I’ve read and collected comics since 1966-67 when “Batman” and “The Green Hornet ” TV shows were first aired. Because I was much younger then, I enjoyed reading Silver Age comics, but I enjoyed them much more then than I do now. Most of my collection of almost 1,500 books and magazines is primarily made of up of Silver Age Batman, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Thor, Superman, Star Trek and other Gold Key TV series, X-Men and other superhero classics, but it also includes House of Mystery, Creepy, Vampirella and other horror fare. I’ve got about 100 Golden Age Batman, Superman, Worlds Finest, Green Hornet and other goodies packed away too.
For the most part, I read and collect the darker, grittier stories of all genres; particularly those that feature striking words and art work by Marv Wolfman, Frank Frazetta, Steve Englehart, Jack Kirby, Gene Colan, Pablo Marcos, Dennis O’Neil, Frank Robbins, Alfred Alcala, Neal Adams so and others.
I guess you could say the theme of my collection is something that Edgar Allan Poe would appreciate. Never cared much for the lighter fare, particularly those ridiculous sci-fi Batman, Detective and other DC stories of the late 1950s and 1960s.
I also find that I enjoy reading my Silver Age Marvels more than I do DC of the same period. Marvel comics of the 1960s were written with a more complex and realistic themes while DC was still stuck in the 1950s writing stories on a more juvenile level.
I thank Marvel for bringing more “realism” to comics with more adult themes and characterization and beginning a new era in comic writing that continues today. DC didn’t catch up to Marvel in that respect until maybe the late Silver and early Bronze eras as the move away the Comics Code Authority began to kick in.
Along came a flood of more sophisticated writing and art in all the main titles and new publications with more realistic punch such as Conan, Tomb of Dracula, House of Secrets, House of Mystery; Eerie, Vampirella, Creepy and other Warren magazines in the late 60s and early 70s.
Batman was no longer some camped-up clown in a bat costume telling bad jokes to a “Holy This and That” juvenile. He went back to his old day as an avenger of the night. May he always remain that way.
I’ve since sold a lot of my Silver Age DC and a few of my Golden Age books for one simple reason – I don’t like to read them. I’ve only kept about 300 or so of my Silver Age DC’s because of first appearances and other special stories, or those that have escalated significantly in price over the years. I’m almost at retirement age so, hey, I’m just being practical. But I really appreciate the more adult-level writing of today’s comics.
As far as the art, I can’t really say that’s much better now than it was before.
Some is, some isn’t.
But at least Wonder Woman actually looks like a woman now and not like the Flash like she does in some of my Justice League classics.
It’s always been the stories I’ve focus on more than the art when purchasing books and I do the same today. I’ll buy a good story with lackluster art before I’ll buy a book with fantastic art and a lackluster story.
The adult level of today’s writing and art, for the most part, is so much more satisfying to read. I’m sure Stan Lee, Carmine Infantino, Denny O’Neil and many other writers were restricted in what they could write because of CCA and the intended audience.
I believe comics today are, for the most part, better than they have ever been. I also like the way many of the Independent publishers have introduced something other than superhero fare for the reader to consider.
As a journalist, I do everything I can to promote comic writing and art to the public, particularly for youngsters. Heck, if it weren’t for comics, I seriously doubt I would have ever learned to read. Comics today can be a spark younger people may need to lead them to a lifetime of wonder and imagination in both words and art.