View Full Version : Do you remember when comics didn't stink?

10-17-2001, 05:24 PM
In response to a turn a thread in another forum was taking (one about what you collected when the vintage Star Wars figure lines ended, before POTF2 arrived on the scene), I am starting a thread about comics from about the 70's to the 80's (when the industry began a seeming decline in quality and content). Who amoungst us recalls those days when most of the comics were story-driven and still (usually) had great art. Before the dark times, before Image.

Not to bash Image too much, as their emergence onto the comic market may well have helped ensure that the industry and the medium survived to this day. But they also ushered in the age of the art-driven, storyline poor comic that prevailed for many years. I've been too jaded to persue much in comics these days (except perhaps Top 10 by Alan Moore, though it has come too a conclusion all too soon at only 12 issues in the regular series). There are still gems amoung the stones, but there was a time when there were far more gems, much more for a READER of comics. A lot of the joy and wonder is gone and it is a shame. What are the feelings of those of you out there who collected comics (or still do to this day)? Another issue that was brought up was the demise of the collectability of comics due to collector/speculator "scalpers" in the 80's and 90's. That is an issue I will address in this thread when I have more time (don't get me started on that one, I was very close to the industry during the emergence of Image and the "value inflation" that nearly killed the market).

10-17-2001, 06:22 PM
Lets take score:

BI (before Image) we had storylines like:

The Watchmen
The Dark Knight Returns
Death of Robin Storyline from Batman books
X-Men: Days of Future Past
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga

AI (after Image) we got:

The Spider Clone Saga
Mullet Superman
Azrael as Batman
Homicidal Maniac Green Lantern

Of course, in a round about sort of way, you could blame the downfall of comics on the success of Watchmen and The Dark Knight. Two books that started the "grim and gritty" trend. Watchmen and Dark Knight showed how to do gritty, realistic comics the right way; 99% of the copycat stories that followed showed how not to do grim and gritty comics.

In fact "grim and gritty for the 90s" became one of the most overused phrases when publishers tried to explain their updated characters. It usually meant, "all we did was give him a Rob Liefeld-esque costume, give him a bunch of ridiculously oversized guns and make him squint a whole lot."

10-17-2001, 07:13 PM
Comics comics comics...

Marvel and DC

Yep, b4 image we have the stories mentioned above by BB...plus we have the Secret Wars, Crisis on Infinite Earths, The GL corps and Hal Jordan, the Flash...(Barry Alen), The Batman and his magnificent stories...(who remembers "10 nights of the beast"??) or the killing joke.

Spidey and his adventures against the green goblin and the Hobgoblin...Daredevil and the kingpin...the X-men (Chris Claremont and John Byrne run) etc...Then VENOM...Todd Mcfarlane started drawing Amazing spidey then he got a brand new mag for himself called just Spiderman...then the rest is history...

Now after image emerged with Spawn, Superman died, Hal Jordan went insane, The x-men started having more titles than all the image titles combined...spidey found out he was a clone...then he wasnt, then the green goblin was alive...etc.. Total chaos...

I quit collecting cuzz there were so many titles and all the stories seemed alike...now i occasionally grab a copy of bats or even supes, just to find out whats happening...i was surprised to find that Lex Luthor is president now!!

hehehe...thats comics...i still love them, but i agree that they were better before the dark times...before Image.:cool:

10-18-2001, 10:43 AM
Here's another pre-Image great (if oft overlooked) title, Master of Kung-Fu (actually Deadly Hands of Shang Chi Master of Kung-Fu). I have nearly every copy of this title (which took over a Marvel "anthology" title so has no #1 issue) and, after the initial storylines of Shang Chi as a Bruce Lee clone with over the top enemies, the book is actually quite good almost to then end (when Jim Shooter went insane and wanted to cash in on "Ninja-mania" and demanded Shang Chi become a Ninja, not realizing that Shang Chi was Chineese and Ninjas are from Japan, also the artist at that time, Gene Day passed away, making it easier to just end the title outright). In its glory days (with masterful scripts by Doug Moench coupled with the two best artists to work on the series, Mike Zecc and later Gene Day) it was one of the most mature and engaging comics ever to emerge from the house of Marvel.

