The Go-Go Checks have clearly risen to the occasion - their witty barrage of arguments clearly giving ample challenge to the question at hand.
They still have until end of day to make any further comments, but a reminder to Team A (shaxper, MDG, driver1980), your window for rebuttal begins tomorrow.
Will Team A make like the A-Team and go all "B. A. Baracus" over Team B, or will the Go-Go Checks cruise through the rebuttal round and "checkmate" their opponents? And will Supercat give the horrible puns a rest?
Well, there was sex, drugs, and rock n' roll. The team broke up, explored solo projects, wrote tell-all autobiographies, and is now back on the final leg of its reunion tour. So here we go:
This is a difficult rebuttal to write because, essentially, we agree. The bulk of the argument(s) made by the opposition are that '60s comics were neither as good nor as diverse as what came later on. Later comics are more mature and complex, much as an adult is more mature and complex than their younger teenage self. You'll get no debate from us on that point.
And yet, our core argument has gone mostly ignored by the opposition. Here it is again for those who missed it.
But, before we go on to lay out the remainder of the argument, let us ask you this: what would have become of the comic industry if there had never been a Marvel Age? If Fantastic Four #1 had never hit stands, and then Amazing Fantasy #15, and Avengers #4, and so on--if Jack, and Stan, and Steve, and Jim, and maybe even Wally hadn't started a revolution with their outside-of-the-box, entirely not-playing-it-safe approach that caused fans to wake up and demand more of their comics--how much longer could an industry dominated by licensed television drivel have survived?
If you want to argue the 1970s had better quality output that was more mature and evolved, we heartily agree, but that isn't the question being debated. It isn't a question of which decade had the best comics, but rather which decade was the best decade FOR comics. Clearly, the answer would be the decade that saved comics from going down the tube; the decade that paved the way for all the classics and creators that we enjoy and discuss here on a daily basis.
We therefore lay the burden on our opponents to prove that the 1960s was not the most important, essential decade to the development of comics since their inception, and that a comic industry that skipped the events of the 1960s would be just as quality as the comic industry we celebrate today.
One member of the opposition at least attempted to address this, laying out reasons why the 1960s was not as creative and innovative as it could have been, often rife with laziness and intellectual theft. That's certainly true, but it was still creative enough and innovative enough to be a game-changer. Was every single issue of Fantastic Four positively riveting? Of course not, but it was still drastically different from what had come before, with far more human protagonists that clearly had an impact upon readership that we still celebrate here today. In many ways, the 60s are still considered a high-water mark for comics, a time of easy creativity, movement and innovation. The time when, for the big two, the foundations were laid. When new concepts and characters were created monthly. The 60s cast a shadow over comics for the rest of the century, where artists and writers either tried to mimic the organic world-building of the Silver Age (e.g, Astro-City) or create a deliberate contrast to the innocence and idealism of that time (pretty much everything else). There is no debating that the course of comic book history changed decisively in the 1960s, away from what had always worked well enough and towards something bolder and more artistic. Sure, it didn't happen in every issue of every Marvel comic, nor did it happen all at once at DC, but the influence was there; the seeds were planted; and comics thrived in the decades that followed as a result. To say that later comics were more mature, more complex, in any way more evolved than they had been in that stagnent post-Wertham era is to validate this point. '60s comics shone the light, and later comics charged boldly down the illuminated path. There is no debate here.
Of course, there were also some novelties of that era that we do not enjoy in later decades. For example, the mass market: casual readers picking up comics, not having to make a conscious effort to seek out (and know about) a local comic store. Mass market distribution had many advantages, and not just in terms of accessibility. Mass market distribution also allowed more creative flexibility. Why not let Kraven show up in Daredevil, or have Weather Wizard show up in a Batman title? In the Modern Era, with everything tied up in crossovers and multi-part events, can the Spidey titles even spare Kraven? How can Kraven show up in a DD comic if he’s tied up tightly by editorial in a 6-issue Spidey arc for the year? How can Red Skull be spared to show up in an Iron Fist or X-Men comic when he’s tied into a 12-issue Captain America arc? In some ways, comics have returned to the editorial fiefdoms of earlier days.
On another track, we feel the opposition has neglected to acknowledge the underground comix movment, which provided a spirit and model for independent creators that fueled much of the real growth of comics (as art and in audience size) in the 80 and especially in the 2000s.
