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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

History of American Comics

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October 02, 2019 | Jake Trotter | reporter

A TCC librarian and comic book historian began reading comics largely because his mother labeled them off limits.

Matthew Morrison, who has organized and curated a graphic novel section in the TR library, shared the history of American Comics with TR students Sept. 25.

He got into comics as a hobby as a young adult because as a kid his mother said that comics were “low literature” and he was not allowed to read them.

The first book he read was Green Lantern which became his favorite character. Morrison described his journey into comic books as a “weird path, but you never know how knowledge will come to you.”

“How do you become a comic book historian?” Morrison asks. “Call yourself one until they tell you that you can’t.”

Morrison broke down the several different ages of comic book history and said that each age in comic book history generally lasts 10-15 years.

”Comics evolved from just the “funnies,” he said. a nickname given to comic books from the first fully original book of comics “The Funnies.” This book started the Platinum Age of comics in 19__, according to Morrison.

The Platinum age would end in 19___ and the golden would begin with the creation of Superman, the first “superhero.”

The superhero would change comics forever and created a large boom in the comic industry, Morrison added.

The boom would lead to the creation of many different superheroes and companies. This age of comics was stymied by the creation of the Comics Code of Authority which was the strictest censorship guide in American history and it limited the industry severely, according to Morrison.

To combat the strict restrictions passed on to them DC comics revamped their hero “The Flash” as a more education-based hero.

The CCA would continue to limit production in the comic book industry until Marvel and Stan Lee released an issue of “Spiderman” in which the hero helps his best friend who was struggling with a drug and alcohol problem–a topic which was strictly prohibited by the CCA guidelines. The success of the book lead the CCA to change their guidelines.

Morrison transitioned into the “Dark Age” of comics which took place in the early 1990s where the industry hit a speed bump when companies prioritized “collectors” instead of “readers.” Although the name the “Dark Ages” has an obvious negative connotation, Morrison said that the “Dark Ages” lead the comic book industry to become more diverse, mainstream, and acceptable to older audiences.

The positives of the “Dark Ages” lead to what Morrison likes to call the “Renaissance,” where writers and artists combined strong writing with the over the top art styles of the 1990s to create a much stronger product and won back the “readers.”

The “Modern Age” or current age of Comics, has been fueled by a boom in online comic book sales.

Michael ___________, a comic book enthusiast and member of the audience, said that Morrison was “well versed in the history of comic books.”

When asked his current opinion on the state of comic books Morrison said “I think the comic industry is improving right now, there is a wide source of genres; a book anyone can enjoy.”

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