10-18-2001, 11:26 AM
Comics used to be awesome. I stopped buying a while ago, a few years now. Everyonce and a while i have the urge to go out and buy a couple but am afraid for two reasons:

1. They will suck, and i will be dissapointed,
2. I will love them and start buying again, when i don't have anymore room.

El Chuxter
10-18-2001, 01:54 PM
I quit shortly afer Image, but I still occasionally get re-hooked on Batman (which has incredible epic storylines, like A Death In the Family/Year Three/A Lonely Place of Dying, Knightfall, and No Man's Land, worked in between long periods of stagnation).

Marvel put out a few great, but terribly underrated, books during the period when everyone got Liefeldian--check out Sleepwalker or later issues of Morbius: The Living Vampire if you get a chance. But for the most part, they sucked. Take Infinity Gauntlet, for instance. A crazed villain who worships Death gets a device that gives him (pretty much) omnipotence. So, of course, Marvel sends Cyclops and Spidey to deal with him. And he's beaten. Ridiculous. Nice art by George Perez, though. :)

As for underrated old comics, check out ROM: Spaceknight (a highly successful late 70s/early 80s comic based on a toy that failed quickly and miserably, from what I've heard) and Power Man & Iron Fist. And Transformers, particularly issues 56 and up (when Marvel realized the toy line was pretty much dead and gave free reign to Mark Furman to create an epic sci-fi tale--excellent art by Andrew Wildman and Geoff Senior in most of these issues, too). And never let us forget GIJoe. Larry Hama gave us the greatest army comic ever, period. I thumbed through the new GIJoe #1 by Image in a comic shop last weekend, and it couldn't compare--it's like a semi-literate high school dropout trying to continue a Shakespeare play. Very sad indeed.

10-18-2001, 03:42 PM
The Infinity Gauntlet was ok by me, it went all the way to the Thanos quest...then the silver surfer mag...(Ron Lim and ....aghh i forgot the writer):eek: then finally the I.Gauntlet.

This storyline continued in the Infinity War and ended in the Infinity Crusade. (6 part storylines which crossed over with nearly all the marvel heroes mags)

But of the three Infinity series the one that was worth reading was the Infinity Gauntlet...(Spidey and Cyclops beat the dust quite easily...as every other heroe in the marvel universe) pick it up if u can to see how they defeat Thanos.:)

Batman:...yep the First years storylines were awesome also...Specially year one and two.

10-18-2001, 04:05 PM
Originally posted by El Chuxter
As for underrated old comics, check out ROM: Spaceknight (a highly successful late 70s/early 80s comic based on a toy that failed quickly and miserably, from what I've heard)

And never let us forget GIJoe. Larry Hama gave us the greatest army comic ever, period. I thumbed through the new GIJoe #1 by Image in a comic shop last weekend, and it couldn't compare--it's like a semi-literate high school dropout trying to continue a Shakespeare play. Very sad indeed.

