If you grew up in the late ’80s or early ’90s, chances are you have fond memories of picking up comics from your neighborhood convenience store, supermarket, or drug store. The beautifully drawn newsprint treats captivated audiences and were prevalent everywhere, from news reports to t-shirts, cartoons, and specialty comic shops. This universal appeal brought back the excitement of comics that hadn’t been seen since the Golden Age.
However, as much as big events like X-Men #1 and The Death of Superman turned comics into cultural milestones, they also contributed to a market crash that nearly destroyed the industry. In recent years, we’ve had the opportunity to sit down with key players from the ’90s boom and crash to revisit one of the most turbulent and successful eras in comic book history. We also hoped to uncover lessons from the past that could prevent history from repeating itself. We are now excited to share their recollections here for the first time.
Comics were more than just a cultural phenomenon in the late ’80s and early ’90s – they were a part of pop culture. This was not solely due to the immense success of Batman ’89 and its groundbreaking marketing campaign. Comics were easily accessible and affordable, with a price of around $1, making superhero-focused titles consistently popular. Alongside the blockbuster movie, comics were thrust into the limelight.
Stan Lee, through his Stan’s Soapbox and Bullpen Bulletins columns in Marvel issues, created a legendary image of the fun, chaotic, and almost mythical Marvel bullpen. Iconic writer/artist Bob Layton, who found a home at Marvel during this era, reminisced about the fortunate timing of his entry into the industry. “My contemporaries and I were redefining the Marvel Universe for a new generation,” Layton shared. The creative work being done during this period was groundbreaking, with talented individuals like Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Walt Simonson, Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Doug Moench reshaping beloved characters and creating iconic storylines.
The excitement and profitability of comics in the ’80s were not solely driven by established creators. Newcomers like Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee were beginning to make their mark on the industry, forever changing its landscape. Layton referred to this as a “changing of the guard” and described the atmosphere of Marvel as a “fun place” where highly creative individuals worked side by side with their idols, all while trying to establish their own artistic paths.
In 1989, as Marvel was experiencing a renaissance, Valiant Comics was born. With just 10 employees working in a loft in Manhattan, Valiant began its journey. Created by Steve Massarsky and former Marvel EIC Jim Shooter, the company aimed to offer something different from the Big Two. Bob Layton, who had left Marvel to join Valiant, saw this as an opportunity to escape the monotony of the comic industry. Layton explained his decision by stating, “There is no retirement program or union for comic creators. You simply do the same job until your body fails or you get fed up with the low pay and long hours.” Layton saw Valiant as a chance to make a difference for the entire industry and his own career.
However, Layton quickly realized that Valiant was not living up to its potential. The decision to prioritize Nintendo and WWF licenses over their superhero line was a major setback, resulting in millions of dollars lost. Only when the company refocused on their Gold Key characters did they have a chance at survival. According to Layton, the real turning point for Valiant was when his friend Barry Windsor-Smith joined the team, lending his talents and credibility to the superhero line.
In 1991, Marvel experienced massive success with X-Men #1. Written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Jim Lee, the comic sold over 8 million copies and became the highest-selling comic book of all time. While it should have cemented Marvel’s position as leaders of the comic book boom, behind the scenes, a rebellion was brewing that would forever change the industry.
To fully understand what happened next, one must comprehend the work-for-hire contracts prevalent in Big Two comics. These contracts stipulate that any creations made under Marvel or DC belong to the publisher, and unless a significant amount of books are sold, creators rarely see substantial royalties. It was this revelation that led Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, and Jim…
Denial of responsibility! SamacharCentrl is an automatic aggregator of Global media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, and all materials to their authors. For any complaint, please reach us at – [email protected]. We will take necessary action within 24 hours.
Basant Kasayap is an entertainment aficionado who delves into the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry. From Hollywood to Bollywood to regional cinema, she offers readers an insider’s perspective on the world of movies, music, and pop culture.