Understanding the Comic Book Industry - Mania.com

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Understanding the Comic Book Industry

By Jason Chavis     -
Source: Don Markstein's Toonopedia


Understanding the comic book industry can be complicated from an outsider's perspective. The basic format is a magazine with artwork and dialog, usually in the form of word balloons. The industry has created a number of major properties that have transcended the medium, including Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, X-Men, Sin City and 300.


The modern comic book format was introduced in 1934. Famous Funnies followed a number of precursors that based their formats on the comic strip. Famous Funnies made use of the full page in a magazine format.


The United States comic book industry is one of the largest in the world with 2008 sales reaching $436.6 million. Japan's comics industry was approximately a $4.1 billion business in 2006, according to figures from the Anime News Network. The major producers in the U.S. are Marvel Entertainment and DC Comics, a subsidiary of Time Warner.

Time Frame

Comic book historians divide the history of the industry into four distinct eras: the Golden Age of the 1930s and 1940s, the Silver Age of the 1950s and 1960s, the Bronze Age of the 1970s and 1980s, and the Modern Age of the 1990s and early 21st century.

Government Regulation

In 1954, the Comics Code Authority was instituted by the government to approve of content after criticism by Fredric Wertham to the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency.


While most of the comics industry is dedicated to the superhero genre, the late 1960s saw the rise of independent and alternative comics. According to Diamond Comics Distributors, nearly 10 percent of the industry is dedicated to adult interests.


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