The Modern Age of Comic Books is generally identified as starting in 1985, and continuing until now. There has been a tremendous amount of activity in comics during this period. A gritty and darker type of leading character, an anti-hero f you will. Creators have become more well known and active in the marketing and industry. Independent Comic have really taken off while the larger companies have gone more commercial, getting more involved in movies and merchandizing.
Here at Online Comic Heroes, this is the age I really grew up seeing and reading. I found it challenging to get into the older comics for quite some time. I can appreciate them now, but when I was a teenager and just starting out in comics I wanted the latest action pack comic.
Two titles in particular are credited with starting off the Modern Age of Comic Books. They are, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and the book many credit with the title of best graphic novel Watchmen. DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths bridged the gap of the transition. Several of their key titles including The Flash (issue #350), Superman (issue #423) and Wonder Woman ( issue # 329), were canceled. All received a re-vamped series with some changes.
Independent companies continued to grow capturing the markets not reached by Marvel and DC. In the early 1990's and right on until today, movie adaptations of Comic Book Titles started to capture a new audience of fans. The advancement of special effects really allowed the Super Heroes to jump from the page to the big screen.
The Anti-Hero, or darker leading character became the normal and even preferred hero to the new generation. Wolverine, Dare Devil, Venom and Spawn. All portrayed Leading Characters, who were not adverse to violence and taking lives. DC, separated their adult oriented action comics into a distinct company (Vertigo) which was outside the normal DC universe.
Marvel's X-Titles just exploded and they used this popularity to print annual cross-over series right up until 1999. Marvel continued to expand their merchandising into collector cards, animated series, video games and actions figures, which brought in a younger audience to their universe. In the mid-90's the market started to slow down and Marvel closed down several of their X-Books.
DC, had four Superman titles running from 1991 to 2000. Each one being released on a weekly basis, you needed to buy each one so you would not miss out on the continuing storyline. In 1992 DC released the Death of Superman. From that point on each Superman Title had a different Superman.
There was a time period of re-imagined Characters, costumes could change. Even the origin of popular characters were free game. I for one was not a big fan of seeing changing origins and re-starts to some titles. As a fan of continuity I found myself drawn to the Image Comic company. In 1992 several notable artists formed Image Comics, a Creator Owned Title. The different artists pursued their own books, several of which had Characters with a shared history in the Comic World they had created. This was a big plus when I was collecting comics actively.
As with the rise of popular things, a fall often follows. The comic book industry experienced a crash in the mid-1990's. Marvel filed for bankruptcy protection in 1996. They have recovered but the industry took a real hit during this time, and in many ways had to scale back some of the merchandising techniques. Marvel has been very successful with movie franchises such as X-Men, Spider-Man and the Iron Man/Avengers team ups. DC has numerous animated series.
Although comic book sales dropped in the second half of the 1990's and early 2000's, trade paperbacks or graphic novel sales have risen. Many artists create larger story lines specifically geared to be a Graphic Novel. The popularity has risen that they are sold in bookstores and can be found on library shelves. I see my comic books as possible graphic novels. I like four part mini-series and may release some of my work as graphic novels.
More and more digital media has been influencing The Modern Age of Comic Books. If you did a search online, you would find upwards of two hundred online comics. Perhaps even more. I think I found a site that collected 172 different online comics together in a listing. Marvel has animated comics for mobile devices and the line between comic book and animated comic is very thin. I still would purchase printed books if my budget allowed. Comics are definitely integrated with main stream culture and movies now. It will be interesting to see what the near future holds for comic books.
I hope you will join us here at Online Comic Heroes to see and also follow our journey through the Modern Age of Comic Books and the new Online Comics and hopefully soon printed runs of my signature series.
I can help you create your own comic book.
I work with creators and writers to bring their ideas to the page.