The cultural and commercial feasibility of Post-Modern Comics

Introduction

Historically, the study of comics has not had great attention from scholars, giving fans of comics the opportunity to write that history themselves. In the process, according to Ursini (2020), the fans have developed an age system that depicts the historical evolution of comics in a way that they could understand, and the system has apparently become standardized. Hansen (2017) argued the age system creates and opportunity for researchers to acknowledge and appreciate the transformational aspects and key moments of the medium. Because successful comic books attracted numerous imitators, those key moments have given rise to a change in comic books’ content in the fullness of time (Markodimitrakis, 2020). In some cases, according to Ratto (2017), the changes have become immediately apparent, while in other cases, the changes have been gradual, taking several years to be noticed.

It was only until the 1970s and 1980s when comics began to become more serious and mature, that a few scholars began to monitor them in the same way that fans did in the 1960s. Even today, as Hansen (2017) points out, scholars are more interested in how comics relate to other forms of media such as film and television, than how they stand on their own. Moreover, Patrick (2019) pointed out that researchers with no links to films and media relate comics with other fields of studies, and this has given rise to books such as “comics as history” and “philosophy in comics.” Against this backdrop, Patrick (2019) argued that studying comics without relating it to other academic fields of study makes comic texts look like complicated pieces of cultures that inform the world around them.

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At their climax moments, comics were among the most popular forms of media in some countries such as the United States (Ratto, 2017). Comic books were read by nearly all, if not all children; as well as most US troops during the Second World War. Ursini (2020) noted that even though that popularity has significantly diminished in the 21st century, comic images are still deeply rooted in the western culture. The constant illumination of comics has depicted it as significant cultural material that continues to gain both cultural and commercial feasibility.

Whether comics have an academic credential or not, most scholarship evaluation of comic books are still conducted by its fans. The contribution by scholars who studied the genre when others could not, and the contribution of those who developed the age system for comic books have created a significant opportunity for themselves and others to discuss their passion for the genre. This should not be ignored by modern historians (Derbel, 2019). Therefore, this study heeds to this call be studying the postmodern comic books and how they have become both culturally and commercially feasible. The study’s central argument is that comics have transitioned from the Golden Age, through the Silver Age and the Modern Age to a Post-Modern age that is characterised with a variety of new characteristics and paradigm shifts. While the immediate former age (modern age) was majorly focused on the reader’s immersion, postmodern comics have largely focused on identification.

The comic ages

The age system highlights the historical evolution of comic books from the 1930s when they were an unrecognized form of genre to an award-winning and massive industry in the 1980s, 1990s, to date (Ratto, 2017). Ideally, the evolution has largely been incremental and have been determined by major historical events. For example, the September 11 attack signified the end of the Dark Age comics, whereby most stories told in comic books were those of violence and aggression (Ratto, 2017). According to Pagello (2017), the transition from Dark Age to the Aluminium age was characterised by a shift from violence to the adoption of literary stories that fitted the industry needs. The literary stories of the allminium age were characterised by a diversity approach to cast and characters (Bennatti, 2018). While a more mainstream attention to the comic industry brought about new challenges in the 1990s, the aluminium Age made several attempts to address these challenges by changing the artistic conventions and traditions of comics through a more diverse cast.

Ultimately, according to Hansen (2017), the aluminium age shaped the history of comic books by creating a contrast between the social commentary found in the comic books published in 2001 and those published during the Dark Age. Ursini (2020) insists that it is during the aluminium age that comic books began to be regarded as objects of trans-medial importance. Today, comics have long crossed the media boundaries having become a multi-billion-dollar industry by 2001. Since then, the popularity of comic book films has changed the stories produced by the book industry, changes which are the focus of this study as it explores the post-modern era of comic books.

