Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Shortbox Showcase, Episode #1

"So ... What Age Are We In Now?" Professor Alan and Emily discuss what distinguishes the "eras" of comic books and what trends we are witnessing now that will define the 2010's and following decades. Golden Age fisticuffs, Silver Age Silliness, Bronze Age Relatability, Modern Age deconstruction, and EXTREME POUCHES can all be found ... in the Shortbox.

** We know of at least one major factual error in this episode, and there are probably many minor ones. Remember that we are not experts; just family.

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  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I usually just go decade by decade. Ages can be great conversation starters, but that's also their problem as, outside the Golden Age, they can't be used as an easy reference due to always triggering a conversation about what each Age means and what falls into it. :)

    Not only do different titles enter the Ages at different times, but once you hit the 60s, it means different things to the different companies. The Marvel Age was almost its own thing created as a response to DC's Silver Age, and DC's Bronze Age was, in turn, a response to Marvel. And while Marvel definitely went through refinements of technique, their focus and styles of characters and stories pretty much stayed the same, with even the anti-hero movement going all the way back to characters like Hulk, Namor, early Captain Marvel, and Ghost Rider. Whereas DC did go through genuine shifts, leading to the Crisis and British Invasion eras that would redefine them in the 80s.

    It's not until the proto-Image era of the late 80s/early 90s that a genuine change defined the entire Marvel line of books... and yet this is an Age that DC largely avoided as, with a few exceptions, they kept that style from defining their line. Until New 52, of course. :)

    The 80s is hard to define (Modern doesn't work with increasing distance) because not only was there bold, mature storytelling, but you also saw a steady embracing of the juvenile extremes that would overtake the 90s. I'm definitely among those who would consider the 90s the Dark Age, not entirely because of content, but the almost implosion of the industry as a whole. And thus, as with the dark ages, the modern era is the Renaissance Age. Not just because the big two reset their footing and started to rebuild, but third party publishers managed to find equal footing and maintain popular titles alongside the big two, indie comics have seen a swell in popularity that's taken them off the fringes, digital has brought in a swell of readers for whom either local shops no longer existed or were unwelcome places to them, and multi-media adaptation have exploded into the mainstream making once niche characters into household names.

    So yeah, there's definitely a whole lot of wiggle room and discussion to be had about the Ages. Which is why I just stick to labeling them decade by decade. :)

    1. Thanks for the comments, Noel. I tend to agree that the ages become harder and harder to define as time goes by. And with the different histories that DC & Marvel have, their Silver Ages and Bronze Ages are very different -- I argue that Marvel didn't even really have a Silver Age in the same way that DC did.

      I have enough problems with the current state of comics to not call it a Renaissance, but I appreciate your optimism. Definitely the competitive environment is very strong, between print and digital, with web comics, indies, the big 2, Kickstarter books, etc ... It is a whole new world.

  3. It's worth noting that even the actual Renaissance includes the time of the Spanish Inquisition, so it's not a signifier of universal positivity. Just a re-birth out of the ashes of a much darker era. :)

    I'm glad to be listening. The shows you two are doing are really sharp and informative, and I'm having a blast working up through the archives.

  4. good point, both in terms of history and comic books!