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Author Topic: Neverending Golden age.  (Read 3755 times)
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carmelo
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« on: March 23, 2007, 03:15:51 AM »

The questions are two.The first is what caused the end of the golden age of superheroes? Why in late 40s-early 50s hundred of charapters (some of which very populars) disappeared? And the second question is what if Golden age "crisis" had not been? Which direction would have Alan Scott-Green ,Lantern,Jay Garrick-Flash,Carter Hall-Hawkman,and the others all? Science fiction oriented stories? Weisenger style stories? (here some covers from early 50s)                                                                                                                                                                
« Last Edit: March 23, 2007, 03:23:25 AM by carmelo » Logged
crispy snax
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« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2007, 10:38:45 AM »

oh yay i get to answer this one!!!!

the reason why is because they got condemned, around that time a "psychologist" named something wertham wrote a book titled "seduction of the innocent" which proposed that the books were the root of juvinile deliquency. it also said that the comics (superhero ones mainly) had strong communist and homosexual undertones (wonderwoman and batman were accused of the second one, showing the old joke is anything but new). this lead to a major culling of superhero comics, except for the superman, superboy, batman and wonderwoman ones.. althoug there were a few other attempts at heroes it didnt really take off till the late fifties (i think horror comics were also culled due to rather graphic nature). they also installed the comics code, which back in the fifties was extremely suffocating, (which is why fifties superhero comics tend to be a tad bland)

thats why the fifties are mostly science fiction stories (and romance comics, mille the model carried marvel though that period) if seduction was never printed then i think that alot of the heroes would have died out anyway, as the golden age was sort of dieing out (fads only last so long ya know) and we would see more science fiction style heroes... if you look at the few heroes who made their appearance here (Captain Comet, Manhunter from Mars) and the fact that the big three (superman, batman, wonderwoman) where having increasingly sci fi comics at the time would show that was the new trend to go

hope that helps  Grin
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nightwing
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« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2007, 01:26:11 PM »

Well....that's not entirely accurate.

If you look at the dates, Green Lantern went out of publication with the May 1949 issue (GL having already surrendered the lead spot in his own book to Streak, the Wonder Dog! Shocked), the Flash packed in it in that same February (the "All-Flash" sister book having vanished in 1946), More Fun switched from heroes to gag strips in 1945, All-American transitioned to western strips in 1948, and so on.  Adventure managed to soldier on by becoming a de facto Superman Family title with Superboy in the lead, and the various second-tier heroes, having lost their own books, huddled together as the JSA until 1951 when All-Star Comics became All-Star Western.

And that's just DC.  Timely, having put all its eggs in the Axis-busting basket, essentially imploded when the war ended, with Captain America limping along as a crime/horror book until 1950, Sub-Mariner sunk in 1949 and The Human Torch burned out that same year (sparking to life for 3 more issues in 1954).

Dr. Wertham's book, "Seduction of the Innocent" and the resulting Senate hearings under Estes Kefauver didn't come along until 1954, so it's safe to say they were NOT the reason the Golden Age of Superheroes ended.  When they showed up, it was already over. Indeed, the whole anti-Comics hysteria came about because comics in the 50s had moved to horror and "True Crime" content in a desperate effort to reinvent themselves after the superhero craze fizzled out.

So what did end the Golden Age?  Reader apathy, mostly.  Books about cowboys, cops, funny animals, goofy teenagers and love-challenged heroines sold better than books about people in longjohns punching each other in the face.  The industry adapted.  Also television came along, and not too long after that paperback novels and other entertainments that ate into the comics audience.

The only characters to survive were DC's "Big Three," who had already become icons bigger than than their source material (and much more adaptable than, say, AirBoy or Hangman) and Fawcett's Marvel Family, which was never your stereotypical "superhero" fare anyway...it owed as much to Archie as Superman.

As for how the other DC heroes would have adapted had they survived, I think we saw the beginnings of that before they vanished.  They tried to add humor, or animal sidekicks, or whatever it took.  It didn't work, whereas the same gimmicks for Superman and Batman did work.  Then when the late 50s and 60s rolled around and the focus turned to science and technology, we got those characters reinvented in new forms.  I'm not at all sure they could have adapted nearly as well as they were "rebooted" (Alan Scott as Hal Jordan, Jay Garrick as Barry Allen, etc). 

The really amazing part to me, looking back, is that there were only seven years between Jay's last appearance in All-Star #57 and Barry's debut in Showcase #4.  So really only seven short years separate the Golden and Silver Ages, depending on how you look at it.  Seven years is nothing today.  Heck I think there are cross-over events that last that long.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2007, 01:28:12 PM by nightwing » Logged

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carmelo
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« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2007, 03:06:01 PM »

Well....that's not entirely accurate.