Today, while the Dark Age and the Aluminium Age remain some of the memorable ages of the comic genre, with the Aluminium Age is popularly thought to have shaped the themes of post-modern age comics – from 2001 to date (Markodimitrakis, 2020). The comic writers’ reaction to the 2001 September 11 attacks led to several changes in how they conventionally narrated their stories moving forward. Coupled with the rise of comic book film industry (Pagello, 2017) and the debut of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, the changes represented a paradigm shift in comic books that warranted the creation of a new age (the Post-Modern Age).

While discussing the changes in comic books conventions that gave rise to the Post-Modern Age, this study will highlight the differences in the comics published during the Dark age and those published in the Post-Modern Age. As Hansen (2017) argues, the Post-Modern Age began in 2001 when the comic book industry was experiencing a paradigm shift. Consequently, the Post-Modern Age has largely been characterised by changes such as an increased focus on gender diversity, de-escalation of violence, the use of comics as transmedial objects and other relevant changes that are discussed in the subsequent sections.

Modernist vs post-modernist comics

A recent significant development among commentators and reviewers of comic books is the inability to distinguish between modern and post-modern comics. For example, while some reviewers have referred to Grant Morrison’s work and various other comics like him as post-modern, others claim that Morrison is a modern comic (Ratto, 2017). According to Pettitt (2019), it is understandable that comics such as Morrison can be termed as post-modern because it is clearly influenced by Burroughs, Borges and other early post-modernists. However, the problem is that modern literature has assigned many different meanings to the terms ‘post-modern’.

In most forms of arts commentary, post-modernism is a reaction to modernism, whereby reviewers re-appropriate the techniques and styles of pre-modern art but use them in more ironic manner (Gavaler, 2017). For example, the neoclassical period was proposed by Stravinsky where he retreated from his earlier advances and those of his contemporaries was post-modernist music, similar to, for example, Cruising With Ruben And The Jets by Frank Zapps (Murray, 2017).

On the other hand, postmodernists have tended to offer a direct continuation of the modernist views and ideas rather than react to it. For example, Gravity’s Rainbow is very much the same kind of thing as Ulysses, rather than something meant to oppose it (Stein, 2020). Similarly, the cut-up technique adopted by Burroughs resembles that of Tzara in the How to Write A Dadaist Poem episode. Therefore, there seems to be a continuation between modernist and post-modernist literature in terms of form and technique. Whereas, a comparison between a post-modern author such as Philip Glass with a modern author such as Edgard Varese reveals two people working on completely different approaches to the media. It is this technique (inherent in Morrison’s work) which people are considering to be post-modern. But comics like the Painting That Ate Paris and The Brotherhood of Dada are at least as much modernist than post-modernist concepts, while Brecht’s breaking of the fourth wall and acceptance that his work was fiction are some of things that were as much post-modernist (Gaspers, 2020).

Gibson (2019) pointed out that the reason why comic postmodernists are grouped together with postmodernist from other forms of arts, rather than modernist is that they share the same post-modern worldview. Ideally, as Nehrlich & Nowotny (2017) explained, postmodernism is a reaction to the enlightenment of values, arguing that human progress and rationality are illusions and that they led to the mayhem that dominated the history of mid-twentieth century. While accepting that the earlier eras must have been irrational, post-modernist explicitly or implicitly claimed that the notion of human perfectibility and rationality within the scientific worldview led to the rise of Slatin and Hitler, both whose administrations had claimed to be scientific and modern even though both had a primitive and dislike for real science.

A significantly evident attitude shared by most post-modernist comic book writers (e.g. Morrison) is that humanity serves to bridge the gap between the superman and the ape. Patrick (2019) argues that much of the reason why modern comic writers do a lot of superhero comics is that they consider superheroes as characters that can be used to signpost human’s destiny. They tend to believe in the future, in perfectibility and in the innate human good – all which postmodernists deny.

