Lorendiac’s Lists: 10 Types of Comic Book Forum Weirdos

Here is the archive of the lists Lorendiac posts here, and here is his latest, nicely timed for April Fool's Day!- BC.

Author's Note: This list is not a hoax. However, in keeping with the humorously disrespectful spirit of this special day, it does break away from my usual approach for these lists. Instead of talking about strange things which frequently happen inside the comic books, or the reasons the writers and editors may have for making those strange things happen, I just talk about some of the peculiarities of the people who love to talk about those comic books in online forums. I wanted to post something along these lines years ago; but I figured I had better spend enough time on various comic book forums to build up “credibility,” so that people reading this list would recognize “Lorendiac” as a fellow fan and thus know I was laughing “with” them instead of “at” them. I’m not some anthropologist who just wandered in off the street a few days ago and started analyzing comic book fans as an outlandish subculture—although that premise might make a good comedy movie someday . . .

The 10 Types of Comic Book Forum Weirdos

01. The Takes-Everything-Personally Crybaby02. The Broken Record03. The Amateur Psychoanalyst04. The Rumor-Believer05. The Cultist06. The Spoilermeister07. The Vague Recollector08. The Self-Appointed Rulemaker09. The Ten Percenter10. The Listmaker

One quick note of reassurance before we move on: If you're worried about what I might say about you specifically, don't be! In the interests of diplomacy, I don't "name names" in any examples I provide!

01. The Takes-Everything-Personally Crybaby

You say just one critical thing about his or her favorite character, team, title, writer, or whatever – and the Crybaby reacts as if you just called him or her all sorts of dirty names.

Sample conversation:

You say, “I hate the way they killed off Ronnie Raymond just so they could replace him with Jason Rusch as the ‘new Firestorm.’”

The Crybaby responds, “You racist! What have you got against black people?”

By the same token: If you say something against one female character who strikes you as being incredibly obnoxious as her most distinguishing character trait, the Crybaby will accuse you of being frightened by strong-minded, independent women in general.

And if you say something against one writer on the grounds that he sometimes gets ridiculously heavy-handed in shoving his left-wing politics into his stories, then the Crybaby will accuse you of being a right-wing Neanderthal who hates to see an opposing point of view get aired by anybody. (Feel free to switch the tags “left-wing” and “right-wing” around in that previous sentence if it makes you feel better; I’m not trying to pick on just one extreme of the political spectrum here!)

02. The Broken Record

This guy has one pet peeve weighing heavily upon his mind, and by golly, he’s gonna share it with you. And share it . . . and share it . . . and share it! Whatever the topic, he’ll find a way to repeat the same old broken record before he’s through!

As examples:

“DC brings people back from the dead way too easily, as witness the pointless return of Jason Todd a few years ago.”

“The major problem with Superboy-Prime’s Retcon Punch in Infinite Crisis was that it was used as an excuse for bringing back Jason Todd from a well-deserved grave.”

“This recent nonsense in an X-Men title at Marvel shows the same lack of planning that was apparent in the way DC has wandered all over the map in its characterization of Jason Todd since they stupidly brought him back from the dead a few years ago.”

And if he gets involved in a political discussion thread, he’ll probably blame the return of Jason Todd (and how he’s been handled since his return) on the corrosive influence of either the Republican or the Democratic party in modern American life, depending upon the Broken Record’s personal biases.

(Of course Jason Todd is just one example; the Broken Record could be obsessed with any other subject under the sun.)

03. The Amateur Psychoanalyst

The Amateur Psychoanalyst holds fast to his core values. They may be summarized as follows:

1. “I know more about what is going on inside your head than you do!”

2. “Specifically, I know what sort of emotional problems made you express such a bizarre opinion earlier in this thread! And I’m going to share my insights with the entire world!”

3. “However, you don’t know more about what is going on inside my head than I do! How could you possibly? Don’t be so presumptuous!”

In case you missed the point, a “bizarre” opinion in this situation is any opinion with which the Amateur Psychoanalyst vehemently disagrees. Rather than argue against it logically—you know, bothering to mention “evidence” that would appear to contradict your thesis, for instance?—he concentrates on telling you just how messed up your miserable, scarred psyche must be, if you really believe what you just said!

(This is a classic example of something logicians call the “ad hominem fallacy,” but the Amateur Psychoanalyst probably never heard of the “ad hominem fallacy” in his life, so what does he care?)

Looking back on it, the key difference between the Amateur Psychoanalyst and the Crybaby is that the Crybaby is much more likely to “sound” hysterically outraged in his responses as he calls you ugly names; the Amateur Psychoanalyst is likely to “stay calm” and radiate the impression that he is “correcting” you “more in sorrow than in anger” as he goes into greater detail on just why he thinks you’re so mentally messed up that it isn’t really your fault that you’re crazy enough to disagree with him!