Dr. Wertham's book, "Seduction of the Innocent" and the resulting Senate hearings under Estes Kefauver didn't come along until 1954, so it's safe to say they were NOT the reason the Golden Age of Superheroes ended. So what did end the Golden Age?  Reader apathy, mostly.  Books about cowboys, cops, funny animals, goofy teenagers and love-challenged heroines sold better than books about people in longjohns punching each other in the face.  The industry adapted.  Also television came along, and not too long after that paperback novels and other entertainments that ate into the comics audience.
Yes,correct!  Smiley

Quote
The only characters to survive were DC's "Big Three," who had already become icons bigger than than their source material (and much more adaptable than, say, AirBoy or Hangman) and Fawcett's Marvel Family, which was never your stereotypical "superhero" fare anyway...it owed as much to Archie as Superman.
And i think that without legal trouble with DC,the "big red cheese" would be continued without interruction untill today like Superman,Batman,Wonder Woman (but many forget that also Green Arrow and Aquaman continued from golden age).I think that in 50s and early 60s the cartoon-Disneyan aspects of Capitan Marvel would be increases.In comparison  the Weisenger's Superman would have seemed written to Frank Miller. Cheesy

 
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So what did end the Golden Age?  Reader apathy, mostly.
Yes,but the question is why this apathy? and why editors not tried to inverted trend with changes and better stories ,like today when the sales come down? 

Quote
The really amazing part to me, looking back, is that there were only seven years between Jay's last appearance in All-Star #57 and Barry's debut in Showcase #4.  So really only seven short years separate the Golden and Silver Ages, depending on how you look at it.  Seven years is nothing today.  Heck I think there are cross-over events that last that long.
Yes! and the early 50s covers seems just show characters of the silver age! the stories are  more science fiction oriented.So maybe is possible understand the direction of these characters if were continued.

« Last Edit: March 23, 2007, 03:15:55 PM by carmelo » Logged
MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2007, 03:30:50 PM »

Nightwing gives a good account here, not enough people realize that "Seduction of the Innocent" mostly affected the crime and occult titles.

One thing, comics in the 40s were never meant to be anything like permanent and they didn't even have the luxury of long history or sentiment.  My mother was a fan of the Jay Garrick Flash and I asked her once about it and she couldn't recall a single story.  You read them and threw them out.  Even as an aduly, she constantly bugged me to throw out mine and my brother's 1960s comics and when we left the house, she DID throw them out.

And yeah, in the time that it took the Golden Age to rise and fall, DC could barely figure out who the post-Crisis Hawkman even was.
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nightwing
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« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2007, 06:21:15 PM »

carmelo writes:

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Yes,but the question is why this apathy? and why editors not tried to inverted trend with changes and better stories ,like today when the sales come down?

As to the latter question, I'm not so sure today's publishers try to correct lagging sales with "better stories." In fact, just the opposite in my experience.  What they DO try is anything they can think up to keep the superhero books alive, because that's where they've put all their eggs.  These days if superheroes fall, the industry falls.  Twas not ever thus.

In the 40s and 50s, publishers were a lot more willing to cut their losses and drop concepts that weren't selling.  Superman opened the floodgates to a deluge of "mystery men" but when they fell out of favor, publishers didn't go to great lengths to keep their imitation Supermen in business, they just looked for the next trend.  "Hopalong Cassidy's selling a million toy pistols? Get me a Western book!"  "Kids love 'Arche'? Get me the next Archie."  And so on. They were more flexible back then... "comics" meant pictures and word balloons, not any one genre...today "comics" means (to most of the world) superheroes, period. 

As to your first question, who can say why superheroes lost favor with readers?  Certainly overexposure could have had something to do with it; there was a literal glut of Superman wannabes in the 40s and though at first kids could not get enough, eventually it seems they did.  We also need to consider the issue of quality; for every Plastic Man or Captain Marvel, there were 50 or 60 characters that were just plain stupid, appearing in books that were badly written and drawn (I'm looking at you, Timely!)  Also the end of the war probably factored in.  The likes of Hitler and Hirohito were larger than life and imposing to most folks; Americans welcomed heroes who were just as much larger than life.  But with the Axis licked, what did we have left?  Con men, bank robbers and racketeers? Sorry, but Captain America versus Hitler = cool, Cap versus safecracker = Zzzzzz....

The big difference seems to be that in the 50s, editors were charged with selling books, regardless of content.  Today they seem charged with keeping certain properties in print, chiefly to keep copyrights active and make movie and toy deals possible.  Green Lantern doesn't sell in 1949?  Throw him out and give the book to a dog, problem solved. Green Lantern doesn't sell in 1993?  Turn him into a villain.  Doesn't work?  Kill him.  Doesn't work?  Bring him back.  And so on and so on...





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carmelo
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« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2007, 07:09:46 PM »

Then, another "golden age crisis" today could not happen? In Italy some of similiar is happened two times: in 1970 for DC charapters,and much more  serious in early 80s for DC and Marvel.Why? i think the generational change.The old readers became adults and  they were not replaced  from youngs.P:S: is strange the "selective" decline of superheroes.Ok for Atom or Hawkman,but Green lantern and Flash were big characters like Wonder Woman,and more that Green Arrow and Aquaman, that remained in sale.
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« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2007, 11:26:08 PM »

After the War, kids seem to stop caring about Superhero crime fighters, why I have no clear idea. Science Fiction pretty much took over for super adventures. Since Superman was an alien and had a sci-fi origin and he had gotten so powerful, that he was a perfect fit for sci-fi adventures! Plus, he had a very popular TV show in the 1950's, that helped kept him going more than anything.

Batman also began to have Sci-Fi adventures in his comic, which kept him going.

Now, I am not saying that Sci-Fi killed superheroes, but only that taste changed for whatever reason.


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