Post-Modern Comics and Gender Diversity

One of the major characteristics of Post-Modern comics books is increased focus on diversity. However, Pagello (2017) argues that the use of minority characters has been ongoing since the 1970s. That said, it is noticeable that the increased focus on diversity which came alongside the Dark and Bronze Ages of comic books were mainly focused on racial diversity while the Post-Modern Age introduced more diverse comics unique to traditional mainstream publishers (Bennatti, 2018). For instance, while NorthStar (produced by Marvel Comic) made history during the Dark age as the first openly gay superhero in mainstream comics in 1992, he did not have any sort of explicit romantic relationship with any character until 2008. A similar trend is observable in other comics, whereby no other gay superhero from both Marvel and DC had an explicit romantic relationship. In fact, Ursini (2020) acknowledges that Marvel Comics experienced a significant challenge with including queer characters in its comics and would not display any open same-sex kiss scenes until when Shatterstar & Richter were revealed to be in a gay relationship in 2009.

Bat woman, who is originally represented as the love fantasy for Batman in the Post-Modern Age comics, was depicted as a lesbian, who was no longer romantically attracted to Batman (Geoff, 2006). That said, Batwoman has generally been viewed as a good representation of the lesbian community, even though DC has generally avoided putting her in any long-lasting lesbian relationship. In fact, accounts by Hansen (2017) indicate that the creators of the comic book Batwoman comic left working with DC declined that she could not be married even after proposing to her long-term girlfriend. Nonetheless, the largest writers in the comic book industry tended to develop queer characters during the early 2000s but were never allowed to have those characters engage in queer activities or engage in long-term relationships in fear of irritating some readers (Bennatti, 2018). One, therefore, needed to turn to some unexpected sources for such queer characters.

In 1999, Warren Ellis created The Authority, which became one of the comics from the Dark Age series in the mainstream to come close to sexual diversity. For instance, Apollo and the Midnighter characters from the The Authority were unique among the gay characters in the mainstream during the Dark age because they were portrayed as married and had adopted a child together. While some would argue that NorthStar’s wedding to Kyle in the episode #51 of the 2012 Astonishing X-men represented the first gay marriage in mainstream comics, it is worth noting that Midnighter and Apollo had married in 2002, ten years before (Ratto, 2017). Nonetheless, the comic provides a significant representation of LQBTQ groups.

Midnighter and Apollo sustained their prominence into Wildstorm’s comic book after their wedding while this was not the case for Marvel Comic’s Kyle and Northstar’s (Stein, 2020). Nevertheless, even though queer characters have slowly been introduced into the mainstream comics as a result of the restrictions imposed by CCA, there has been a generally large acceptance and admittance of queer identities in the Post-modern age as evidenced by the industry’s huge support for Love is Love increased inclusion of other queer characters in mainstream comics.

Post-Modern Comics and De-escalation of violence

After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a fundamental shift in popular media occurred. As the world inevitable compared the attack to that of the Pearl Harbor, it would be normal to assume that mainstream media would be deeply involved in defending globally shared values. However, comic books took a different turn and only changed between the year 1994 and 2001. Comic books, once regarded as the perfect medium for disseminating propaganda, were now deeply engrained a morally realistic, nihilistic, and cynical subculture (Markodimitrakis, 2020). Ideally, as Pagello (2017) pointed out, comic book writers were forced by the 9/11 events to re-evaluate the industry’s place in the America’s culture. While some found it difficult to find any relevant stories to tell, others were eager to get a new moral dimension for the genre. For instance, one comic book writer, Jim Steranko, called for an end to the nihilism and cynicism that reigned the industry from the 1980s and the 1990s (Ratto, 2017).

By December 2001, ongoing mainstream comics put up storylines of the attacks, with episode #36 of Amazing Spiderman being the first mainstream comic to take it up. Its main emphasis was on hope and unity in the face of the attack while passing the message that even the superheroes were unable to stop the attacks, but they would be there to help. Generally, according to Straczyski (2001), the main message passed by comics at that time was that of hope and honour for those who had died in the attack.