Good choice with ROM, Chuxter! My best friend collected ROM, probably the single best spin-off of a toy ever! Because there was only one figure in the ROM "line", and it was inarticulate and poorly realized (little more than a stick-figure of a robot with lots of light up accessories and sounds), it seems the creators of ROM had free reign to make something of the character. Mattel seemed to have no plans to develop the figure further, so there was no competion with cartoon plot lines. Over the years the cast of characters grew and ROM interacted with much of the Marvel Universe (even teaming up with Shang-Chi in a haunted house story, if memory serves). ROM was pitted against the evil Dire Wraiths, shape-shifting aliens which were the sworn enemies of the Space Knights. In some ways ROM was kind of a techno-Green Lantern type, but it was a good read.
G.I. Joe was quite another matter in my opinion. I felt it was written down to kids in some ways (the worst example was the plotline involving the Arbco Bros. Circus - Cobra spelled backward - as a cover for Cobra opperations. And in other ways it was almost a vehicle to showcase Hamma's encyclopedic knowledge of weapons and firearms. It seemed like any time anyone pulled a gun or drove up in a tank, they had to rattle off the technical name of said ordanance as if they were reading from a munitions catalog! I never really followed that one much, but even still, it was far better than Dark Horse's endeavor, featuring a punky, EXTREME! GI Joe team.
Other old marvel licensing gems were Shogun Warriors (a kind of precursor to todays Macross and other giant robo comics) and Godzilla, a surprisingly well written title with lots of monsters for big G to fight and intense interweaving with the Marvel Universe. Unfortunatly it had a running "hunt down Godzilla like I'm Captain Ahab" plotline featuring Marvel's own Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D.

I'm glad to see this thread is making folks nostalgic for the tail end of the "newsprint" period of comics. Today NOTHING is printed on newsprint, the publishers long-standing excuse being that the better papers cost just as much as the cheap ones, but I think that is only partially true. Keep those nostalgic recollections pouring in!

Rollo Tomassi
10-19-2001, 09:45 AM
I started out with G.I Joe and Transformers. Then I picked up Punisher #14 and was hooked on the Marvel Universe. I soon started in with the X-Titles. The period between X-Men #200 and Inferno is the best IMO. The group lost and wayward, without the leadership of prof. X and the three crossovers starting with Mutant Massacre, and ending with Inferno where they are crossing over, but don't actually meet. X-Factor vs X-Men was awesome. The original Teams"Mutant Hunters" vs the new recruits....anyway, after that I read Spidey and then got into the Avengers titles. The Armor Wars in IronMan and the whole stretch where Captain America lost his unifirm to John Walker (USAgent) the first time were great. I also think Titan Hunt in the New Titans series was awesome. Slade killing his son at the climax. Great stuff.

But then Image came along and ruined everything. Someone should have told those guys that just because you are good artists doesn't mean you know shinola about story telling, plot and character development. Well, I tried collecting after that, but all the fun had gone out of it with the perpetual crossovers and variant covers and superdeluxe anniversary issues. How does one have 3 anniversary issues in one year? And with the royalty rules changing, any new writer or artist would come in and create all new characters that he was earning money on rather than developing existing ones. The X-men's ranks swelled to 400 and everybody looked the same with all their belts and buckles and pockets. And they all sounded the same thanks to drawers trying to write. SO I gave up and started collecting Star Wars again. So here I am.

10-19-2001, 08:45 PM
I remember Mark Silvestri's excellent artwork during the Fall of the Mutants storyline (in which I actually believed all the mutants were going to get killed off) combined with Chris Claremont's excellent storytelling. When I really started picking up X-Men religiously was after Jim Lee began doing the artwork. I remember my first two issues: the X-Men had just been thrown through the Siege Perilous, Wolverine was going by the name of Patch, Psylocke woke up to discover she had turned Mandarin Chinese, and Jubilee made her smashing debut (for better or worse). I actually liked how Jubilee played against Wolverine, but always thought she was a rip off of Frank Millers's Robin from The Dark Knight Returns.

When it became known that all the artists I loved (McFarlane, Lee, Silvestri, Keown, Keith) were "rising-up" against the establishment and going it on their own, it seemed like a dawning of a new age. Which is actually what it was, just not the new age anyone wanted.

Not to be totally anti-Image, if anyone hasn't read Kurt Busiek's Astro-City then you are really missing out. Of course I can only vouch for the first six issues, as they are the only ones I have read. Also, is you've never read Marvels and Kingdom Come then get offline and go buy them right now!!!!

