When I stopped reading comics, towards the end of the 70's, I don't remember anything referred to as a Silver Age and certainly not a Bronze Age. I think there was just Golden Age and modern comics. I may be wrong but that's how I remember it.

 

Anyway, when I re-visited comic-books in 1994 I caught up with the likes of Frank Miller's Batman in a collected paperback (which took a time before I realised this wasn't a new book but a reprint of a series from several years before) and the Crisis storyline which streamlined 50 years of DC continuity. I remember thinking, "Ah. Comics have changed. I wasn't expecting that!"

 

When I was reading comics regulary (1966-1978) I was aware that comics had to change and be updated from the Golden Age but I never thought there would need to be a further update. I assumed that Barry Allen would always be the Flash, Dick Grayson would always be Robin and, like Archie and Charlie Brown, my childhood heroes would never have the need to be updated into a new age.

 

My superhero world was gone forever it seemed and, instead of being tempted back, I became more distanced than ever. For me, there was no need for change. The Silver/Bronze Age (as I see it was now called) was fine as it was.

 

I still feel like that today, but I know that comics aren't meant for me and my taste and opinions are dated. Am I alone here, was that how it was for you?

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No...I love when things change and move on.  My favorite decade is always the one I'm in right now.

I kind of know what you mean, but I guess my answer would be that I expected some things to change and some things not.

 

Archie, for example, I always expected to be about high-school hijinks in a lily-white world about 10 years behind the times. But I had access to lots of Silver Age DC and Marvel comics long before I actually started buying my own, which formed my tastes ... and the ones being published when I did start buying my own, in the late '70s-early '80s, were far different, so I wasn't thrown by the changes.

 

That said, I feel the way things have developed in the past decade or so have meant that too many mainstream titles (the Batman books, Daredevil, the Hulk) aren't meant for me and my taste. I'm buying more back issues and stuff from smaller publishers. 

I just think, when I watch Batman: Brave and the Bold, that comics could have still have the same traditional - Silver Age if you will - feel to them. Did things really need to have been updated so? The Silver Age had to exist because the original comics had long gone, but did the Silver Age need a revamp, and why? I'm just curious ....

And if they did - why has B: B&B not? Surely that should reflect current comic-books.

Well, the animated series is made for kids by long-time fans...much like many of the comics made by the second generation of creators (Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, etc) were.  The silver age really has, especially at DC, its foundation on the idea that respect for authority was right because the establishment was essentially good.  Then came the late 60s.  When you see American citizens beaten on the street because they want to sit in a restaurant and be served or even vote...or the President of the United States found to be part of a criminal plot to circumvent democracy...that feeling of respect for the establishment of the time fades pretty hard, especially in young people.  Comics had to change, because America changed...dramatically.  Stan Lee saw this early, I think, and responded.  But the real heavy lifting came from people like Denny O'Neil, Neal Adams, and Gerry Conway.  As the 60s and 70s faded into the 80s, with Reagan and Thatcher, you had creative people, as they will do, respond to those more conservative viewpoints.  Punk was coming into its own and our punk bands were Frank Miller and Alan Moore.  The 90s were full of big money dreams and thus, you get Image and the speculation market.  This first decade of the 21st century has seen an explosion of superheroes in multiple media.  I think that many of the mainstream superhero books now are responses to the television, game, and movie versions of our heroes.  In fact there is so much, now, overlap between the creative people involved that comics are just a spoke in any superhero's story. 

 

I like that there are multiple titles for the most popular superheroes (Avengers, Spider-Man, Batman, Justice League, Titans) with different audiences in mind for each.  It allows me to share my love for, say, Batman with my girls who love him from the cartoons as well as giving me a fantastic adult crime story in Detective Comics.

 

Oh...and you can buy Batman: The Brave & The Bold as a comic...it's just like the show.  :) 

I've been reading comics since about 1960, and I knew that the Silver Age was ending when it did (1970) because things were changing so fast and drastically and not especially for the better. In large part, it was because super-heroes were not selling well, and Marvel and DC were frantically trying to find what did work, in a time when authority figures were as much the villain as the villains were. Couple that with many creators getting older, being ostracized and retiring, and big changes were afoot.

The Silver Age term was first used in the early 1970s, but it came more into vogue as we moved away from it a little and it gained some collectibility status. Not everyone agrees on when it ended or what followed; I think Showcase #4 is the last dating point that the majority (but not all) fans agree on.