Looking at the cultural feasibility of comics during the post-modern era, Hansen (2017) argued that any discussion that fails to acknowledge the cultural object for comics’ commodifying status will be futile because the post-modern era of capitalism presents a cultural commodification of everything. Moreover, the author further argues that the cultural commodification is, in fact, what makes culture what it is. According to Pagello (2017), post-modernism marks an intensification and change in the function of capitalism. Therefore, in order to effectively explore the current cultural theory of comic, it is first important to acknowledge that post-modernism has undergone a significant transformation.

Against this backdrop, the comics trend is more than just enjoying fame and making more money with the characters. Rather, both the current popularity and commodification of comics provide an opportunity to evaluate the genre and how they reflect on the intensification and mutations that have characterised the current social, economic and historical moment. Doing so, according to Ursini (2020), provides a better approach to discussion comics in a manner that does not obsessively focus on the textual feature of comics while reflecting on the current environment of capitalism in which comics are produced and consumed.

While evaluating the commodification and popularity of comics, Hansen (2017) argues that whereas comics are popular, they are just more than that. As with commodification, understanding the popularity of comics seems like the best approach for understanding the current comics boom within the post-modern context (Markodimitrakis, 2020). However, understanding why something becomes popular is something that pop culture scholars have not fully explored.

It is worth noting that the contrasting characteristics between different ages of comics represent a total paradigm shift. Pagello (2017) argues that while the Modern Age reader’s primary motive for investing in comic books, as assumed by publishers is watching the individual comic heroes as mere windows into the world of fantasy, Post-Modern Age comic heroes are not necessarily windows but mirrors that reflect a particular group of readers targeted by the publishers. According to Ursini (2020), this approach has purportedly presumed the millennial generation’s narcissism; that each millennial reader wants to story that reflect themselves. Therefore, whereas the Modern Age comics focus on immersion., Post-Modern Age comics largely focus on identification.

But both approaches are not wrong despite being substantively different. From a commercial perspective, the Modern Age’s target was on a core audience and expecting a significant investment from the same small segment of population by buying multiple issues daily (Ratto, 2017). Contrastingly, the Post-Modern age seems to be adopting the ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’, which where a larger population purchases fewer issues less frequently (Markodimitrakis, 2020). For example, only staunch fans of comic games have bought a Vita, everyone else, including the older generation bought a Wii; even though the older generation might not purchase a Wii Spots again.

Hansen (2017) writes that the term Post-Modern Age Comics is not merely a reference to the fact that it follows the Modern Age. Rather, comic creators have adopted some principles of the post-modernist movement philosophy and art for some of their characters in recent years. This extends to, for example, Morrison’s storyline in the 2011 Superman so the character engages in class war for the first time since Action Comic (Markodimitrakis, 2020). Similarly, Greg Pak’s Comic Work also continued with the activist theme which deliberately drew parallels with the Black Lives Matter Movement. In both cases, it is observable that the Superman character is being used to show solidarity with ad give voice to minority ethnic communities as well as those in the lower socio-economic class. Therefore, even despite being a character that does not diversity, the Superman character displays a first order and belief value of Postmodernism.

Any association with Pre-Modern and Modern values (e.g. Moral Realism) have actively been opposed. For example, Orson Scott Card, a science fiction novelist, was shunned from contributing the 2012 Adventures of Superman for his normative claims on sexuality (Stein, 2019). Contrary to previous years, today’s Supermen are engaging in never-ending fights for social justice and personal truth (Stein, 2019). It is therefore possible to extrapolate that it is too early to speculate what has become of the Post-Modern Age of comics. According to Pagello (2017), Post-Modern Age comics are not certainly cyclical as used to be in the past, whereby each age was recreational of the past age; rather, Post-Modern Age comics have a genuinely important element at play.

