I certainly do care about the fans. I wouldn’t be here answering questions from you guys every day if I didn’t.
But there’s a difference between caring about the fans and being paralyzed by them.
First off, you can never please everybody. The fans are not of one mind about anything—which is why Thor vs Hulk arguments can become so heated. When most readers talk about pleasing the fans, they’re really talking about pleasing them. That’s a perfectly valid approach to make, but understand that I’m also getting the opposite approach from some other fan, and a spectrum of approached in-between. Which fans shall I listen to?
More crucially, the fans are routinely terrible about knowing what they will like. There’s an anxiety that runs deep throughout our community regarding change of any sort. And yet, the stuff that the fans turn out to like the best, often enough, is the stuff that’s the riskiest, that dares to change the most.
We talked a little bit about Walt Simonson’s seminal run on THOR a few days ago. Just look at all of the stuff that got changed and played with during that run. Can you imagine what the online response would have been to those same stories if the Internet had existed when they were coming out? “Oh no, they’ve made Thor a horse!”, “They got rid of Don Blake!”, “They’ve changed Thor’s costume!”, “They turned Thor into a costumed frog!”, “They beat Thor to a pulp, literally!”—and so forth. And yet, every one of those stories is a well-regarded classic. Had Walt and his editors “listened to the fans” in those days, though, none of those stories would exist.
So I’m in no way worried about making the fans upset or angry. Comes with the territory. And as long as he stories work out in the long run for the most part, then there is no problem.
A lot of people online and specifically on tumblr, crap all over Tom Brevoort and Marvel Editorial in general but this is a fantastic answer to a great question.
Comic book fans are a lot like Homer Simpson when his brother asked him to design a car for him. They say they want stuff they really don’t and they think they hate things they haven’t even seen yet. Some of the greatest comics of all time shook up the status quo and that’s always going to make fans nervous.
Give stories a chance and vote with your dollar.