As a fan of comic book history, it’s interesting to look at the various “boom” periods, and the characters and concepts spawned from those expansion points.  The original Golden Age post-Batman explosion featured any number of loony concepts for books, from Madame Fatal (cross-dressing two-fisted mystery “woman”) to The Clown (who was a clown.)  In the 90s, we discovered that all you needed to be a superhero was a pair of shoulder-pads and a noun that sounded badass.  My favorite epic expansion, though, came circa 1966, where the success of the Batman television show led to the creation of dozens of heroes of various repute, from Space Ghost all the way to Tod Holton, Super Green Beret.  Interestingly, the last few years of comic book madness have led to a situation very similar to those swingin’ days of yore, with superheroes invading TV screens, movies and even the mainstream pop culture in ways that we haven’t seen since Adam West, which begs today’s query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) thinks this one will seem equally obvious to proponents of either side, asking: Are we actually in a new renaissance period of comics, or is it just the proverbial dead-cat bounce?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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6 Comments

  1. December 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm — Reply

    While the question asks if we are in a renaissance period of comics, all the phrasing seems to be asking if we are in a renaissance of superheroes…to which I would say yes. The multi-media saturation of super-types seems to be everywhere with Marvel and DC both having features in theatres and live action shows on broadcast TV. Not to mention animation, games and merchandising out the old wazoo.
    .
    I would also say that comics in the broader sense are experiencing a renaissance of their own, independent of superheroes. The web and digital delivery are making it easier than ever for readers to finally experience diverse genres, art styles and comics approaches far removed from the superhero genre which has dominated the peception of the form in most people’s eyes for far too long. The Bitstrips App was the most downloaded Facebook app on the planet for a few weeks there, with comics and cartoons littering feeds the world over as people tried their hand at making comics. I think comics as an art form has become more accepted as legitimate means of expression and communication in the last 15 years or so and that is super cool.

  2. Mark
    December 6, 2013 at 2:26 pm — Reply

    nope dead cat being held in the air by comic book movies as soon as that goes the way of the cowboy… then the big two will die a death and the few indys left will move in and chew on the bones… the 2015 movies are where it falls apart to many big 200+ million movies in one year

  3. Rob
    December 6, 2013 at 3:59 pm — Reply

    Time will tell I suppose but I am cautiously optimistic, there seems to be a genuine effort by publishers to bring in new readers by embracing new distribution models and challenging the perception of comics as a boys only club. If ultimately they fail it won’t be for lack of trying or a lack of passion and creativity in the meantime we all get to enjoy some really great comics.

  4. December 6, 2013 at 7:13 pm — Reply

    I think we’re in a time of renewed interest in the medium, especially from pop culture. But I would hold off on calling it the new golden age or even a renaissance. Instead, I’d simply call it a resurgence. It’s hard to tell what the industry will look like in 10-15 years. i’m just happy people are interested in the medium, and we’ve at least somewhat moved from the “comics are just for kids” phase.

  5. Frank
    December 6, 2013 at 8:34 pm — Reply

    I have a feeling we are in a bubble. Once the movies have lost their luster, comic sales will drop. Not as bad as before the speculator market died, but not good.
    Both of the Big 2 are relying on gimmicks rather than great stories. Hopefully, the independents will not get caught up a downslide.

  6. Luis Dantas
    December 7, 2013 at 1:11 am — Reply

    A bit of both, it seems.

    While there is a renaissance of sorts, it is not drawing the real attention around these parts.

    The biggest sellers are generally speaking increasingly derivative, predictable and overtricked. The New 52 have largely fallen from under their own weight and a lack of editorial skill to match its ambition. Marvel Now is not even attempting to hide its despair to sell at the expense of creativity legitimacy anymore. The Big Two are at their lowest since the 1990s, IMO. It really seems neither can think of much beyond adding Batman/Wolverine/gratuitous references to previous and future “events”/branding limited series as if they were Avengers books anymore. DC tried with the early variety of the New 52 books, but it just couldn’t pull it off beyond the superb art and the richness of core concepts. The writing and the editorial policy just were not up to the task.

    However, the comics market has reached such a width even as it became flattened that there is quite an impressive range of talent and originality around there. But it takes some effort to find it now, and commercial success is not a big clue.

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