The Big Picture: Comics in The 90s: What Happened?

MovieBob

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Comics in The 90s: What Happened?

The 90s held so much promise for the comics industry then not so much.

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Redem

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Dec 21, 2009
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90's sucked meme...huh bob for it to be a meme you need more than one person that use it.
 

Nooners

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What's Bob referring to there in the End? I admit that I have no clue whatsoever...
 

MovieBob

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Backstreet Boys were fairly good by pop artist standards. Loads better than the rest (N'SYNC, 98 Degrees, New Kids on the Block, BBMak) and certainly better than One Direction.
 

Anachronism

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Wasn't all bad. The '90s was the decade that saw the rise of Vertigo, which has published a lot of the best and most influential comic books of all time, in my opinion. In terms of the medium growing up and becoming actually mature rather than superficially mature - as most superhero books of the time were - the importance of Vertigo can't be overstated.

And while Image admittedly isn't a powerhouse on the level of Marvel or DC, these days it looks likely to surpass Vertigo as the place to go for interesting, original, creator-owned comic books. The Walking Dead is the obvious big name, but you also have great stuff like Saga and Age of Bronze (a personal favourite), which probably wouldn't be published by the Big Two because they don't really fit with the rest of their properties.
 

Tireseas_v1legacy

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Ah yes, the 1990s: when the mathletes began taking over Wall Street and the pre-bubble tech boom, making the big bucks to fund their hobbies such as comic book collecting.
 

Canadamus Prime

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The Speculator Bubble thing is exactly the same as when in television, movies, or games (or even comics) they start doing something that was initially shocking and/or awe invoking all the damn time. When you start doing that it ceases to be shocking or awe invoking. Certainly those older books that became valuable did so because there weren't many copies to go around. Those new ones that they tried to make valuable didn't have the chance because they never became rare and never would.
 

CWestfall

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Redem said:
90's sucked meme...huh bob for it to be a meme you need more than one person that use it.
He put forward very early on that he is not the only one who hates the 90s, and he even provided quite a bit of evidence to back up his claim. I'm no sociologist so I can't really comment on society at large, but for me, the only two things the 90s created that I legitimately like without qualification or reservation are:

1) Python
2) 1995's "Hackers" starring Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie

Kind of a bad turnout for a whole decade.
 

saintdane05

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Image actually helped start the Walking Dead. So, good for them. I think you also forgot to mention a few things:

1. Jim Lee never really wrote his own comic. He was an artist. Pure and simple. He also ended up not only going back to DC, but is now their own Big Artist Guy. See his work on Justice League and Batman.

2. Rob Liefeld pretty much <link=http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/DeathMate.jpg>murdered the company Valient Comics, one of the many, many, many OTHER independents that rose up during the speculator bubble.
3. Writers were important, especially for Marvel. Their Transformers series can be said to be successful purely from the actions of Bob Budiansky and Simon Furman, while the artists are barely remembered. Remember Shockwave? They are teh guys that made him a character that was a badass scientist, rather than a weak Yes Man.
4. Spawn is badass. He's probably the second best thing to come from Image (Next to the Aforementioned Walking Dead.)

Really, 90's comics can be summed up like this:

<youtube=unjq5qGIHZk>
<youtube=Y3Q3I-X3sGc>
 

Falseprophet

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Pretty good summary, Bob. I feel like a proper understanding of what happened with 90s comics would require going into the history of the direct market and Diamond, and the subculture they created. E.g., the direct market took superhero books out of the drugstores and supermarkets where most kids discovered them, and put them in specialty shops which the parents of young children weren't likely to enter, skewing the age of comic buyers into their teens and early 20s. However, this also provided an environment where Big Two books could explore the lessened restrictions of the Comics Code Authority [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronze_Age_of_Comic_Books], and where new smaller indie publishers could float edgier new material like Cerebus and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Those are the roots of your four pillars. But covering the Bronze Age of Comics would need its own episode, and frankly it deserves it: it's a long-neglected but extremely foundational era of North American comics.

Anachronism said:
Wasn't all bad. The '90s was the decade that saw the rise of Vertigo, which has published a lot of the best and most influential comic books of all time, in my opinion. In terms of the medium growing up and becoming actually mature rather than superficially mature - as most superhero books of the time were - the importance of Vertigo can't be overstated.

And while Image admittedly isn't a powerhouse on the level of Marvel or DC, these days it looks likely to surpass Vertigo as the place to go for interesting, original, creator-owned comic books. The Walking Dead is the obvious big name, but you also have great stuff like Saga and Age of Bronze (a personal favourite), which probably wouldn't be published by the Big Two because they don't really fit with the rest of their properties.
Seconded. Vertigo and Image gave most of the British Invasion guys (Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, and some of their artist buddies) their first real breaks in North American comics, which eventually led to the replacement of the Superstar Artist with the Superstar Writer. Around 75% of all the comics I've ever bought came from these two imprints.
 