But, split hairs with any of these individual points if you will, the larger point remains: The 1960's began a revolution in comicdom, and that meant that later decades of comics were inevitably going to be better because of 1960's comics and the revolution they started. Once more, the debate is which decade was the best FOR comics, not which decade had the best comics. The 1960s saved the comic book industry from itself, and that inevitably makes this the Best Decade FOR comics.
Last Edit: Jun 15, 2022 14:30:36 GMT -5 by shaxper
Post by Prince Hal on Jun 17, 2022 22:20:20 GMT -5
Well, if we want to start dealing in hypotheticals, we might well ask what might have become of the comic book industry had there never been an Action 1 or Superman 1 or a Detective 27 or Batman 1 in the late 30s and early 40s or a Showcase 4 in the 50s. Heck, what if Jerry Siegel’s parents had never made it out of Lithuania?
Like nature, commerce abhors a vacuum; every vacuum created by the many “demises” of the comics industry have been filled by other creators and entrepreneurs. Let’s face it: the comic book industry has been killed, buried and revived more than any Marvel character with the exception of Pamela Hawley. Super-heroes faded after the Second World War and romance, Western, horror and crime comics filled the void; when Congress came after crime and horror, the super-heroes came back. (In Alan Moore’s Watchmen, it was pirate comics that came to the rescue.)
Any decade in which a company saw a niche to fill and filled it, even with a less-than-excellent product, would have qualified as the decade that saved comics from extinction, or at least the kinds of comics published by DC and Marvel.
We agree with your assertion that much of the licensed material was drivel, but nonetheless, like the many examples of drivel (licensed and original) in today’s market, much of that 60s drivel sold very well. In fact, it sold in greater numbers than the super-heroes, war comics, and other genres that DC and Marvel produced. Now if you want to argue that the 60s was the best decade for drivel, you won’t get much of an argument from the Go-Go Checks.
But for one particular decade – all ten years – to be recognized as the best decade for comics, one would hope that lovers of the art form would be drawn more to a 10-year period during which the comics in the “drivel” category were outsold by those in the “nectar of the gods” category. Granted, those two category titles are subjective to some extent. After all, there are those who would prefer reading a Rob Liefeld comic that others might consider drivel, and those who prefer reading a Moebius comic that a Liefeld fan might find unpalatable.
Stipulating that, however, we suggest that the consensus among readers, creators and critics on the difference between drivel and nectar would not be so skewed by individual predilections that they would be useless as a gauge of the quality of a particular decade’s worth of comics. In other words, the overwhelming majority of fans would concede that Irving Fass’s Captain Marvel or Dell’s Flying Saucers or Charlton’s Fightin’ Air Force do not belong in the nectar category. Thus we can say that most of what was published in the 60s was drivel. Or pap, if you’d prefer semi-solid sustenance. In any case, the sheer volume of sub-standard comics published in the 60s is yet another reason that the 60s was not the best decade for comics.
We accept and had already made your point that the earliest days of Marvel Comics were indeed revolutionary. However, that revolution only flickered; it never blazed. And it was quickly snuffed when the revolution had to eventually come to an end. (The history buffs here will remember that the real end of the American Revolution came in 1794 when former revolutionary George Washington sent in federal troops to end the Whiskey Rebellion and establish once and for all that a new order had been established.
The so-called 60s comics revolution ended when Marvel Comics succumbed to the safety and monotony of the creative inertia it had decried at DC and was only rekindled late in the decade with the arrival of a coterie of creators who had grown up as part of the generation of fans that had not given up on comics when they reached the age of 12. (I’m guessing your reference to “Jim” is to Steranko, but like Adams, O’Neil, Aparo, Windsor-Smith -- then simply Smith -- and others of their contemporaries, Steranko did not become a presence until late in the decade as well.)
Unlike many comics creators who had preceded them, these fans-turned-pros loved comics passionately. Still, that passionate love did not blind them to the many obvious flaws in the comics of the 60s. They sought to bring the depth of their passion and their artistic and literary skills to the books and characters they had read for so many years. It was they who saved the remnants of the Marvel Revolution and built upon the barest of foundations left after Marvel ceased seizing the moment and opted out of iconoclasty in favor of sameness.