The Post-Modern Comic Fans

Recently, researchers have grown much interest in what the term ‘post-modern’ era in comics is. For instance, Pagello (2017) discussed the idea that comics have undergone a major shift just as they did from the Golden Age to the Silver Age; especially with regards to how comics are interpreted in culture. This shift has been characterised by a change from mythological storylines to a personalised approach where the characters reflect issues and traits that matter to the society (McQueen, 2020). While this change has not been received well by lovers of classic comics, there has been a lot of positive reactions from other groups of fans who are have never been interested in comics. As the characters increasingly becoming much dominant figures in the face of fans, it is becoming apparent that comics are no longer a niche subject for a specific group of people but rather, they are now part of a cultural zeitgeist, making the characters to become figures that help fans understand the world around them.

Similar remarks were made by Hansen (2017), who noted that to understand the extent to which comics have become symbolic of the world around us, it is important to understand what is meant by the phrase “comic book fan.” Because its definition, as well as the criteria for being a comic book fan has undergone a significant transformation. It is no longer special to like or be a fan an of comic books. The comic characters, including superheroes, are a inherent part of the public’s conscious and part of many parts of the media so much so that there is no difference between someone who strongly follows Iron Man and someone who just saw the latest Marvel release (Derbel, 2019). Both are just fans who enjoy the action but arguably, one is more devoted than the other.

This argument may not be received well by someone who has invested much of their time and money into comics book hobby, but this should no really affect them. As Munt & Richards (2020) argued, the joy of being a comic book fan emanates from the investment one is willing to make in it. Nonetheless, as Ursini (2020) pointed out, comic books have increased their focus on how they can project fans’ thoughts and feelings towards the characters rather than preserving the continuity of their plot lines. Whether one enjoys the histories and inter-connection of Johns or Morrison style epic, or just enjoys Marvel because it is relatable and fun, Sanil (2017) argues that liking one over the other does not make one less or more of a comic fan. Therefore, the term “comic book fan” has become more diverse to include divergent tastes and opinions.

Before further examining post-modern comics, it is important to evaluate the new forms of comic books and why they have increasingly gained popularity in the recent past. According to Munt & Richards (2020), the vast new variety of comic superheroes does not really come up as a corporate agenda but rather, the emerge as personal reflections of the comic book authors. For example, authors like David F. and G. Wilson develop characters that speak to them. As Collerton (2020) explained, such authors are fan who have had an opportunity to represent what they have gotten from comics and give back to the genre they love. Just as it has been happening in the past few generations of comic books (e.g the Smiths and Johns), it is the fans who have taken control of comic book writing lately. But the only major difference between the Post-Modern era and the previous generations is that more people are becoming fans, which has in turn led to more diversity among the fans. Now, more than ever, comic superheroes are more than just figures in the public domain. They give in to our own personal experiences and because they are in the mind of a larger group of population, the superheroes themselves are no beginning to reflect the lives of these new fans.

Someone who never found something in comic books to resonate with before can now find something to inspire them which will give them a reason to continue with the story in future (Cooley, 2019). While it is understandable why someone may not find a character, they like or relate with, the idea is that they do not have to relate or like any character. According to Munt & Richards (2020), comics have so many characters that out of the villains and heroes, one is bound to speak to a reader. Therefore, the addition of new characters into the post-modern comic books should not be viewed as a threat to the status quo because it is just a reflection of the increasing number of new comic fans - it shows that the genre is growing.

This leads to another trend that has recently appeared in the Post-Modern Age of comics that some fans are heavily criticising, which is the notion that Post -Modern comics are moving away from escapist fantasies to tackling real issues facing the society. According to de Rothwelle (2019), these discussions are usually tied to the previous ‘PC’ episodes because they involve issues of gender and race (e.g Spider-Man’s newest issue – Bendis). Interestingly though, this is not an all new experience but simply a return of one of the characteristics of the Bronze Age comics. It is still fresh in the mind, the problems faced by Adams and O’Neil’s Green Arrow/Green Lantern when they had to address all sorts of issues including drug abuse, gang violence and other types of crimes.