A lot of movies and TV shows hearken back to those comics because they were the beginnings of many heroes, and the early formative times of heroes are the most interesting, because the learning curve is so steep. Also, most of those stories were shorter, done-in-one (or a few) and were written for younger audiences than today's comics are. So they're easier to adapt, especially for cartoons. They have a real sense of wonder and joy to them that creators in other media want to capture.

My column for CBG this month (which I just got in the mail yesterday and should be posted to my Columnist section at cbgxtra.com soon) looks at some of the key events of 1971. There were a lot of major things going on in that time as comics tried to find subjects and formats that would bring back their audience.

 

-- MSA

 

"I still feel like that today, but I know that comics aren't meant for me and my taste and opinions are dated. Am I alone here, was that how it was for you?"

 

Every longtime reader faces this eventually. For me, the rise of Image, in the early '90s, signaled that a new generation had arrived -- and it sure wasn't mine. (I felt the same way the first time I heard Nirvana on the radio.)

 

This used to dismay me, but I've come to accept it as The Way Things Are. I may wish Spider-Man and the FF still looked and read like they did in 1967, or 1972, but I know that won't happen. Many of the current writers and artists weren't alive then. Why would they want to recreate the Silver Age? Or even the early Bronze Age?

 

Fortunately, they are many affordable reprints of comics from the '60s, '70s and '80s. And these keep me entertained.

 

Great post, Doc.  Very well put.  I only read those Denny O'Neill JLA comics recently myself and you can feel the ground shifting under your feet as you read them.  Much more concerned with INjustice of America, than justice!

 

What contributed to the change feeling so sudden was the fact that DC sacked a lot of its longterm writers and artists overnight in 1968, because they asked for health and retirement benefits.  At the same time, apparently, DC and Marvel were not looked on as good places for creative types and illustrators to work in the wider scheme of things*, so the guys taking over were very young and perhaps hippy 'outsiders' themselves.

 

George said: This used to dismay me, but I've come to accept it as The Way Things Are.

 

This is wisdom.  To everything there is a season. 

 

My head knows this, and I've often argued on these boards for the new generations right to shake things up and tell their own stories.  But my heart thinks there is a lot wrong with current comics. Actually objectively WRONG!  :-)  In some ways they've definitely swung back to the right, after a long period where the likes of O'Neill, Mantlo and Moore tried to liberalise them up.

 

So I definitely understand the pain of the Silver Age fans.

 

I can see that I'm luckier than the SIlver Age fans though, because if I choose to draw a line at the end of my favourite era - 1990, say, or 2004, I still have way more stuff to read and enjoy than if I had to draw the line at 1968!

 

Mr SA said: My column for CBG this month (which I just got in the mail yesterday and should be posted to my Columnist section at cbgxtra.com soon) looks at some of the key events of 1971.

 

Sounds very interesting.  I'll have to look it up.  Does the birth of some very discerning comics readers in that year figure in your list?  :-)

 

*This may be not unconnected to the previous point!

I can see that I'm luckier than the SIlver Age fans though, because if I choose to draw a line at the end of my favourite era - 1990, say, or 2004, I still have way more stuff to read and enjoy than if I had to draw the line at 1968!

First of all, there's nobody luckier than SA fans who grew up on those comics. Being around at the beginning is always fun. I just needed to say that.

But besides that, just because we have a favorite period doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of good comics that came out before or after that. In some cases, they get overlooked because we aren't looking so closely any more. There may not be as many as during our own favorite period, but there are still a bunch all the time. Even when Sturgeon's Law applies, that still leaves 10% to seek out.

That's why I like seeing Marvel and DC extend their thick-volume b&w reprints into the 1970s and back to the 1950s. There are a bunch of cool comics I missed in those periods. I may not need ESSENTIAL DAZZLER or NOVA, but there are others they're doing that are interesting--and at $17 or so, they're a great deal.

I just wish it was easier for them to do those, because there are a bunch of unreprinted gems, from Captain Comet to Master of Kung Fu.

-- MSA 

What I like about the beginning and end of the Silver Age - and the start of the Bronze age - is that there was no big fanfare.

