The Other 1980s: Reframing Comics' Crucial Decade
Fans and scholars have long regarded the 1980s as a significant turning point in the history of comics in the United States, but most critical discussions of the period still focus on books from prominent creators such as Frank Miller, Alan Moore, and Art Spiegelman, eclipsing the work of others who also played a key role in shaping comics as we know them today. The Other 1980s offers a more complicated and multivalent picture of this robust era of ambitious comics publishing.The twenty essays in The Other 1980s illuminate many works hailed as innovative in their day that have nonetheless fallen from critical view, partly because they challenge the contours of conventional comics studies scholarship: open-ended serials that eschew the graphic-novel format beloved by literature departments; sprawling superhero narratives with no connection to corporate universes; offbeat and abandoned experiments by major publishers, including Marvel and DC; idiosyncratic and experimental independent comics; unusual genre exercises filtered through deeply personal sensibilities; and oft-neglected offshoots of the classic "underground" comics movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The collection also offers original examinations of the ways in which the fans and critics of the day engaged with creators and publishers, establishing the groundwork for much of the contemporary critical and academic discourse on comics. By uncovering creators and works long ignored by scholars, The Other 1980s revises standard histories of this major period and offers a more nuanced understanding of the context from which the iconic comics of the 1980s emerged.
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About the Author
Brannon Costello is the James F. Cassidy Professor of English at Louisiana State University. His books include Neon Visions: The Comics of Howard Chaykin and the coedited volume Comics and the U.S. South.Brian Cremins is professor of English at Harper College and the author of Captain Marvel and the Art of Nostalgia. He serves as an associate editor for INKS: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society.
The Other 1980s evokes the vibrancy of 'comics' crucial decade, ' while also critically considering its limitations. Diverse yet focused, loving yet rigorous, this superbly edited collection is indispensable.--Charles Hatfield, author of "Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature and Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby"
The 1980s saw thrilling action taking place on the pages of American comic books. Developments in retail, exposure to overseas comics, and a robust economy briefly gave the illusion of a level playing field, where independent publishers shared shelf space with Marvel and DC, giving bold voices a platform, and inspiring innovation at every level of the industry. The Other 1980s celebrates stars and also-rans of indie comics, renegade innovators pushing the mainstream's boundaries, and a few notable turtles, horses, and elves. Costello and Cremins are the ideal scholars to curate this collection, both unashamed to show fan-nish enthusiasm, while never brushing away the era's blind spots and terrible takes concerning issues of race, gender, sexuality, and toy tie-ins. This book will make you take a serious look at the abjectly ridiculous, will send you on deep dives into quarter bins (trade reprints omit letters columns, ads, and paper dolls. . . .the best parts), and will become uncollectibly dog-eared after multiple re-readings. It is the first academic collection I've read that made me wish the essays were longer.--Jake Austen, editor of "Roctober Comics and Music"
In The Other 1980s: Reframing Comics' Crucial Decade, editors Brian Cremins and Brannon Costello have drawn together a myriad of brilliant scholars to provide a gold mine of careful and contextualized reflections on under-studied comics of the 1980s. In each chapter, these scholars shine a light on comics that have been overshadowed by the endless return to a handful of examples from that era--Maus, The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen--that for too long have served as a narrow stand-in for everything going on in the field during that decade and making their case for why these overlooked comics deserve to be studied. From examining the work of lesser known comics writers like Doug Moench, whose comics spanned the gap between the 70s and 80s, to exploring the indie boom that put publishers like Comico and Eclipse on the map (if temporarily), to licensed comics based on toy lines and their role in shared universes, to the conservative resonances of The Comics Journal's infamously irascible take on mainstream comics, and more, The Other 1980s widens the lens to reveal a fecund period in comics that is only now getting more than a scratch on the surface.--Osvaldo Oyola, editor of "The Middles Spaces"