One of the issues for many people with the Post-Modern comics is that they seem to reflect on societal issues such as race and LGBT rights and some readers argue that this is unnecessarily uncomfortable for them (Fuhrer, 2020). However, this is again a reflection of new writers and readers who want to reflect, through comics, issues that affect them. That said, a real hostile position is taken by people who feel they are exposed to ‘forced’ ideas as such ideas do not affect them, but as has been highlighted, they do not own the comics anymore. Comics are just a platform through which people understand each other (Markodimitrakis, 2020).

While it can be challenging to understand and visualise the number of issues and ideologies surrounding the global environment, having those issues and ideologies pop up once in a while through a platform we understand and have already contextualized – comic books, is a great way to make people aware of the issues around them (Stein, 2019). Barone’s (2019) remarks added to this point by stating that the post-modern era of comics is a good platform for sharing important pieces of pop culture. Therefore, if comics are a form of art, then they cannot be separated from the important issues in the culture from which they come.

A typical example that is probably appealing to traditional comic fans is already evident in the impact of fan culture on the emergence of superhero properties. For instance, developing a movie like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, having fans complain about it and then later come up with another controversial version: Deadpool based on fans’ approval shows how fans can strongly influence comics. The fact that such comics have achieved great success further proves this.

However, Pruteanu (2020) notes that there is a difference between fan entitlement and fan input. Complaining on a comic book’s Facebook page or website about how trashy modern comics are or whining about the newest film without doing anything is unnecessary. Instead, according to Cohn et al (2017), this only carries on the stereotyping that comic book fans are whiny and insular. While such sentiments may seem hypocritical after giving the Deadpool example but to some commentators such as Rocher et al (2020), there is a difference between a fan who creatively uses the platforms and a salty one.

A plethora of authors and commentators have written about why comic books are important to the society, with fans finding new ways of turning the criticisms into something positive. Those who are inspired enough have gone a head to write their own comic books, continuing with the activity of shaping and shifting the comic landscape (Bennatti, 2018). That said, the future of comic books is really on the fans’ hands, only that the definition of ‘fan’ has broadened to a larger demographic. Comics create a great sense of unity by helping to build consensus and bridges among people by helping them understand each other (Bikowski, 2020).

The commercial feasibility of Comics as trans-medial objects

In the world of entertainment, it is not new to adapt a mass media from one form to the other, and comics books have always been well-suited for adoption into different forms. For example, Superman first appeared in 1938 and 1939 and its stories were already being used as syndicated comic strips in daily newspapers across many countries (Patrick, 2019). This syndication continued until 1966, despite the reduced popularity of superhero comics following World War Two (De Dauw, 2017). Cocca, (2020) observed that by 1950, 12 years after the introduction, Superman appeared on a national radio broadcast (1940-1951), Max Fleischer cartoon series and in two films by Columbia Pictures. Even though Superman was not the first comic story to move from book pages into big screens, it demonstrated the ease with which comic books could be licensed (140). Comic books are more pictorial, and this makes it easier for the characters to be copyrighted – appealing to both corporations and licensers. Furthermore, according to Francis (2020), the characters in post-modern comic books are not as abstract as those in novels and other genres and therefore it is easier to defend copyright infringement lawsuits (Tomabechi, 2020).

While the adaptation of comic books by other forms of media was common in the late 20th century, the number of adaptations has significantly increased in the 21st century (Stein, 2020). Beginning with 2001 release of X-Men, comic book films have gone from a risky and unimpressive investment to an almost guaranteed blockbuster. According to Marazi (2018), the reason for the shift from comic books to blockbuster comic movies include the improvement of CGI technology as well as the cultural need for simple storylines of good overcoming bad – especially after terrible events such as the 911 attacks.

Since then, other trends in the films industry have contributed to increased popularity of comic book films among international audiences including the growth of African-made films as well as the increased interest of Hollywood producers for pre-branded franchises that could guarantee audiences before even the making of the film (Derbel, 2019). Because of the desire for characters that the audiences knew even before the movie production, superhero comics represented an opportunity to save the comic book industry that was a t that time struggling – by orienting them into intellectual property rather than physical products. According to Collerton (2020), comic writers’ immaterial possession of stories and characters had become the most important currency of the comic business.