Probably because no-one realized the significence of Showcase #4, Jack Kirby leaving Marvel/Conan #1/Death of Gwen Stacy (whenever the Silver Age ended) or Giant-Size X-Men #1 - was that the start of the Bronze Age?

...I see the AM#96-98 Harry drug story - and the lightening of the Code it led to - as the " Curtain up ! " on the " full " beginning of the Bronze Age - Weird Age/AM-MR Age , as it were , like the Atomic Age , a " lesser/in-between " age .

  The story came after the end of the Stan-Jack partnership and Jack moving to DC , Wesinger's retirement , DC spectacularly cutting down on its super-hero titles and especially discovering how popular mystery anthologies were , Marvel's more " arty " fan favorites from their '68 boom ( Silver Surfer , Nick Fury ) proving non-financially viable , a late-60s tendency to look back to other genres ( Western , romance ) as well , DC's large cleaning out - whether by attrition or " You said ' medical benefits ??!!! ' " cleaning out - of much of their writing staff , the beginning of steady , small-scale , price rises after the 15c rise , the S&S genre's rise , and even , outside of super-hero comics as such , the rise of Warren-style b&ws from other companies and Hanna-Barbera moving their old-school characters from Gold Key to Charlton as all things that showed that the comfortable Sulver Age statis was ending ! Even that technological advances made Golden Age reprints apparently more technologically do-able in the Bronze Age then they were during the Silver , thus making older reprints more doable - ?

Probably because no-one realized the significence of Showcase #4, Jack Kirby leaving Marvel/Conan #1/Death of Gwen Stacy (whenever the Silver Age ended) or Giant-Size X-Men #1 - was that the start of the Bronze Age?

I think many people realized these were big deals, but they're mostly big because of subsequent events. To some extent, those feel like natural outgrowths. It usually takes some distance to realize just how much was changing. The demise (or at least minimalization) of almost every genre since the mid-1980s makes it tougher to find major changes after that.

I think there are some to be made, but they get more indefinite. And it's hard enough to get people to agree on the ones that stand out more from past ages, so the chances of finding much agreement after that is pretty slim.

Certainly, I thought something senses-shattering was happening when I heard Kirby was leaving Marvel to go to DC. That didn't even seem possible. With all the other changes going on since about 1968, it was apparent things were no longer the same with comics. But SO much was changing around then throughout culture that comics changing didn't stand out.

The death of Gwen Stacy was an astonishing, unexpected event, but I don't know that it influenced much else, so I have a hard time using it as a milepoint. It does kind of epitomize the end of innocence or something like that, but that's more symbolic than truly influential in the way Showcase #4 or Kirby jumping to DC was.

I think I may have been the first to propose that GS X-M began the Bronze Age. Most people don't agree, they put it at some nebulous early-1970 point. But they're wrong, as any fool can see. 

-- MSA

...Okay , I'm going to bring something innto here that I was thinking of putting up as a new thread BEFORE I saw this one .

  To wit:

What if the Silver Age had ended differently for DC ???

  DC had a lot of vacancies in their writer slots as the SA ended and the BA started , dut to the attrition (I assume) - and flat-out throwing out that had happened with much of theor writing staff as the Sixties - and the SA - headed to an end .

  As the " High " SA , say 1961 or so on , continued , really , a large percentage of the people who wrote stories at DC , especially super-hero ones , especially especially the most-tradionally " fan "-invested ones ( The SuperMort and Schwartz ones . ) , really , were the same people who had been writing comic-book stories since comic books began ! Fox , Broome , Seigel , Binder , Drake...Well , as the 60s/SA played themselves out this changed , FBD mentioned the term " union " and got the SCott Walker boot for their efforts ( Or , anyway , sharply reduced . ) ,  Seigel burned his bridges at DC with Lawsuit 2.0 , Binder I suppose just moved on...As the 60s ended there was a strong vacancy in the previously-filled writing slots - Even as the number of " lesser " super-hero titles reduced , so the room tended to be at DC's " top " titles !

  As the BA took off , there was lots of room for the " new " boys - Een , at least for Denny O'Neill , at the editorial level !

  So , DC rather updated themselves , and , even though they were finally surpassed by Marvel as the #1-selling comic book company during the 48 Pages/Bigger & Better era...DC was able to deal with the new reality corporately and continue as a strong #2 competitor .

  How might this have worked differently - both for DC's product...

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