Are We Still in the Modern Age of Comics?

by Mike W

052521D-300x157 Are We Still in the Modern Age of Comics?The current comic age we are in is known as the “Modern Age”. We will dive into the specifics of the Modern Age and pose this one question- Isn’t it time for us to be entering a new comic age?

Know Your Age!

The revolution and history of comics are broken into time periods. Comic periods tend to based on different factors. Currently, comic ages are broken off into four primary time periods.

Golden Age:12613._SX1600_QL80_TTD_-205x300 Are We Still in the Modern Age of Comics?

The first period is known as the “Golden Age,” as it is identified as when comic books were first being published and it introduces your classic iconic superheroes such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Captain America.

This time period is estimated between the years 1938 to 1956.

268xNxamazing-fantasy-15-origin-and-first-appearance-spider-man-lg.jpg.pagespeed.ic_.YnFPJJh9CA-201x300 Are We Still in the Modern Age of Comics?Silver Age:

The “Silver Age” of comics came during the years 1956 to 1970.

It was considered a period where comics became a mainstream source of entertainment in America and introduced classic heroes such as Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four.

The Bronze Age:tumblr_m14tx87Z641r6h6xgo1_500-198x300-1 Are We Still in the Modern Age of Comics?

The “Bronze Age” of comics followed during the years 1970 to 1985.

This age introduced darker plots concerning real-life issues such as pollution, drugs, and poverty. In addition, it included the end of certain writers and artists who introduced the art of comics and ushered new writers with more unique storylines.

The Modern Age:

51ZUKCzIibL._SX319_BO1204203200_-193x300 Are We Still in the Modern Age of Comics?The “Modern Age” of comics is the current age we are in. The time period is spanning from 1985 to the present day. It is clearly the longest-running comic age to date.

Counting from 1985,  this age is 36 years old. No age that I have stated previously even went past 20 years. The “Golden Age” has the longest prior to the “Modern Age” at 18 years.

The “Modern Age” of comics is defined by many different elements. Elements such as the profit-oriented nature of comic book publishers, more unique and complete characters, and storylines.

Publishers and the writers associated would use their brand and popularity for more financial gains. The popularity of social media applications such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to name a few, are tools for artists and writers to gain exposure and use their work further for more proper gains.

Bronze’s Influence on ModernUncanny_X-Men_Vol_1_212-196x300 Are We Still in the Modern Age of Comics?

Some historians of comics think that some elements of the Bronze Age of comics influenced the elements of darker plots and characters into the Modern Age. Individuals such as John Byrne, Chris Claremont, and Frank Miller’s contributions during this time period are notable for this nuance.

Claremont’s run on the Uncanny X-Men series and his take on the characters of Wolverine and Sabertooth and his dark view of them would influence the brand for years to come. If anything, an anti-hero such as Wolverine would rise in popularity in comics and fans. That is another element that became popularized during the Modern Age.

Rise of the Independents

Walking-Dead-1-194x300 Are We Still in the Modern Age of Comics?Technology and openness during this current time period have led to the rise of independent publishers. Publishers such as Image Comics, Boom! Studios, Aftershock Comics, are a few to name as prime examples of this comic age. Certain popular comic figures are leaving mainstay comic publishers, such as DC Comics and Marvel Comics, and this has allowed individuals to express their creative control and ideas under independent publishers.

Currently, one way to make money for television networks and streaming platforms is to develop shows from comics. Specifically, shows are popping up left and right with plot material coming straight from independent comic books. For example, the AMC television network acquired the rights to develop a tv show off The Walking Dead comics. For many years, The Walking Dead was the highest viewed cable tv show and it really inspired the spread of shows from independent comics.

Are We Still in the Modern Comics Age?

Comic-Book-value-investing-300x157 Are We Still in the Modern Age of Comics?All in all, there are so many other factors that described the Modern Age of comics. I described a few nuances, but do we believe that the last current couple of years is still the Modern Age? 30+ years in a comic age is a bit too long and I would think at some point we need to draw a line. I personally feel that somewhere in the early 2000s is a good stopping point for the “Modern Age”.

The comic speculation market has been booming for a long period of time now. As such,  it has greatly influenced this current age. The effect of social media cannot be understated. It has really provided for financial gains for publishers as well as artists and writers. Well, time will tell what happens in the future. It appears we would need some type of “game-changing” event or book for us to move past the “Modern Age”. Tell me what you think!

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25 comments

Buckaroo19 May 26, 2021 - 9:18 am

Funny, I’ve been wondering this for a bit… The modern age cannot go forever. As for me and my amateurish perspective, it seems a new age began somewhere between Heath Ledger winning the Oscar for his portrayal of the Joker and Disney buying the Marvel Franchise. Or maybe it started when all the movies and t.v. shows began influencing the price of certain comics.

Whatever date is decided as the cut off, my bigger question will be what do you call the Eras? Does the “Modern Age” become something else, maybe a different metal like “Tin Age,” or something more malleable like “Aluminum Age”? Or do we continue time based descriptions for the next age perhaps, “Post Modern Neo Deconstructive Age”?

I would really like to sit on this meeting to watch the nerdy debate.

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Mike W May 28, 2021 - 6:22 pm

I think the Modern Age did start to mold into a different time and era for collectors and fans. Somewhere, in the 2000s, would be my guess.
I think one important detail is the importance of books, specifically, comics, which have influenced current and upcoming movies and shows.