Anybody remember Marvel's New Universe? I used to love Star Brand, probably the only really worthwhile title until John Byrne took over and did what he does best. Ruin everything!:mad:

Eternal Padawan
10-20-2001, 11:06 AM
Bigbarada, did you ever read Quasar? The guy writing that took it upon himself to wrap up tons of alternate universe stories in the Marvel Universe. He wrapped up the Squadron Supreme and brought them to our Earth. He made it known the what happened to Barry Allen (Buried Alien) after Crisis, and he went to the New Universe and brought back the StarBrand and accidentally gave it to his girlfriend in the Marvel universe. It was a pretty fun comic that didn't get a lot of attention.

Bel-Cam Jos
10-20-2001, 03:25 PM
John Byrne's done a great job with several titles. Alpha Flight was his baby from X-Men #120 to their own series. It plain old sucked when he left the series. His X-Mens (sp?) were some of the best all time. The "new" Superman series was pretty good. His Avengers West Coast (except for the goofy name) was cool.

My favorite storylines:
Transformers "Bridge to Cybertron" (intro'd Blaster and others)
SW "The Wheel"
"New" Capt. America/U.S. Agent
Scourge villian killer
Mutant Massacre
Dark Knight Returns
Secret Wars I

Secret Wars II
Attantis Attacks (or whatever)
High Evolutionary

Ugh! I want to forget now!

10-21-2001, 02:07 AM
The Spider-Man/Kraven story was called Fearful Symmetry. It was one of my favorite Spider-Man stories. JM DeMatties' story combined with Mike Zeck's amazing art made this series an instant classic.

Does anyone remember the super-creepy story that ran through Web of Spider-Man written by Ann Nocenti? It was published in the late 80s and featured some truly scary cover art.

As for X-Men, my favorite artist for them has always been Alan Davis. I was super-stoked that he returned for a while, but I guess his style isn't as hip these days. Shame.:(

Bel-Cam Jos
10-21-2001, 06:55 PM
Originally posted by Wooooof
Does anyone remember the super-creepy story that ran through Web of Spider-Man written by Ann Nocenti? It was published in the late 80s and featured some truly scary cover art.
I belive that was the one where he was trapped in the insane asylum. It crossed over in WOSM #33, ASM #294, and SSM #134 (at least I think those were the issues).

10-21-2001, 07:37 PM
Originally posted by Eternal Padawan
Bigbarada, did you ever read Quasar? The guy writing that took it upon himself to wrap up tons of alternate universe stories in the Marvel Universe. He wrapped up the Squadron Supreme and brought them to our Earth. He made it known the what happened to Barry Allen (Buried Alien) after Crisis, and he went to the New Universe and brought back the StarBrand and accidentally gave it to his girlfriend in the Marvel universe. It was a pretty fun comic that didn't get a lot of attention.

Actually, I have heard of Quasar but never really knew what it was about. Sounds really interesting, EP, I might have to check it out. Thanks!:cool:

BTW, that Ann Nocenti story was called "What's the Matter with Mommy?" and it was truly creepy.

12-19-2001, 07:49 PM
I just found this thread and thought I'd bring it back to the light.

For a more recent criticism of the comic medium today, I have you look no further than Joe Quesada, the new EIC at Marvel. When I first heard he was taking over, I thought it was great. Then he started making changes, some good, some bad.

It seems as if he alone is trying to steer comics back to what they once were, while at the same time trying to make all of his industry friends and Kevin Smith-esque fanboys happy.

Like the new X-Force, although a good read, is basically Madman within the X-Universe. It has nothing to do with X-Force.

The "Ultimate" line. While I applaud them for trying something different, the effort would have been better suited if they actually tried to streamline the original titles the new "ultimate" titles are based off of. They haven't really drawn new readers to the industry, and I'd rather read about the Spider-man that I've known for the last 40 years, than some Elseworlds-esque bastardization of a classic character in modern times. (Don't get me started on Mark Millar, btw)

Not to mention the overall poor condition of the Industry. I can't remember when the last time a book actually shipped on schedule for more than 1 month in a row.