MovieBob

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Welcome to March is 90's month,
where bad comics burn.
MovieBob's gonna teach you all
a lesson you won't learn.
Liefeld, you're not the smartest.
Image, needs more than artists.
Any artists who had a comic published,
fame gave them a turn.
Movie Bob
Dark Age! Merch! Making blood go splat!
Movie Bob!
Speculator boom! Gotta purchase that!
Movie Bob!
Egos, bankruptcy, scarceness disappeared!
Movie Bob!
COMICS. ARE, WEIRD!
MOVIE BOB!
 

Netrigan

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Anachronism said:
Wasn't all bad. The '90s was the decade that saw the rise of Vertigo, which has published a lot of the best and most influential comic books of all time, in my opinion. In terms of the medium growing up and becoming actually mature rather than superficially mature - as most superhero books of the time were - the importance of Vertigo can't be overstated.

And while Image admittedly isn't a powerhouse on the level of Marvel or DC, these days it looks likely to surpass Vertigo as the place to go for interesting, original, creator-owned comic books. The Walking Dead is the obvious big name, but you also have great stuff like Saga and Age of Bronze (a personal favourite), which probably wouldn't be published by the Big Two because they don't really fit with the rest of their properties.
Beat me to it. The 90s has some of the best writers the industry has ever seen, most at the height of their power, back when there were a few major publishers who were interested in letting these guys do what they did best with a minimum of interference. Alan Moore re-entered the super-hero fray thanks to Image, Frank Miller gave up being a horrible Robocop screen-writer and launched a few brilliant creator-owned books, Gaiman's Sandman was positively rolling along, a young Garth Ennis knocked it out of the park with Hellblazer then topped it with Preacher, there's even a grumpy Warren Ellis coming to prominence at the end of the decade.

But even their success was at the mercy of the speculator bubble, as well-moneyed publishers took chances which were harder to justify in the 21st Century when they were struggling to keep The Flash and Captain America on the stands.
 

rayen020

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so we're just going to ignore all that stuff that was mentioned last week that everyone in the comics was like "do an episode on X" huh?

Thats actually fine by me. (Still think one should do animaniacs though.)
 

Battle Catman

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Bob's description of why the speculator bubble burst (old comics were valuable because not many survived, as opposed to everyone stockpiling new titles they hoped would be worth money some day) is the exact same reasoning I give my friend as to why modern toys will never carry the kind of secondary market price tag as their past versions.

A mint-in-sealed-box Transformers G1 Grimlock is never going to go down in value because in the 80's no one had the foresight to predict people would still be crazy about these toys nearly 30 years later, so very few of them exist. On the other hand, whenever something is labeled "collector edition" or "limited," people snatch up as many as they can, assuring there will be a surplus down the road, effectively shooting themselves in the foot.

Another example: Power Rangers. This year is the 20th anniversary of the original "Mighty Morphin" series. Bandai released a Legacy Power Morpher, a larger version of the iconic transformation device from the old show. It's bigger, it has die-cast metal parts, and it plays the theme song when you press a button. Sweet, right?

Well, fans think so, which is why they're buying two, three, TEN of them, in hopes of turning around and selling them in another 20 years to "pay for my kid's college."

Thing is, the original Power Morphers are so sought-after because THERE'S A SET NUMBER OF THEM IN EXISTENCE. They aren't making any more, and of all the ones that were made back in the 90's, not all of them survived--they've been lost, destroyed, or just thrown out by unknowing parents. The Legacy Morpher, on the other hand, is still in production. I honestly foresee it clogging up Toys R Us' clearance aisles by the end of the year.

But yeah, you can never predict what will be worth money some day, especially when it comes to mass-produced stuff like comics and toys. I can still remember reading the old Toy Fare magazine and them talking about how valuable the first Toy Biz Lara Croft figure was going to be in a few years.

You can find it on eBay for $5 now.
 

franksands

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Image Comics is doing some very good things now, almost 20 years later, like Saga and Chew.
 

Ne1butme

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Perhaps it's my own failing, but the artist on a comic book rarely appeals to me. I'm much more interested in the writer. I'll read anything by Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman. I think the only time i had ever made a decision based on the artist was when i didn't read the sequel to Kingdom Come because Alex Ross wasn't doing the art.
 

Kmadden2004

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Christ, I can't stand Rob Leifeld.

Even just mention of his name ruffles my feathers. I mean, seriously, how is it that a guy who is ridiculously infamous for his terrible art (and worse work ethic) keep getting work as a frikkin' artist?

Grrrrrrr.
 

SonOfVoorhees

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There was awesome Image comics. Savage Dragon, Maxx, Supreme, Prophet to name a few. While some were great, others were great ideas with zero writing ability. Supreme was a superman character who came back to earth and found tons of superheroes taking his place. He was awesome, violent and egotistical. Just no real background or writers of calibre to make him awesome.

Now Image release stuff like The Walking Dead and other creator owned stuff so im glad they are still going.