Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Secret Histoy of Comics

I have often found that I am more interested in the back story of how fiction came to be as much as I am interested in the fiction itself. I have spent many an hour tracking down and reading Doctor who nonfiction and facts about the development of the show. The soap opera of production if you will. I am intrigued by that. I find that the drama behind the screen is as interesting as what is actually on the screen.

Recently I have begun looking at other Soap operas of development. I have become interested in the history of a medium, namely comic books. The history of the comic industry is filled with friendship, backstabbing, love, sweatshops, and of course hate. for some the fledgling industry was a way to make a quick buck, that's what the publishers saw. For others, though, it was a way of expression. Hundreds of children of the 1930s would copy the Sunday comic supplements and learn to draw. Of course many of those children would go on to work in the comic industry and help define a medium. Many of the names that are melded into comic history started just like that. Bob Kane, Jack Kirby, Joe Shuster, the list goes on. But of course there were others that didn’t survive the war on comics.

What I have found is that in the history of comics there was hate for a medium. Much like television, video games, the internet have been accused of rotting the minds of the youth and turning them all into delinquents, comic books suffered this fate almost 80 years earlier. When the comic medium went through this there were many who paid. Many of the artists and writers never worked again in the medium they loved. some even had to change their names, as they were hated and blacklisted. The public outcry was that these creators of comics were terrible people for “warping” the minds of the youth. The comic industry almost didn’t survive.and it took over ten years for it to find its feet again after this golden age.

Once the American Comics Code was put into effect The comic book industry bounced back which brought this second age of comics. . . the silver age. This silver age brought the super hero, which was only a small portion of the golden age of comics, to the forefront of the industry. So in many ways this controversy of the 1940s created the current state of comics that we see now on the comic shop shelves. In reading about these situations I am reminded of the importance of the backdrop of a situation and the effect it has on everything else.

If you are interested in this oft forgotten history check out “The Ten Cent Plague” by David Hajdu. Take a look at some of the backdrop from an industry that we take for granted today.