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Comic books have changed a lot since their start in the 1930s.

Comic Books

General

  • This trope sums up pretty much the entire history of comic books. Before the Golden Age, comic books were just recycled newspaper funny pages, until Superman put a stop to that. When The Golden Age of Comic Books ended in the '50s, everyone thought that the Superhero genre itself was Deader Than Disco, with horror, sci-fi, and whatever else being the new standard. Then came the Comics Code, which killed those, leading to the reemergence of super hero comics in the Silver Age. This era soon became associated with Camp and cheesiness, leading to the Bronze Age. Here, Gwen Stacy died, Bucky died, and Speedy became a junkie, and it seemed "relevant political commentary" was going to be the future of comics. But that ended quick with the emergence of the counter-cultural "Underground Comix" of the '70s.

    In 1986, The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen came out and led the industry into the Dark Age. One comics crash and Kingdom Come later, and Manga is on top, with the Dark Age having become a subject of derision and mockery (along with its associated tropes). However, manga (along with its close relative Anime) is being hit hard by ignorances such as All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles. Now we're back to superhero comics which are in what is called The Modern Age of Comic Books, a synthesis of campy Silver Age classics, Darker and Edgier (where it actually works for the concept), and some Bronze Age-style commentary all trying to live in the "Real World" most of the time. Sales are dismal compared to the Dark Age (with brief surges in popularity following movie releases or Crisis Crossover storylines) and earlier, but trade paperbacks, movie options, and digital distribution help the comics companies to make more money with a less popular product.
  • Letters pages in comic books. While not completely dead (the odd comic book still has them from time to time) the rise of message boards, twitter and facebook has pretty much rendered them superfluous - why bother writing to the writer directly when you can just comment on his Twitter account?
  • Supplemental articles and essays. Comic books often were like magazines. The writers often included inside the comics (often in the back pages) editorials, articles, short stories, and prose pieces that gave a look inside not only their creative processes, but also the work that goes into creating their comics. For the most part, this was discontinued quite some time ago to cut back on costs and leave more room for advertisements.
    • These changes are also related to changes in the law and buying habits of the readers. It used to be that having a page or two of text in a comic (a letters page counted) allowed the publisher to mail subscriptions at a cheaper postal rate. That law is different now, and most comics are no longer purchased through subscriptions anyway, so the letters page became surplus to requirements.

Specific

  • Todd McFarlane has fallen to this level in some circles, with people criticizing him for various reasons, especially his role in ushering in what some people view as the style-over-substance "Image Age of Comics". As a toymaker he's not so bad, though.
  • Frank Miller, initally the Patron Saint of bringing Darker and Edgier back to Batman comics, no longer holds the high reputation that he used to. It started when his later works (The Dark Knight Strikes Again, All Star Batman and Robin, and his film debut The Spirit) faced major scrutiny amongst many comic fans, and now, even his earlier, critically acclaimed works are being hit with the same criticism.
  • The Comics Code Authority; Established immediately after Dr. Frederick Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent which painted comics with a broad brush as contributing to deviant behavior and juvenile delinquency. The CCA was a committe that forced comic book companies to police themselves. Basically, no profanity, no drug or alchohol use, no nudity or sex, no blood, gore or graphic violence, no depiction of authority, government, or law enforcement in a negative light and a host of other censorship restrictions. For decades, most mainstream comics carried the approval stamp. This neccesitated the need for publishers to establish separate lines such as DC's Vertigo so that more mature themes were allowed. In 2011, Archie Comics, the last publisher to still carry the approval stamp, dropped it from all of their books. The parent organization of the CCA, the Comics and Magazine Association of America, is now defucnt and the intellectual property rights to the CCA approval seal were aquired by of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
  • It is a running gag in The Simpsons comics that the Comic Shop Guy refuses to buy Pogs and sells them for ten cents per metric ton. He still can't get rid of them.

  "No, we don't buy freakin' POGS!!"

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