It has gotten better in the last 2 years, but not by much.

Rollo Tomassi
12-19-2001, 09:38 PM
Rereading the initial posts in this thread about "all art/no storyline" I find it kind of ironic because Post Image books from Marvel and DC that I ocassionally pick up and browse through seem to have really cartoony artwork that looks really sub standard to the stuff I remember reading in the 80's.

Does anybody else feel that way?

12-19-2001, 10:06 PM
I've noticed the same thing about the artwork in today's comics. However, I believe it is just the current fad. It should pass in a few years and hopefully we will see a revival of the late-70s early 80s style of comic art.

I think the biggest pitfall comics have fallen into today has been the failure to gain and hold on to new readers. They have only managed to maintain the interest of the ever diminishing comic collectors.

I think Joe Quesada has some good ideas; but he needs to let go of the past. What we really need is new blood. Where are the X-men and Spider-men of the new millenium? In other words, where are the new, completely original properties that will reshape and redefine the medium as those titles did in the 1960s?

Unfortunately, I believe that until that question is answered, comics will continue to languish in obscurity and mediocrity.

12-21-2001, 11:45 AM
The question of finding new readership has been one that has plagued comics for almost 20 years now. The big question in the last few years was, "will comics survive in the computerized world?" There was speculation that online comics or interactive computer comics were the answer or wave of the future. I am quite pleased to see that the nay-saying has passed and that comics are again trying to find their place in this modern world.

Part of the inherent problem is that of price. It is difficult to attract new (child) customers when comics display such a staggaring price tag. Sure, when I was a kid, comics were not "cheap" (at 30-35 cents each), but you could still buy a couple at the 7-11 with pocket change. Paper is the real stumbling block for comics. No paper, now matter how poor, is genuinly "cheap" any more. The old newsprint has given way to more substantial papers, but the bottom line is, the difference in price between making the comics with poor quality newsprint or higher quality standard paper used today is mere pennies per book, probably less than 5 cents at the retail level! So naturally the paper is better. The lack of color could bring costs down, but then it would also bring sales down. So there we are, stuck with books at a minimum of $1.00 each (probably higher, I don't know what the average is these days). So no matter how dynamic the character or how well they speak to the current or next generation of readers, comics have lost their price edge in this new economy.

But despite this, they seem to be thriving. Marvel has made some nice leaps and bounds (as I understand from a friend who still collects) and for the most part, many titles have found that rare marriage between good story and good art. Star Wars toys primarily, and some other toys like The Simpsons, have become my greatest consumers of disposable income these days, so a comic must come highly recommended for me to bother. Another concern for many adult collectors is the "instant trade paperback". That same comic collecting friend stopped buying the Batman titles because each new story arc was collected into trades almost immediatly after it ended. And the TP was cheaper than the component issues purchased as they were released! Like Hasbro finally waking up to the adult toy collector market, the comic companies need to put their ears to the ground and determine who is doing the buying and why, and make decisions that will ensure that comics enjoy another 100 years.

12-22-2001, 11:22 AM
Here's a question for you then, JediCole. What do you think it would take for comics to be brought back into the spotlight? Or how could aspiring comic artists or writers bring about a new golden age of comics?

I'm thinking the main thing we need is new blood. Not just with writers and artists, but completely new characters, storylines and situations. The super-hero genre has been all but completely drained of originality, so what could be next?

I'm hoping we might see a resurgance of fantasy based comics. That's at least what I hope to create if I ever get a chance to make my own comic.

12-22-2001, 12:04 PM
Ah...now we are talking about something of an interest of mine - comics! I don't know how many of you watch anime. What I think needs to happen with comic books is a huge study in character development in the mainstream comic arena. The reason anime works (some of it doesn't mind you) is because the artists and writers take there time. The reason comic books suffer dry stories is because these writers throw out the first things that comes to mind. I have been working for about seven years on my own story line and I can not tell you how many drafts I have gone through. Thats what the writing process is all about.

