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An Anthology Comic is a comic containing multiple stories, often by different writers and artists. The different stories may or may not all be set in the same 'verse. Some have art and writing house styles of various strengths.
Anthology comics used to be common in America, but are less visible nowadays. Marvel and DC, originally published several stories in one issue of their respective comics; only the most popular characters ever got a whole issue devoted to them, and even then it was typically a group of shorter stories about the character. Nowadays, Marvel and DC typically publish one or two stories per issue of each comic - the Decompressed Comic and Writing for the Trade pretty much forced the end of the anthology at the Big Two. However, Marvel has recently attempted to revive the anthology format with Marvel Comics Presents; the first series lasted 175 issues but the second only 12. They've since tried giving it another go, this time re-using the Strange Tales title. It is also easier to find independent comics that go down the anthology route.
In Britain, anthologies are the norm. Most are aimed at pre-teen children and consist primarily of a set of one-to-two page gag strips, though there are exceptions. If a comic is successful, a publisher may print a summer special, featuring longer stories which often revolve around some theme. Very successful comics may even have annuals printed. An annual, as its name suggests, is a hardback collection of new stories published once a year, typically just before Christmas. These stories tend to be considerably longer than those in the main comic, and the annual also often has things like quizzes, activities, and text stories.
If a certain character proves to be very popular, they may get their very own comic. This may be either a one-off or semi-regular extended story, or it may be a full-blown Spin-Off. Judge Dredd is a good example.
Japanese comics also tend to go the anthology route. In Japan, each issue tends to be a few hundred pages long, and feature stories about 20 pages or more in length, or chapters (except for gag series and Yonkoma). Those aimed at teenage boys or girls often put the name of their demographic in the title, while those aimed at Seinen or Josei usually use words like young or youth.
In Japan, if a series becomes popular enough, it will often be published in a series of softback collections known as tankobon. Tankobon are the primary format in which manga are published outside Japan.
Anthologies used to be common in France as well, using the same model as British ones though more of the featured Franco Belgian Comics were story-based; some are still published, but do not seem to have made as much of an impact as the American or Japanese publications.
See also Animated Anthology.
- Shonen Jump (featuring different series from the Japanese version's history)
- Shojo Beat (ditto)
- Marvel Comics Presents
- And Strange Tales
- Not to mention Amazing (Adult) Fantasy, Tales to Astonish, Journey Into Mystery, and Tales of Suspense
- Flight and Flight Explorer
- Yen Plus
- Creepy and Eerie
- Notable anthologies from DC Comics and related companies include:
- Detective Comics (taken over by Batman)
- Action Comics (taken over by Superman)
- Flash Comics (replaced by the Flash)
- Sensation Comics (birthplace of Wonder Woman, though technically she debuted in a bonus in All-Star Comics)
- Whiz Comics (from Fawcett Comics, birthplace of Captain Marvel)
- All-American Comics (birthplace of Green Lantern)
- All-Star Comics (birthplace of the Justice Society of America, later changed to All-Star Western)
- World's Finest(taken over exclusively by Superman & Batman; was initially separate solo Superman and Batman stories, plus a few other characters, in the same issue)
- Mystery in Space
- Tales of the Unexpected
- House of Secrets
- House of Mystery
- Wednesday Comics (a brief return to the format [actually, the format was closer to a Newspaper Comics section] in 2009)
- Funny Stuff (a humor title, taken over by its stars, The Dodo and the Frog)
- More Fun Comics (various DC characters debuted/appeared here, including Aquaman, Green Arrow, and Superboy)
- Adventure Comics (long-running anthology title, but Superboy or the Legion of Super-Heroes were usually the stars)
- Most titles published by EC Comics in the Golden Age, including Tales from the Crypt and Crime Suspenstories.
- Mad Magazine began as one.
- Star Wars Expanded Universe comics such as "Star Wars Tales" tend to be like this.
- Comic Book Tattoo; each story is inspired by a Tori Amos song (yes, some are rather weird). Also something of a Tree Killer.
- Image Comics seems to release a lot of thick anthology books like Popgun, a general collection of indie artists, 24 Seven, different stories set in a world inhabited entirely by humaniod robots and Liquid City a collection consisting of work by artists from South East Asia. Image's head publisher Erik Larsen has said he really loves anthologies, which works out nicely for readers who also like them.
- Cross Gen Chronicles
- Phil Foglio's XXXenophile. A notable difference with most other anthologies is that the artist was always the same. However by making clever use of different inkers and letterers, each story does have its own unique feeling.
- WildStorm's New Line Cinema's Tales of Horror was a series that would have alternated between telling two stories set in either the Nightmare, Chainsaw or Friday Universes, or a combination of two of the three. It had only one issue.
- Many graphic novels of Clive Barker's Hellraiser series were anthologies by various writer/artist teams.
- Death Rattle, a 1990s horror anthology comic series with some recurring characters/storylines (such as the Alcoholic Janitor).
- Dark Horse Comics has published Dark Horse Presents off and on for a over a decade.
- Tales From The Aniverse is a variant. The comics consist of several short stories with varying cast members, all set in the same universe and occasionally overlapping.
- The Beano
- The Dandy
- Two Thousand AD
- Whizzer and Chips
- Monster Fun
- Shiver and Shake
- Sonic the Comic initially started as one of these, with stories from many different Sega games appearing in the comic, including Streets of Rage, Shinobi, and the most successful De Cap Attack, amongst others, before Sonic started taking more and more of the space, eventually phasing them all out. The Online Continuation has tried to continue this, adding stories about Panzer Dragoon, Ristar, and House of the Dead.
- Metal Hurlant
- Le journal de Spirou (weekly)
- Disney Comics are big in France with Le journal de Mickey (weekly), Picsou Magazine (monthly), Mickey Parade (fluctuates between monthly and quarterly), Super Picsou Geant (bimonthly)...
- Le journal de Tintin (weekly, 1946-1988)
- Fluide Glacial