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Jeffrey Simoneau May 26, 2021 - 12:26 pm

Agree. We do need a new age, and soon! It’s long overdue. Perhaps the Platinum Age?

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Mike W May 28, 2021 - 6:22 pm

Lol, why do we call it the Platinum Age?

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Elie Bejjany May 26, 2021 - 12:34 pm

Great article. I would think that the term modern age should imply in the case of current comics dating back 10-15 years. Comics from 1985-2000 or so might be classified as copper age ?

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Mike W May 28, 2021 - 6:24 pm

I am not sure. The Copper Age is supposedly defined during 1985 to early 1990s.
We are due for a new age, but what do you think is the most important detail that defines this age?

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Nathan May 26, 2021 - 12:53 pm

What about copper age? I usually consider this era to be around 1984 – 1991/1992. I base it on major events like ASM 252 or Secret Wars to the Death of Superman storyline or the Image/Valiant start. After that its Modern Age.

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Mike W May 28, 2021 - 6:25 pm

To me at least and in doing my research, it does not appear the majority of people recognize the Copper Age as a time span.
I am aware of the Copper Age, though, just not sure if everyone is.

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Lundon Clark May 26, 2021 - 2:07 pm

I agree, the “Modern” age should no longer be defined by today’s books. This should have ended in the early 2000’s and a new age should have been defined with the new generation of characters, teams and stories. Today’s collecting is heavily influenced by social media, television and film studios. Speculation and book values are at an all time high. Collector’s are looking for any and all reasons to demand top dollar for their books or reasons to consider them “rare”. This is definitely a seller’s market and not a buyer’s.

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Mike W May 28, 2021 - 6:26 pm

Lol, Good point; Shoud we call this period the Collectors or Speculation Age?

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Brian D Tidwell May 26, 2021 - 3:42 pm

I think you can do a much better job breaking this down.

GA= Action 1 to 1950 with the advent of horror and crime comics (EC)
Atomic Age = 1950 to the release of Showcase 4 (1956)
Silver age = Showcase 4 to release of Conan 1 (1970)
Bronze Age (1970) = Conan 1 to release of SW 1984
Modern Age (1984) = SW 1 to release of Walking Dead 1 (2010)
“Current Age” (2010) = WD 1 to ?

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Mike W May 28, 2021 - 6:27 pm

I stand corrected. You learn new things everyday as i was not aware of the “Atomic Age”.
Can you please define that age?
Any consideration for the Copper Age to be added?

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TD May 26, 2021 - 10:23 pm

We are still in the Modern age, we will always be in the modern age, I just don’t think it goes back to 1985.

The Copper (Dark) (Junk) age from 1986 – 1991 Dark Horse Comics opening up successful Independent Comics is my marker for this mini age, much like the Atomic Age. The end of this age was marked by Image Comics

The Brass (Image) age from 1992 to 2007 The beginning of this age is marked by Image Comics. Brass makes sense if you want to stick to the metals motif, also it was an Image title in 1996. The end of this age was marked with the begging of this age is marked by the launch of ComiXology, and Marvels online comics in 2007. Alternatively you can have Copper go from 1986 to 2007, but in 2007 there was a cosmic shift in Comics.

The Modern Age / Iron Age / Digital Age – Marked by the dawn of digital comics. To stick with the Metals motif Iron is chosen for the commercial success of Iron Man in the MCU in 2008.

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Mike W May 28, 2021 - 6:28 pm

I am surprised and intrigued that you have noted a Brass (Image) age for Comics. Image is a big independent publisher, but to name a comic period over the company is bold.

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Mark Oldroyd May 27, 2021 - 6:51 am

I think we are now in the “Post Modern” age of comics, the key feature of which is comics crossing multiple media formats.

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Marcus McCrary May 27, 2021 - 8:10 am

Hi Mike, Great blog about still being in the Modern Age, but should the new age be called? I suggest that we call it the Age of Independence.

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Mike W May 28, 2021 - 6:28 pm

Age of Independence due to the rise and influence of indie books?

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Scifinator May 28, 2021 - 5:13 am

Ummm, you left out the widely recognized “Copper Age” from 1984 – 1991. This would put the “Modern Age” at 20 years old starting in 1992 which would also coincides with the advent of Image.

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Mike W May 28, 2021 - 6:29 pm

My research did not widely accept the Copper Age as a comic period, though, I am aware of this period.
That is why it was not included.

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Scifinator May 28, 2021 - 3:01 pm

Looks like you left off the widely accepted Copper Age which ran from 1984 thru 1991. Coincidently, 1992 which would be the actual start of the most recent Modern Age coincided with the founding of Image.

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Mike W May 28, 2021 - 6:29 pm

My research did not widely accept the Copper Age as a comic period, though, I am aware of this period.
That is why it was not included.

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Redskydigger May 30, 2021 - 6:51 pm

In my opinion, the different ages are associated to world events. As a Canadian, I see the cut off for the modern age at September 2001. It was a major turning point in world politics and that coincided with darker story lines.

By the way, excellent thought provoking article!

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Mike W June 5, 2021 - 12:15 am

interesting points! If the modern age ended in 2001, what is the comic age after that?

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Brett Howard May 31, 2021 - 8:04 am

I feel the Copper Age should be defined as 1985 – 2000 or so to encompass the speculation boom with Modern starting when comics became excepted as broad entertainment – appealing to everyone. Could be the early X-Men movies, Iron Man 1 or Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.

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Mike W June 5, 2021 - 12:15 am

That makes sense! do you have a name for this current age?

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