Comic Storytelling in the 1980s

KC’s latest installment exploring the history of comic storytelling — previously, part one, part two — moves into the 1980s. Only the first half, though, because as you know, 1986 is the most significant year in modern comics ever, and that’s going to be covered a little later.

In this column, KC covers the invention of the graphic novel, the rise of independent comic publishers, key titles such as Elfquest, Cerebus, and Star*Reach, and the importance of Alan Moore. There’s also discussion of significant superhero titles of the period, including The Dark Phoenix Saga and the Titans relaunch, plus Marvel’s Epic experiment.

I love proofreading these columns, because I always learn things. In this case, it was the existence of The First Kingdom, which titles were the first Direct Market only comics, and most important, how Marvel got the miniseries wrong. This one covers a LOT of material, so take your time.

10 Responses to “Comic Storytelling in the 1980s”

  1. J. Torres Says:

    Really enjoying KC’s column. I’m teaching my first writing class at the end of the summer and will present a much shorter, simpler overview of comics history (focusing on periodicals) but plan to make these columns suggested further reading. I’m learning a lot of stuff too, Johanna!

  2. Johanna Says:

    Oh, I wish I could visit your class! I’m sure it will be terrific. Thanks so much for sharing that you enjoyed KC’s writing.

  3. KC Says:

    Thanks J! Now I wish they’d been a little more organized and a little less “off the top of my head.”

    Good luck with your class! I used to teach classes on comics also (a long time ago…).

  4. James Schee Says:

    (in a galaxy far, far away) LOL sorry just continuing off KC’s last line there.

    I’ve been enjoying these pieces into comic history as well. Its cool to see a perspective from someone who has been a part of just about the entire range of the comic industry. Since KC’s been part of the distribution, editorial/creative, business, retail and such.

    So its neat to see the perspective from a knowledgable, though not biased towards any one person. That The First Kingdom book sounds kind of cool, never heard of it though. Oh and I wish I could find some of those Dazzler issues for 25 cents!! lol (I read some off a website that was recently shut down, and they were fun)

  5. James A. Owen Says:

    Loving these. LOVING them, KC. And I completely agree with you about 1986 (my personal nirvana in comics, and the first year I was an exhibitor in San Diego!)

  6. Johanna Says:

    James 1, I was surprised to see a Dazzler cosplay at Heroes — I think she’s more fondly remembered than some suppose. I’ve never read any of the comics; perhaps I should.

    James 2, we had no idea then how great times were, did we?

  7. James Schee Says:

    Johanna they are so weird, as its like she’s a female Kevin Bacon in those stories. She goes up against some heavy hitters too! In the few issues I read before the site went down, she encountered The Enchantress, Doctor Doom and Galactus. And that was only in the first 5 issues!

  8. KC Fights Burnout and Keeps the Love Alive » Comics Worth Reading Says:

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  9. All Roads Lead to 1986 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] KC’s latest installment of his column series on the history of comic storytelling, he tackles the magic year of 1986, which was so important it got a column of its own. Find out […]

  10. ~chris Says:

    Big Dazzler fan here.

    I think a lot of people were put off by Dazzler’s “costume” and description as the “Disco Dazzler” (which I recall seeing only in a Bullpen Bulletins page, never in the comic). In truth, though she wore the silver jumpsuit & blue facepaint on most of the covers, she was in “civilian” attire in the interior art unless it was before/during/after a concert performance. And even if she did sing Disco, you can’t hear music in a paper comic book. :)

    When I first saw Dazzler in Amazing Spider-Man #203, I thought she was a lousy character (she was in concert attire the entire issue, and her mind was possessed by a villain’s so her personality was absent). Later, she appeared in Marvel Team-Up sans “costume,” and I saw her true character– someone with superpowers who wanted neither to be a superhero nor supervillain, but to live the life (as a singer) she always wanted, and someone with a good heart who helped others in trouble. I then semi-Byrne-stole a few issues of her solo series and ended up buying every issue… this led me to buying X-Men for several years starting with her appearance on the cover of #217.

    Unfortunately, Dazzler’s romantic storylines were often dreadful (Roman Nebokoh? Seriously?) and she became more of a superhero over the years, complete with standard superhero costume. I feel overall that she is a great character who deserved better from the writers/editors (with the exception of a few, especially Tom DeFalco).




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