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80th Anniversaries Celebration

Both Batman and Marvel Comics celebrated their 80th anniversaries in 2019! 

Batman's first appearance was in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939.

Marvel Comics started its life as a branch of Timely Comics in 1939, with its first release being the debut of the Human Torch.

Cheers comic fans, now for another 80 years!

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  • Between the 15th and 19th centuries there are several instances of sequential artwork with text being used to tell stories. Below are some notable examples from each century.
    • 15th century: Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch paints various paintings with sequential narratives that could be considered prototypical comics 
    • 16th century: Antonio Tempesta makes The Life of St. Laurentius, a sequential illustrated narrative with text underneath the images. 
    • 17th century: Francis Barlow draws political cartoons which feature  text beneath the image and speech balloons.
    • 18th century: British cartoonist James Gillray draws paneled cartoons.
    • 19th century: 
      • 1830s: "Penny bloods" (also called "penny dreadfuls", "penny novels", and etc). are cheap, mass produced literature. A mixture of pictures and text, they embody a lot of what early comics came to be.
      • 1841: ​The British satirical magazine Punch is launched. It becomes a haven for many British caricaturists and for prototypical comics.
      • 1886: American newspapers begin to publish comic strips on Sundays, starting with The Yellow Kid by Richard Felton Outcault.
  • Early 1900s: There are now over 150 comic strips in America, in addition to the numerous strips that are in publication in local papers.
  • 1930s: The first comic book is officially published in 1933 called Funnies on Parade, followed the next year by Famous Funnies. Both were reprints of famous comic strips, but were wildly popular.

1938-1950

  • June 1938: Action Comics #1, the introduction of Superman.
  • The creation of the superhero archetype.
  • WWII-era:
  • Late 1940: the popularity of superhero comics waned significantly.
    • Comic publishers instead diversified into other genres
      • War, romance, science fiction, westerns, crime, and horror were all very popular.
    • Superhero titles were canceled or else converted to other genres.

The video below about the Gold Age is from Flashback Comics in Woodbridge, VA. They offer a great overview of comic book history!

1950s-1970

  • 1953: United States Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency
    • Alleged links between comic books and juvenile delinquency
    • Comics Code Authority was established to enact self-censorship
      • Horror and crime comics were cracked down on.
  • A resurgence in the commercial success of the superhero archetype, with a leaning towards science fiction origins.
    • October 1956: First appearance of Flash in Showcase #4, considered to be the true kick-off point of the Silver Age.
    • November 1961: Marvel and Stan Lee release The Fantastic Four #1.
  • January 1966: The Batman live action TV show airs, taking comic book tropes and re-imagining them for a new audience.This kicked off multiple superhero-themed TV shows over the next few years.
  • 1969: Archie comics are the best selling comics of the year, outpacing superhero comics.

The video below about the Silver Age is from Flashback Comics in Woodbridge, VA. They offer a great overview of comic book history!

1970-1986

  • A return of darker stories and plot elements, more related to relevant social issues.
    • April 1970: A Green Lantern issue deals with racism, slum lords, and the hero's own self-doubt.
  • Late 1970: Jack Kirby leaves Marvel for DC comics, breaking up his partnership with Stan Lee. 
  • Veteran writers of the Gold and Silver ages are retiring, making way for new blood and ideas.
  • Shift in distribution from cheap paper at a newsstand to more expensive products sold at comic shops.
  • More non-superhero related comics, some much darker in tone, rise to popularity.
  • 1975: The X-Men series is rebooted, with mutants as a metaphor for real-world minorities, and becomes wildly popular. 
  • 1985: DC revitalizes its popularity with Crisis on Infinite Earths, Watchmenand Batman: the Dark Knight Returns among other titles.

The video below about the Bronze Age is from Flashback Comics in Woodbridge, VA. They offer a great overview of comic book history!

1985-1991

  • The Copper Age is probably the most debated classification for comics, if only because sometimes it will get lumped together into the "Modern Age" while at other points it is its own separate entity. 
  • A rebooting of all major DC characters; where many characters such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, the Justice League, etc. are re-launched or rebooted. 
  • 1988: Superman's 50th anniversary, as well as  "Batmania" in anticipation of Tim Burton's first Batman film in 1989.
  • 1989 cont.: The Sandman comic by Neil Gaiman releases.
  • The beginnings of variant and enhanced covers being used in special comic releases, as well as a boost in production quality and comic book stores offering exclusives and promotional materials.

The video below about the Copper Age is from Flashback Comics in Woodbridge, VA. They offer a great overview of comic book history!

Early 1990s-Present

  • Sometimes combined with the Copper Age.
  • 1992: a group of Marvel artists (including Jim Lee) leave to form the creator-owned Image Comics.
    • Heard of The Walking Dead or Saga
  • Some dramatic changes to long-running characters, such as Death of SupermanBatman: Knightfall, and Spider-Man's The Clone Saga.
  • 1997: Marvel vs. DC comic mini-series personifies the two comic universes as brothers who duel each other for supremacy before creating their own universe that uses characters that marry DC and Marvel together..
    • 1998: Amalgam Comics creates more one-shot comics where DC and Marvel characters are mashed together to create their own heroes after the popularity of Marvel vs. DC.
  • End of the 1990s: The number of crossover comics, which were prevalent throughout the decade, decreases as fans criticize the need to buy so many different comics in order to follow a single storyline. 
  • 2003: The Walking Dead comic debuts.
  • 2006: Marvel's Civil War comics debut.
  • 2012: Saga debuts.

The video below about the Modern Age is from Flashback Comics in Woodbridge, VA. They offer a great overview of comic book history!