Monday, January 24, 2011

Comics/Graphic Novels—Brief History and Milestones

Here, I will use the periods designated by Rhoades in order to outline a history of comics/graphic novels. Rhoades (2008b, p. 6) discusses several attempts to establish the "ages" of comics history, but settles on these:

• Pre-1933 Victorian Age
• 1933-37 Platinum Age
• 1938-1955 Golden Age (including the sub-category Atom Age, 1946-1955)
• 1956-1970 Silver Age
• 1970-1985 Bronze Age
• 1986-1999 Modern Age (including the sub-categories Copper Age, 1986-1992, and Chromium Age, 1992-1999)
• 1999-present Postmodern Age

Within each of the ages identified by Rhoades (2008b, pp. 227-229), he also outlines thirteen milestones:

• The comic book format as a magazine folded and stapled in a 6 5/8 X 10 3/16 format (although comics are actually a bit smaller today than comics printed until the mid-1970s).

• The formation of the two giants of the comic book industry, now named DC and Marvel, although the names went through various transformations over the years.

• The superhero subgenre of comics.

• The national attack on comics as a corrupting influence on children.

• The Marvel revolution of comics led by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

• Direct marketing of comics to comic-focused specialty bookstores.

• Comics shifting toward darker themes, topics, and characters, emerging as serious literature.

• Comics experiencing the rise of intellectual property and branching out into other markets—toys, movies, etc.

• Speculators creating a boom and bust in the comic market.

• Comic writers and artists achieving start status and demanding more power and rights.

• Marvel overcoming bankruptcy and the overall comics industry rebounding.

• Comics achieving success in films.

• Comics experiencing an expanded genre with graphic novels and manga.

"[C]omic books are history," Wright (2001) contends, and "[a]lthough [comics] are often grouped together with comic strips, the two mediums are not the same" (p. xiii).

Rhoades, S. (2008b). A complete history of American comic books. New York: Peter Lang USA.

Wright, B. W. (2001). Comic book nation: The transformation of youth culture in America. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

1 comment:

  1. Hi

    I work for a graphic novel publisher called Campfire that aims its titles at kids and young people, with one of our main focuses being on encouraging reluctant and struggling readers to start picking up books for the sheer enjoyment of doing so. At the same time as creating an entertaining read, we also ensure that our titles are high in literary and moral values so that learning takes place subliminally.

    If you'd be interested in finding out more about us then please let me know.

    All the best