Ratto (2017) asserted that the increased popularity of comic movies is partly attributable to the cultural trauma surrounding terrible events such as the September 11 attack, even though the movies that marked the boom of comic movies (e.g. Spider-Man and X-men) in television screens were far into production even before the 9/11 attacks. Moreover, as Ursini (2020) pointed out, some comic movies such as the V of Vendetta were undoubtedly a reaction to the 9/11 attacks, even though Pagello (2017) also acknowledged that the book missed out on its moral clarity, especially during the polarised atmosphere post 9/11.

Regardless of why comic books have become widely adopted into other forms of media such as television, modern comic books have adopted two major sides. One side, which is the most popular side, is designed to be more appealing to the public, and it is in this form that comic books have remained the mass media industry’s product. The other side, which is the esoteric side, only appeals to a small audience, a demographic so narrow that the comic book industry has increasingly faced significant threat (Ratto, 2017). Nonetheless, according to Pruteanu (2020), the ease with which comic book characters and stories can be adapted to fit in other forms of media has secured the status of comic books as transmedia objects and while providing enough source of income when the book sales were too little to sustain the industry. While only 20 comic movies were produced between 1950 and 1990, none of which were successful in box office, the period between 2000 and 2020 saw the emergence of 52 films, majority of them gaining a blockbuster status (Derbel, 2019).

According to Pagello (2017), the money acquired through this new generation of comic book movie not only encouraged authors to write more books that could easily be adaptable to big screens but also drew more attention to an industry that was previously considered insular. Thus, as Pruteanu (2020) pointed out, comics may have been useful for trans-medial purposes since their debut in the 1930s, but it was only later in the aluminium and post-modern age that the comic book industry and Hollywood realised their potential in blockbuster movies.

The emphasis on profitability that become more prevalent in the Dark Age comics have continued in the Post-Modern Age. According to Munt & Richards (2020), this occurred especially due to the increased focus of companies on nostalgia to attract long-term fans, as well as the availability of a few iconic series that emerged during the 1990s and 1980s, all which have been recycled to attract the fans. One of the most recent examples of a recycled story plot is the Doomsday Clock’s (DC) 12-issue series, which is a continuation of Alan Moore’s Watchmen (ddd). DC’s attempt to recycle Watchmen saw the bringing in of characters meant for single series into the main plot line to recycle the characters and use them in a new setting (Ratto, 2017). Typically, according to (149), all the issues of Doomsday Clock resembled Watchmen’s popular 9-panel grid layout – printed on lower quality paper than other current comics to mimic the feel of original issue.

Ideally, recycling means creating something new from something old. Therefore, while DC managed to increase their profits through by republishing Watchmen, Doomsday Clock exemplified the recycling of popular culture. But according to Pagello (2017), Doomsday Clock was not the first play that DC published to mimic Watchmen’s icons. A series of comics were published in 2012 before Watchmen that were meant to be a prequel to Alan Moore’s comic work. Each of DC’s characters represented a single character from Watchmen’s original series, with each of them given more complete back stories.

In some cases, the recycling comes out as overt, while in other instances of recycling in the Post-modern age appear to be more subtle. For example, according to Ursini (2020), the Marvel comic has displayed much less obvious recycling that the DC comics. However, in 2015, Marvel comics published a fourth episode called Secret Wars, quickly followed by Secret Wars II in the same year. Noteworthy though, this sequel did not attract fanatism compared to the original version and largely faded into obscurity (Derbel, 2019). The other story that had the tittle ‘secret Wars emerge din 1988 and appeared only in two series of Fantastic Four Series (151).

