with her mother over her future in I Am Not Starfire (2021), DC. Words by Mariko Tamaki, art by Yoshi Yoshitani.
Mandy argues with her mother over her future in I Am Not Starfire (2021), DC. Words by Mariko Tamaki, art by Yoshi Yoshitani.

To this end, the shopowner declared, “No, we don’t care what you would do if you were Iron Man. We don’t care who you are. You’re writing Tony Stark, you’re not writing yourself in a book. If that’s the case, write your own comic with you in it. No one will read it cuz nobody cares.”

“People grew up, are growing up, loving Peter Parker, loving Miles Morales, loving Captain America,” O’Leary added. “We don’t need you to put your input in it, just write Steve Rogers. Don’t write ‘What would Steve Rogers be if I was Steve Rogers?’ That’s not how it works. But that’s, again, how most of these new people right nowadays, that’s why most of this stuff is s–t, because [readers] don’t care about what [a given writer] would do because we don’t care about your life whatsoever.”

“Just write a book, get paid for what you do, get paid for what you’re supposed to be doing, and make it a good story,” he finally concluded. “We don’t need your opinions.”

Barry Allen returns from the Speed Force with a warning in Final Crisis Vol. 1 #2 "Ticket to Blüdhaven" (2008), DC Comics. Words by Grant Morrison, art by J.G. Jones and Alex Sinclair.
Barry Allen returns from the Speed Force with a warning in Final Crisis Vol. 1 #2 “Ticket to Blüdhaven” (2008), DC Comics. Words by Grant Morrison, art by J.G. Jones and Alex Sinclair.

Initially, O’Leary’s take did not garner any widespread attention – as of writing, the relevant episode of The Comic Palace Reborn sits at only 5,516 views.

However, this all changed when, a few days after the premiere, the segment in question was clipped and shared to Twitter by user @DefNotTy.

But when O’Leary’s opinion finally caught the attention of the very industry he was criticizing, its members chose to eschew showing any semblance of humility or self-reflection in favor of not just insulting the frustrated shopowner, but blaming him for the problems that they themselves have wrought.

In a now-deleted tweet, former Venom Vol. 4 and Thor Vol. 6 dismissed O’Leary, sarcastically writing, “Don’t you guys hate how when you go into a hardwore store how the guy behind the counter always tells you how much hammers suck?”

Donny Cates weighs in on The Comic Palace owner Glenn O'Leary's criticism of the industry
Archive Link Donny Cates via Twitter

The creator of Ahoy Comics’ The Wrong Earth, Jamal Igle, likewise claimed, “He’s gonna be real shocked about how all comics have been written and how writing in general works. His business is dying because he refuses to change with the times.”

Jamal Igle weighs in on The Comic Palace owner Glenn O'Leary's criticism of the industry
Archive Link Jamal Igle via Twitter

“There’s a simple rule in sales,” continued the former Marvel Comics and DC artist in response to a user questioning O’Leary’s decision to publicly decry the abysmal state of the industry “Showing contempt for the product, shows contempt for the customer. Don’t do it. Sell everything like you love it.”

Jamal Igle weighs in on The Comic Palace owner Glenn O'Leary's criticism of the industry
Archive Link Jamal Igle via Twitter

In performing his own write-off of O’Leary’s concerns, former Spider-Man franchise editor Tom Brennan asserted, “30 year comic shop owner knows nothing about how comes have always been made.”

Tom Brennant weighs in on The Comic Palace owner Glenn O'Leary's criticism of the industry
Archive Link Tom Brennant via Twitter

Adding his own thoughts, current Carange Vol. 3 and Detective Comics Vol. 1 writer Ram V pushed back, “Anyone who describes writing as ‘You get paid to write the stuff we want…’ has not a clue what writing is about.”

“I don’t know how many times people need to hear it, that is simply not how art or creativity works,” he added.

Ram V weighs in on The Comic Palace owner Glenn O'Leary's criticism of the industry
Archive Link Ram V via Twitter

Retweeting V’s post, Silver Surfer: Rebirth and Warlock: Rebirth author Ron Marz affirmed, “This. It’s not a restaurant, and you don’t get to order what you want off the menu.”

Ron Marz weighs in on The Comic Palace owner Glenn O'Leary's criticism of the industry
Archive Link Ron Marz via Twitter

Asked by @smithd33 “Don’t you though”, Marz then elaborted on his argument, stating “No, you don’t. At a restaurant, you order what you want — say, a steak medium-rare with mashed potatoes — and it’s made to order just for you. Batman comic, or any comics, are not made to order just for you. You buy or don’t buy something that’s already made.”

Ron Marz weighs in on The Comic Palace owner Glenn O'Leary's criticism of the industry
Archive Link Ron Marz via Twitter

Yet, despite this widespread denigration from the very industry on which he relies on to make a living, O’Leary did not walk away from the discourse without his supporters.

Not only did he receive written support from fan-favorite Power Girl Vol. 2 writer Jimmy Palmiotti, who in a now-deleted tweet revealed, “It is something I tell newer writers all the time , read all the history of the character and understand their motivations and why the audience fell in love with them. It will help you understand who they are so if you change anything about them, it’s in line with who they are”, but he was also invited to appear on The Ultimates Vol. 1 writer Mark Millar’s Millar Time live show to discuss the entire debacle.

Notably, it is within this video that Millar would light the comic book industry on fire with his coining of the term ‘Cancel Pigs’ [Time Stamp: 06:10].

“These tactics, that have been used for a little while, you know, like if somebody strays outside of the narrative a mob forms very quickly a digital mob forms and it’s a relatively small number of people but they’re very vocal and very vicious and they try and destroy someone,” Millar observed to O’Leary. “They come in, and you know, they try and deplatform people. They try and demonetize them in some way.

“I call them ‘cancel pigs’,” the Wanted creator then asserted. “And it’s the people, you know, that try and take other people down try and to destroy people online.”

Sue Storm stops a full on blast from ‘Clor’ with ease in Civil War Vol. 1 #4 (2006), Marvel Comics. Words by Mark Millar, art by Steve McNiven, Dexter Vines, Morry Hollowell, and Chris Eliopoulous.

NEXT: Mark Millar Suggests Radical Plan To Save The Comic Book Industry

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