04. The Rumor-Believer

This guy seems to believe everything he hears. As an example, he might say—in all sincerity, as far as anyone could tell from his post—“Whoa! I just heard that Stan Lee has been hired to write the next blockbuster Superman movie, with Samuel L. Jackson as the leading man and Lucy Liu as ‘Lexy Luthor,’ the bald mad scientist! They’ll get Elijah Wood to guest-star as Spider-Man! I heard it from someone who heard it from a very reliable inside source in Hollywood!”

‘Nuff said!

05. The Cultist

Everybody has his personal favorites—certain writers, artists, characters, genres, whatever. If we didn’t feel strongly about these things, and didn’t disagree about their respective merits, then discussion forums wouldn’t be nearly as much fun, would they?

But some take it to fanatical extremes. They don’t just say that their favorite creator is “very good at what he does, and I’ve collected all his published works.” Instead, they seem to believe that anything and everything their favorite creator does is, by definition, Perfect. Or so close to perfect as makes no difference. If you try to suggest that even a great writer can have some bad days, they react as if you’re committing blasphemy!

As in: “Anything Jeph Loeb writes is brilliant, and if you read a piece of his storytelling and can’t enjoy the sheer artistry of it, that just proves how stunted your ability to appreciate literature must be!”

(I’m not trying to pick on Loeb and his most fervent fans more than anyone else—please feel free to substitute “Grant Morrison,” “Frank Miller,” “Alan Moore,” “Brian Michael Bendis,” “Warren Ellis,” or any other creator’s name in that example! I don’t care who we’re talking about; anyone who tries to tell me that a certain writer Always Gets It Right In Every Page Of Every Story is going to bring out my skeptical streak.)

06. The Spoilermeister

He either doesn’t pay any attention to the local forum’s “house rules” about putting SPOILER warnings in the title if you want to discuss plot details of a just-released issue in the text of a new thread, or else he goes even further and puts the spoiler material in the title!

For instance, if web-based forums had been such a big deal back in 1985, then the Spoilermeister might have bought “Crisis on Infinite Earths #8” and then posted a thread with the following title a day later:

“COIE #8: The Death of Supergirl: Good or Bad?”

At best, he might have added the term “[SPOILERS]” at the end of that title, and perhaps felt he had done his duty by warning you the text would contain all the messy details of how this death had happened!

07. The Vague Recollector

This guy does not have a perfect memory for every little detail. That is not a crime, but the problem arises when he thinks his memory and understanding of a certain aspect of someone’s continuity is much better than it actually is! Then he makes provocative statements which he (presumably) believes are the simple truth, and this can cause a great deal of confusion in the minds of impressionable newbies who assume the guy actually knows what he’s talking about!

A couple of years ago I saw one fan on a discussion forum make the following assertion (paraphrased in my own words): “Slam Bradley, the tough old private eye, recently was retconned as Selina Kyle’s biological father. Meanwhile, Sam Bradley Jr., Slam’s son, has now been revealed as the father of Selina’s baby. Therefore, little Helena Kyle is the product of an incestuous affair between half-siblings.”

I was not buying the Catwoman title at the time, but I had already heard about the part regarding Sam Jr. as the father of Selina’s baby (who was born just as the Catwoman title jumped forward into “One Year Later” mode in early 2006). However, I was astounded by the allegation that Slam himself was Selina’s long-lost daddy. Since I hadn’t been reading that title lately, I couldn’t immediately swear that this guy was dead wrong about that part . . . but it sounded very fishy to me.

Naturally I asked this fan to please tell me exactly when and where we had been told that Selina was Slam’s daughter. I also pointed out that it was very peculiar that I hadn’t yet noticed hundreds of other Catwoman fans screaming in outrage about the recent insertion of an incestuous pregnancy into Selina’s life.

In response, the guy simply repeated his conviction that it had all been spelled out in the Catwoman title . . . somewhere along the line . . . but beyond saying that in vague terms, somehow he never managed to find the time to point me to any specific issue (of “Catwoman” or any title) which I could buy and read to confirm that he was right about this new twist in Selina’s family tree! Nor did he offer any explanation for why he seemed to be the only Catwoman fan on that forum (or any other forum, near as I could tell) who had even noticed a whiff of incest in the circumstances of Baby Helena’s conception. (Other fans participating in that thread, who apparently were reading the series regularly, tended to share my skepticism; they didn’t recall any recent retcons about Slam being Selina’s long-lost father!)

Giving this guy the full benefit of the doubt regarding the “sincerity” of his original comment, I assume that one of two things had been happening:

1. He hadn’t been reading all the recent issues of “Catwoman” himself, but he did make a habit of reading online commentaries by other fans as a way to “keep in touch” with recent events, and somehow he became very, very, very confused about the significance of other fans’ passing references to the web of various “relationships” (romantic, biological, or whatever) which now connected Slam, Sam, Selina, and Helena.


