We had a recent discussion over on our Facebook group page, about the different ages of comics. Starting with the Golden Age, and going to the present. There have been several different eras and transitional periods since the beginning, so I thought I’d put my two cents in.
1) The Golden Age (Jan 1936 – 1944ish)
New Fun (later More Fun) Comics #1 (first serial comics produced that weren’t newspaper clips) -> The Rise of EC Comics (Super heroes begin to fade out, Horror rises) This era is notable for the creation of super hero comics and the high patriotism shown by it’s classic characters.
2) The Wertham Era (1944- 1954)
EC Comics Horror comics -> “Seduction of the Innocent” published. Horror and detective type stories were on the rise, and super hero comics were on the down swing. Although some super heroes continued to be published, they were few. Covers depicting women in bondage and horror scenes were prominent. This era ended with the publication of ‘Seduction of the Innocent’ and the formation of the ‘Comics Code Authority’.
3) The Silver Age (1954 – 1971/73)
Showcase #4 First Barry Allen Flash -> foggy, but the big two companies did it within a couple of years of each other.. Green Lantern v2 #85-86 and Amazing Spider-Man #121. The silver age was a return to innocence of comics. The stories were written to target young boys, and super heroes returned to prominence. With the re-imagining of DC’s stable, and the creation of characters such as Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, super heroes were back to stay. This era ended between 1971 and 1973.. with the more adult issues being covered at DC and Marvel. Green Arrow discovered his sidekick, Speedy was doing heroine, and Spider-Man’s girl friend, Gwen Stacy was killed by the Green Goblin.
4) The Bronze Age (1973ish – 1986)
This age runs until the tumultuous mid- 80’s. Comics seemed to be growing up, but were still restricted by the CCA. Characters were drawn more sexy (see the Legion of Super-Heroes of the Cockrum and Grell eras). Team books were popular, New Teen Titans, X-Men and Legion of Super-Heroes were the top sellers of the day.
Crisis on Infinite Earths, Secret Wars, Dark Knight Returns and The Watchmen, really changed the landscape of comics. Comics became more dark.. grim, gritty and edgy.
5) The Dark Age aka The Iron Age (1986 – 1992)
With the grittiness of the dark age, comics were no longer aimed at the younger readers, and comics are harder to find at your local convenience store or pharmacy. Books go to direct comic stores only. Soon, a group of artists become fed up with not owning their creations and form Image Comics, ending the age, and changing the face of comics forever.
6) The Image Era aka The Copper Age? (1992 – 1998)
Many independent companies become inspired by Image’s success. A wide variety of comics are published, but many die quickly. Variant covers are the norm.. holographic covers, foil covers, books with bullet holes. Speculators buy every #1 and variant book they can get their hands on. Gimmicks are tried by all the publishers. Heroes Reborn, Death of Superman, Batman’s broken back, etc. Marvel filed for bankruptcy and sales plummet.
7) The Dynamic Age (coined by CBR writer) (1998 – 2004)
The rise of new blood at DC and Marvel (Dan Didio and Joe Queseda) ushered in a time of growth for both companies. The two companies tried new things, including Marvel’s Ultimate Comics line, and DC’s Young Justice, Major Bummer, Chase and more. Overall, it’s a good time to be a fan, with both of the big two basically recovering from the implosion of the previous age.
8) The Event Age (which the name must be changed.. it’s almost a Dark Age 2) (2004-2011)
Things grow darker again, as the Comics Code is removed from many books. Books such as Identity Crisis and X-Men are incredibly dark and violent. Decapitations, rape, and other horrible actions are depicted in many comics. Event books were published constantly by companies. Sometimes multiple events were occurring at the same time throughout the companies lines.
9) The Digital Age (2011- Present)
Publishers go day and date digital, meaning, comics are offered online the same day they go to print. It’s specifically marked by DC in September as they released their ‘New 52’. This age is still going, as the companies continue to perfect their digital releases, and try new things with the technology. As the use of personal tablets and cell phones grow, it can be assumed that digital comics will grow along with them.