Your wonderfully evocative image calling many of the 60s-inspired comics a “shadow” of the Silver Age buttresses our argument above, but it applies just as well to the early years of the Silver Age when Julius Schwartz and Gardner Fox pursued much the same goal. Along with such creators as Infantino, Kirby and Kubert, they built on the foundations of the Golden Age and stripped it of much of its childishness and simplicity when they revived characters like the Flash, Green Lantern, the Atom and Hawkman. Give them credit; they used the then popular interest in science and technology to make their origins and stories more sophisticated, at least by the “comic book science” standards of the time.
And you’re right, we did not mention the undergrounds and you’re also right that they did indeed contribute to the excitement of the 60s… within a small segment of the market. However, the problem is expressed succinctly in their name.
Even with the vagaries of the distribution process in the 60s, just about anyone anywhere could get his or her hands on a Superman or Batman comic. But outside of big cities like New York and San Francisco, underground comics were nigh impossible to find. Let’s face it, news dealers and candy stores in East Jabip or West Bumcrack weren’t going to carry those kinds of books, and they damn well wouldn’t have sold them to tots, tweens, or teens. Even if a hardy one of those merchants had tried to stock them, the fact that many undergrounds were not published regularly or were one-shots or had limited runs would have worked against their getting much shelf space outside a head shop or a big-city magazine stand.
They were important, without a doubt, but the undergrounds had a limited influence on mainstream comics or their readers. As you suggest, a revolution certainly can have a long-lasting effect, but the so-called revolution that opened the 60s petered out and rapidly evaporated; it was the loyal readers of Marvel and DC comics who became creators who remembered the possibilities of those first spasmodic moments of the 60s who actually created the revolution that did indeed transform comics, beginning in the late 60s, and not throughout the decade.
Sorry, but the 1960s were not the best decade for comics.
PS: Thanks, all, for the fun exercise!
"The rarer action is In virtue than in vengeance." -- The Tempest, 5.1
Seriously, well-argued stuff, my friend. It's been a great debate.
Want to also just interject my thanks to both of you and your team members who have made this such a compelling read for ALL of us. I wasn't sure initially how much interest there would be trying something like this, but both teams have made this a tremendous amount of fun and raised so many great considerations.
PH opened up the Go-Go Checks' rebuttal right on time, and it will stay open for any additional postings the team would like to make between now and end of day Monday.
And a reminder, voting will be open to the rest of the CCF starting on Tuesday and closing end of Wednesday...so stay tuned for the big finale!!
Post by MWGallaher2099 on Jun 19, 2022 9:55:13 GMT -5
And to briefly address a few of the opponents' specific points: And while I'm sure anyone reading can finish the argument for us, here are some of the key things the 1960s gave us that comicdom did not enjoy previously:
1. Higher quality art on a consistent basis across companies.
While companies such as Marvel and DC may indeed have maintained more consistent quality than they had in the previous decades, there were publishers before that time who imposed a line-wide standard of quality, most notably, I would argue, the aptly-named Quality Comics.
3. Beginning of recognition of comics by wider, more mature audience (especially older teens and college students).
Is the "beginning" of a phenomenon better than its fruition? (If so, then the Golden Age of superheroes is better than its 1960's refinement.) That more recent fruition, with comics as the foundation for adaptation to blockbuster entertainment, acknowledgment as a legitimate medium for serious literary expression by academia and critics, acceptance by conventional libraries and schools, has been of more practical consequence and benefit to comicdom than it was in the 60's, when "college students are reading them" was used, rather pathetically, to reduce the stigma of what was widely considered to be lowbrow, juvenile entertainment.
4. Transition of books over strips as most popular comics format
So the comic book lovers could crow that "their side was winning"? The newspaper strips continued to produce works of sophistication and complexity and maturity beyond what the comics stands typically offered: where would one find the 60's comic book competition or peers to Dick Tracy, Pogo, Li'l Abner, Peanuts?
6. New formats: Giants (incl Tower), B&W (Warren, Fass)
But in the 60's, these formats were primarily in service of improved profits, not to produce a better product. The giants were simply larger collections of the same stories available in the shorter format, rather than opportunities to tell longer, more complex stories. The black and white magazines served up the same kind of stories we had seen in the 1950's (and in Fass's case, literally the same stories), using the magazine format to elude the Comics Code.