2. He had read all the “Catwoman” issues which had been released in the last year or more, but his memory was lousy and he now had a garbled idea of just how many members of the Bradley family had recently been revealed to be the fathers of illegitimate daughters! And since he was sure he “remembered” that Slam had been revealed as Selina’s father, he felt no need to dig any issues of “Catwoman” out of his collection and double-check that point before posting his observations about the shockingly incestuous love life of Selina Kyle!

08. The Self-Appointed Rulemaker

This guy tries to tell the rest of us what we are or aren’t allowed to say and do on the local forums. The really strange thing about is that he has no authority to tell us this! He isn’t one of the people who runs the site and moderates the forums, and he doesn’t claim to simply be quoting from the rules previously laid down by those people! (If he does claim it, he’s lying through his teeth!) Nevertheless, he gives the strong impression that he is explaining ironclad rules: “Thou shalt not do this, that, or the other thing!”

One case sticks in my mind. Without naming names, here’s approximately what happened. (But that thread appears to have been deleted from the website in question. So I’m working from memory here!)

There was a thread going about some harmless superhero-related subject. Poster A offered an opinion. Poster B, who obviously disagreed, responded to that opinion in a way which was clearly meant as sarcasm. His remarks were not phrased as a scathing flame meant to insult Poster A; just gently making fun of some aspect of whatever the guy’s opinion had been.

All of which struck me as part of “just another normal day” on a comic book forum!

But then Poster C came along and sharply criticized Poster B for using sarcasm in his reply. Poster C went to the remarkable lengths of saying something along these general lines (roughly paraphrased from my imperfect memory): “It is terribly inappropriate to use such sarcasm in a reply on these forums.”

Please note: Poster C’s objection was not phrased along such lines as “I think your sarcasm was overdone in this case” or “I hope you didn’t hurt the other guy’s feelings” or “I always hate to see sarcasm on this forum because it’s likely to confuse somebody who takes it literally” or anything remotely similar. Any such phrasing clearly would have been a simple statement of personal opinions, which he was certainly entitled to hold and to express, but that wasn’t the way he approached the subject.

Instead, he’d made a much more sweeping and dogmatic statement, as if he actually had authority to “lay down the law” and tell the rest of us what forms of humorous speech we shouldn’t use under any circumstances on that site’s forums! However, it was obvious from his profile information that Poster C had no authority to set new rules on that site, and no one had ever seen any actual “house rule” which prohibited the use of sarcasm in a freewheeling discussion. (How on earth would you go about enforcing such a rule?)

Accordingly, Poster C quickly found himself receiving critical feedback from Poster B and other people, some of which contained (wait for it) . . . obvious sarcasm directed at his bizarre attempt to create an Anti-Sarcasm Rule of Conduct out of thin air! (Under the circumstances, I felt that reaction to his previous post was downright inevitable.)

09. The Ten Percenter

So you wrote a lengthy comic book review, or some other type of opinion piece suitable for a comics forum, and you started out with a provocative title and opening paragraph which set forth your (possibly controversial) stand on the matter at hand.

Along comes the Ten Percenter. He exerts himself to read your attention-grabbing title and your first paragraph! Somewhere in those first few sentences, he finds something which he vehemently disagrees with. Thus, having managed to gulp down no more than ten percent of what you had to say and how you justified it, he immediately skips ahead to the “Reply” option so he can post a fiery rebuttal of why you are “dead wrong” in your evaluation of whatever all the fuss is about. Usually he ends up harping on some point which you know you already anticipated, addressed, and (you hoped), rigorously disposed of, down around Paragraph 6. Your earnest attempt to point this out to him in a reply is often useless—having done his best to “set you straight” by pointing out some vital detail which you “forgot to mention” (in your first paragraph, anyway!), the Ten Percenter is not likely to waste any time coming back later to see if your dull mind actually recognized the justice of his trenchant criticisms of your folly.

10. The Listmaker

A particularly sad case, the Listmaker apparently has nothing better to do than sit around making numbered lists of all sorts of odd things and typing out long-winded descriptions of each item. He tends to use unimaginative titles such as “Ten Types of This,” “Ten Ways to Do That,” and so forth. Pathetic, isn’t it?

The resultant list often stops at ten, perhaps because he has trouble counting to anything higher than the number of his fingers? He’s usually harmless, though. Just pat him on the shoulder and keep a straight face as you gently assure him that his latest ramblings were “fascinating,” and he’ll be quite happy! No need to break his heart by telling him you fell asleep around the time you reached #5 on his list, and that you really don’t care about his half-baked observations on the human condition!

That's it for this year! I don't know what I'll do a year from now. Perhaps a sequel listing another 10 types, or something entirely different?

But while I'm pondering that, here are some links to many previous pieces I've perpetrated over the last few years, comprising what I have come to think of as my Numbered List series. Every once in a while it amuses me to think about some odd aspect of the superhero genre, and to try to list and explain all the different approaches I can remember for that sort of thing, or all the different reasons that ridiculous things keep happening.

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