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Comic Book Ages

Comic Book Ages

Mark Zaid (Owner of Esquire Comics) gives expert video advice on: Why do collectors refer to the specific era of a comic book?; What is the most sought after era of comic books? and more...

What is the 'Victorian Age' of comic books?

Collectors have established different age ranges for comics to sort of identify when they're from. These are ranges and categories that have no finite beginning or end that anyone will necessarily agree on, saying ones right or wrong. But historically we've looked upon the Victorian age as being the beginning, from whenever that is, of comic books, say the late 18th century to approximately the end of the 19th century. The late 1890s, or it could be 1880s, 1890s, into the beginning part of the 20s.

What is the 'Platinum Age' of comic books?

The Platinum age then extended from the Victorian age and is when comic books started to develop into what we understand now in the modern day of comics. So the platinum age of comic books would go from the beginning of the 20th century maybe, to the end of the late 19th century to approximately 1938.

What is the 'Golden Age' of comic books?

Now, the Golden Age of comic books has always been understood to start with Action Number 1, the creation of Superman. So were talking 1938, and then it extends to the end of World War II, the beginning of the Cold War, so it could be the 1946, 1949 era.

What is the 'Atom Age' of comic books?

The Atom Age of comic books then follows the Golden Age, as World War II generation transitions back here into the United States, and tastes are starting to change. They're starting to switch away from superheroes into more romance novels and science fiction, as the atomic bomb comes into play. And that age will last approximately, say, from the late 1940s, 46, 49, to about 1956.

What is the 'Silver Age' of comic books?

The Silver Age of comic books is when we transitioned back into superheroes. It started in 1956, in fact it started to most people with Showcase Number 4 which is when the DC Comics brought back The Flash, and many of these books at that time are when our Golden Age characters who have now been reinvented into a Silver Age variation. They're not the same character, they're just the same stylistic type of character and may bear the same name and sometimes some people have a dispute as to whether this is the first Silver Age comic book. For the most part this is what's accepted to be that fact. This brought back many collectors back into the fold of enjoying comic books and the Silver Age lasted until the end of the late 1960s, and the very beginning of the 1970s.

What is the 'Bronze Age' of comic books?

The Bronze Age of comic books is reflective of now. We've got the Watergate Generation, and the late 1960s and Woodstock. We've got darker characters, darker plots, and also very realistic artwork, where the individuals are more lifelike--at least to me. And this is from late 1960s--69, early 70s--71, 72--and then went into the early 1980s.

What is the 'modern' or 'Copper Age' of comic books?

The modern or copper age is the age that we're in now, until somebody creates a new age to say when this age ended. And this is starting out in the early 1980s. Here you see a transition very much in the graphic depiction of characters. It certainly becomes a lot more prurient, a lot more sexual, back into these different versions of now what we see in our own society. Each of these ages is very reflective of what each society in generation is going through. So you can imagine, knowing what we go through today, this is reflective in our comic books, even though they're designed for, say, the 8 year old to the 15 year old.

Why do collectors refer to the specific era of a comic book?

Specific eras are referred to by collectors to denote a type of comic that they may be collecting. I mean for one thing it's always easy to categorize something to be able to then promote it to someone saying 'Yes, I specialize in Golden Age comic books' or 'I specialize in the Bronze Age' or maybe 'I specialize in superheroes' or 'I specialize in animation'. These are just categories to help enable collectors to perhaps focus on the type of comic book that they might want. It's also reflective of history and society. I particularly enjoy Platinum and Golden Age books. Why? Because to me they reflect the culture of that day and I'm very interested in that history of that day. So, if you're interested in more of darker stories you're going to be interested in the Bronze age. If you are interested in more what was going on in the Cold War you might be interested in the Adam Age.

What is the most sought after era of comic books?

Collectors each have their own interests. I think historically most likely it would be safe to say the golden age which is referred to because it is the golden age of comics. These are the comic books that are worth the most for the most part, and are generating not only those who were buying them at the time, who now would be in their 70s 80s and up, but also the newer generations. This is when the characters of today where primarily created. Now, there maybe people who don't collect the golden age as maybe they can't afford it, or maybe it doesn't interest them as they like more modern books for whatever reason that might be, or they have a theme. But for the most part, that most sought after era I think would be, from the universal stand point, the golden age of comic books.