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

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

So this was basically the tell all as to why the 90's sucked... I dig it.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Redem:
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.

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.
image
2. Rob Liefeld pretty much 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:

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, 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:
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.

Bob? Eff you for saying Friends was bad.

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!

Anachronism:
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.

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.)

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Really Bob? F.R.I.E.N.D.S? You don't have to like it but I'm pretty sure there is a whole list bad shows you could have put in it's place. Then again...

The Simpsons (recently voted the gretest sitcom from the last 30 years)
South Park
Fraiser
Beavis and Butthead
Friends
Malcolm in the Middle
Animaniacs
Freakazoid
King of the Hill
Everybody Loves Raymond
Spaced
Black Books
Daria
The Critic
X-Files
Law and Order
WCW (early 90s)
WWE (late 90s)
Seinfeld
Father Ted
Cartoon Network
The Fresh Price of Bel-Air
Home Improvement
Batman: The Animated series
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Sex in the City (for the ladies)
Cowboy Bebop
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Kenan and Kel

Perhaps the 90s wasn't a bad decade for television.

CWestfall:

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

*nervous finger drumming* Um. Umm... I was right there with you up until a couple months ago when, in a fit of nostalgia, I tried to watch Hackers. I got through it but it wasn't the movie I remembered. I'm not saying you shouldn't like it, just maybe don't go back and watch it again. It might be better in your head.

Python pretty much rocks, though. I hadn't known it came about in the 90s!

Just out of interest, is it possible that Bob could talk about non-American comics? Where's the love for 2000AD? What about Judge Dredd? Possibly the only character to run for about 30 years in the same continuity?

Hey, SANDMAN and Hellblazer both did fine during the 90's.

Seriously, why no Big Picture for Sandman? I'd argue it's one of the most important comics of all time.

Elijah Newton:

CWestfall:

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

*nervous finger drumming* Um. Umm... I was right there with you up until a couple months ago when, in a fit of nostalgia, I tried to watch Hackers. I got through it but it wasn't the movie I remembered. I'm not saying you shouldn't like it, just maybe don't go back and watch it again. It might be better in your head.

I have this exact problem with Disney films. I watched Robin Hood again with a few friends at university and the experience was so painful that I've promised myself never ever to rewatch The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast (my two absolute favourites). In my head, they can stay perfect films.

I saw Hackers for the very first time a couple of years ago (on the insistence of my boyfriend) and thought it had dated quite a bit, but was still fairly entertaining (ignoring the odd cringe-worthy line). Still not one I'd rush to watch again.

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

This is true, but Image has been bought out by DC, so they're more of an imprint like Vertigo now, instead of a challenger to the big two publishers.

DVS BSTrD:
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!
Linkara!
Egos, bankruptcy, scarceness disappeared!
Movie Bob!
COMICS. ARE, WEIRD!
MOVIE BOB!

Can I hug you now? Like, genuine, huge, I LOVE YOU hug?

God I remember everyone being into Young Blood and other assorted crap books. I can't remember if there ever was any other reason to read Gen 13 than to look at Fairchilds boobs. I'm curious what this dust up you're talking about could be because I follow the industry pretty close and haven't heard any worthwhile news of late. I assume you mean them bringing back all the image characters to DC comics. Meh. It's readable. Barely. Like everything DC these days.

I am glad I entirely missed the whole comic book industry during the decade. >_>

It is weird when so many shows made and marketed towards children had better writing, more actually mature themes, and stand up better to time than the things made and marketed exclusively towards adults.

Gaah! What a tease for the next episode. Like whisking away half the biscuit as I was eating it.

Great episode.
My favorite comic possesions(don't buy much these days) come from aroudn the 80s, leading in to the 90s a bit. Solid writing is the basis to me. Chris Clairmont's Wolverine and Neil Gaiman's Sandman (Dollhouse in particular) are from that publishing era.

Btw, does the next episode have anything to do with Mangas ? :P When I saw Akira in the cinema I became a fan of that series, and who doesn't at least know about the "three episodes to warm up to a battle"-series Dragonball. :)

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

Neil Gaiman vs Todd Mcfarlane. Gaiman created Violator, Medieval Spawn, and Angela when he wrote a couple issues of Spawn, but then was in some legal battles to secure partial ownership of those characters. Ironic considering the whole Image Comics formed to give creators control/ownership of their creations...

Anyways, at the end of Marvel's current Age of Ultron event Neil Gaiman is supposedly co-writing the last issue and Angela will be showing up, which I believe is to segue into Marvel's next event, which I think Gaiman will be writing some of.

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/21/marvels-age-of-ultron-features-controversial-angel/

I love that your shining example of bad 90s comics is Youngblood. Everything possibly wrong with that era of comics summed up in one pile of crap.

And while I will agree with many others here that the 90s was actually pretty good (I'll take it over the 80s any day), that was not a great time for comic books. And yes, I know there was some great stuff out there, I'm talking on more general terms.

saintdane05:

DVS BSTrD:
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!
Linkara!
Egos, bankruptcy, scarceness disappeared!
Movie Bob!
COMICS. ARE, WEIRD!
MOVIE BOB!

Can I hug you now? Like, genuine, huge, I LOVE YOU hug?

It took me so long to write that I wasn't even sure it was going to be on the first page :P

How dumb was the speculator boom? Even Calvin and Hobbes, whose creator likely knew jack-all about comic books, made fun of it.

nyone want to know more, have a look for any back issues of Wizard magazine especially the bits tailored to pimp 'hot' comics to the specualtors. As I was born in 1980 My teenage years of comic collecting was this era, the times I witnessed fist fights between grown adults over variant covers...

Basically my 90's were spent reading small press and Dc Vertigo books

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