Instead of being used as a marketing strategy just as the original Secret Wars, 2015’s version of Secret Wars was more fulfilling and better planned than the original one, at least arguably. however, Pruteanu (2020) observed that the most recent Secret Wars significantly differs from the original one even though the use of a location known as Battelworld as well as the use of same tittles clearly reveals that Marvel’s intention was to take advantage of the little similarities the two to increase sales by evoking nostalgia the older fanatics (Derbel, 2019).

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The emergence of graphic novels has also marked the begging of postmodern comic books’ popularity, including comics that addressed both non-fiction and fiction, memoirs and novels as well as graphic essays (Ratto, 2017). according to Pagello (2017), it also corresponds with the postmodern trend of mixing popular culture with high art. Thus, graphic novels are considered a format of comic books that has rapidly grown during the post-modern era. According to Collerton (2020), the increasing popularity of during the 1990s was partly as a result of the postmodern interest in the interaction between visual and verbal elements of comics.

As readers read comic books, their brains are bombarded with dialogic texts and author’s notes. Regarding comics’ visual aspects, the reader has the choice to fixate their eyes on the picture illustrations, either on a specific detail of the picture or the picture (Derbel, 2019). However, when gazing the panel, readers of comic novels must either focus on the image or the texts. Therefore, from a fully postmodern perspective, comic book reading is a slowed-down and non-linear experience that is much different from reading the text from a conventional novel. According to Munt & Richards (2020), comic readers must gaze through the whole page, giving them more freedom to be creative in interpreting the text. Similarly, according to Ursini (2020), the creative novel author has the freedom to develop their reality through the panel, and can choose to use any stylistic device that speaks the reality of what they are trying to express – which is exactly what post-modern fiction also tries to do.

In conclusion, the age system of comic books was mistakenly created by a publication and before comic book fans could have a clear sense of the trends within the comic book industry, most of the discussions between them was conducted on fun pages of science fiction publications. However, today, comic book fans are more connected and have developed a clear sense of trends within the comic book industry, leading to the conceptualization of different ages including the Post-Modern Age of comic books.

In the post-modern era, comic books have transformed from advertising opportunities to a massive form of media located within a massive entertainment industry. The ability of comic boom stories and characters to transform from one media to another has created a new type of comic book industry that are adaptable to various forms of media. As a result of the popularity of stories from other ages, most storylines have been recycled, making some commentators rename the post-modern age as the ‘aluminium’ age. But the storylines from other ages such as the Dark Age have not left the scene because some of the stories consider as iconic have been transitioned into movies for purposes of attracting old fans. While there has also been a declining trend of sensationalism, the increasing number of books that rely on nostalgia to impress its fan base indicate that the use of sensationalism is far from over.

While the trends and themes of previous ages continue to be recycled and produced in the Post-Modern Age, certain changes to the genre, including the addition of characters from the minority groups, and the use of innovative narrative techniques has contributed to a shift from a realist approach to a revisionist approaches to narration, with most authors drawing inspiration from other sources. Ideally, what began as a resistance of violence from the 9/11 attacks and similar events (during the Dark Age) have evolved into a dominant mode of telling stories in the Post-Modern Age.

In addition to the trans-medial role of comics, the difference between the Dark Age and the Post-Modern Age has significantly increased, revealing that probably a thought for a new age should be on course. Nonetheless, these differences have made comic books published during the Dark age different from those in the Post-Modern Age. Therefore, the question is not whether comic books’ age system is usable, but rather, the question is how often the age system should be updated. Comics published during the Post-Modern Age used new fashion of storytelling by addressing pertinent to the 21st century. Moreover, Post-Modern comic books tend to use characters who can be transformed, resurrected, and reconstructed to suit the storyline.

As a standalone form of literature, comics can now be used to study a society’s culture and their themes, which influence and are influenced by the society’s culture can be used to analyse and make sense of the society. that said, the Post-Modern Age of comics are characterised by recycled storylines that refer to previous events and issues, as well as a generally reduced episodes of violence. More importantly, post-modern comics have been used to address LGBT and ethnic minority issues that face the modern society.

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