Like many of you on these forums I was extremely excited when Image first began. Then I realized that none of these stories were orignial they were rehashes of classics. For example Youngblood (Rob Liefeld's abortion) was a rip-off of X-men, Shadowhawk was a rip-off of Batman. Spawn was the only one that stood out from the pack. Initially the story was very bland. Until around the 10th issue when Mcfarlane enlisted the aid of Neil Gaiman to hone his writing skills. Neil Gaiman of course authored the Sandman (in my opinion the second best comic series of all - Watchmen being the first).

Most recently Witchblade promised to be a very interesting tale. But it fell into the same trap that Spawn fell into. Their own creators lost interest in it.

Here is what I have started doing since this inrush of butt-stink 30 page toilet paper has found its sorry way to the comic aisles. I look for titles by writers that I know tell an excellent story. A few of you mentioned "Watchmen" as a cult classic. Moore also writes two very well crafted comics that I read currently: Promethea, and Top 10. These are great comics with an excellent story first, and excellent art. My inspiration to my handle on these forums was Garth Ennis who wrote a couple story arcs in the Hellblazer series, and wrote "Preacher". Brian Azzarello(?) writes an operation mindcrime type series titled "100 bullets". My point is good comics are out there you just can't find them by looking in the places you are used to looking. By the way, Garth Ennis has a story in the latest "Star Wars Tales" titled "Trooper". Give it a read and see what you think. If you think that story has promise I recommend "Just a Pilgrim".


12-25-2001, 01:55 PM
One new thing that had promise and is still very interesting is the Crossgen company/comic line. The stories are pretty decent, and it's something new. I don't read all of them, but I pick a book up every once in a while, and so far, I've liked what I've seen.

It hasn't been the revolutionary movement the company was hoping for, but they are steadily growing.

I too watch a lot of anime and read a lot of manga, the problem is that by the time we get it translated and over here for sale, theres something even better out in Japan. I waited 2 and a half years to get Trigun (manga) in english, and we're just now going to get it. I think the Japanese companies should start producing more here in the states. In the last 3 years, the interest in anime and manga has skyrocketed, and I think they should start sending more our way sooner.

BTW, the best series out right now IMO, is Lone Wolf and Cub. It is by far the most original and well written series being published by one of the bigger companies right now. Even though the series is 20+ years old, we're just now getting the full, uncut story here in the states.

12-29-2001, 03:32 PM
I just returned from this mego-warehouse comic book store here in Vegas, and I must say, that if comics as an industry was completely gone in 5 years, I wouldn't be surprised. The pointless dribble that spews forth from the big 3 is drop dead ridiculous.

I just paid $3 for the new "'Nuff Said" Elektra issue, and I would've been better off throwing those $3 down a toilet. The book is 16 pages of story that has no dialogue (the premise) that consists of a story where Elektra breaks into MM's office and then fights a Ninja. That's it! At the end of book, we're treated to 8 pages of script for the book. Complete crap!

And don't get me started on the crap that's going on in the X books. Beast is now a cat-man. Prof. X is in a women's body. I have no idea where some of the core characters are! Dear lord...

The only beacon of light is DK2. The first issue was pretty damn good, and I expect only the best from Frank Miller.

I'm sorry, I just needed to vent. They wanted $20 for DD #127 (first "born again" book and the only FM DD I'm missing!) They also had the Ewok 2-Pack and 8-D8 for $30 a piece! Talk about scalping!

01-27-2002, 11:59 PM
Well, I for one do not collect comics as much as I use to. Mainly due to the high price. I remember when comics cost 85c to $1.00. It is a shame that the price of everything increases now a days, yet wages still seem to remain the same. Will anyone ever be able to afford what they want? I have since stopped collecting comics and focused on SW. It is easier to find, and in the long run, cheaper. Believe me, I used to collect too many different series.

I like the new artwork in a lot of the books, but the stories have been a little disappointing. Hopefully things will get better.