Kenneth Hite (princeofcairo) wrote,
Kenneth Hite
princeofcairo

The Golden Age of Golden Ages

I can't imagine it being particularly controversial to maintain that we live in the true Golden Age of Comics right now. For one thing, the greatest writer in the medium's history -- Alan Moore, for those just joining us -- is still in his vigorous prime. Moore's career is probably, what with the desuetude of the space program, the most thrilling thing going on in the world today. It's like being alive as Shakespeare debuts Macbeth, not knowing that King Lear is coming next year.

For another thing, well, there's everything else from Spiegelman to Seth to Ellis to Morrison to Baker to Ware to Kovalic to stuff I don't even know about because there's too much first-rate material out there to keep track of. (I can barely keep track of all the first-rate material in roleplaying games, which is a much smaller art form in every sense, although one could argue that this is the Golden Micro-Age of RPGs, too.) The four-panel newspaper strip is still pretty dead, but one can't have everything -- James Whale aside, there wasn't much great horror film in the Golden Age of Hollywood, either. (And I suppose we should be grateful, on the newspaper comics front, that Bill Watterson didn't get stabbed in Deptford by the Earl of Essex' button-men.) For those who like guesses, I'd say this Golden Age of Comics will run until about 2012, give or take -- 30 years is about how long Golden Ages seem to go -- but who knows? The Italian Renaissance had at least two Golden Ages, depending on if you're a Botticelli man or a Titian man, and it sparked two Dutch Golden Ages in a row to boot.

And as Ben Schwartz points out in the New York Times, we also live in a Golden Age of reprinting the reason there's a previous contender to the title "Golden Age of Comics." Not even in the actual Age of Herriman, Eisner, and Kirby could you reliably acquire such good, complete runs of First Golden Age comics with such little effort, and as Timbuk3 once pointed out, "it's only getting better." I'm collecting the Krazy & Ignatz series, of course -- Herriman is the greatest writer-artist in comics history -- and Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon reprints and the Milton Caniff Steve Canyon reprints.

In superheroes, the horrific reverse-Turner mutilation that is black-and-white compilation aside, we've got the Marvel Masterworks and the DC Archive Editions, which latter include a complete run of The Spirit, which is the greatest single adventure comic ever, and which run I own just enough of in grossly inferior magazine editions to make repurchasing a quality version unjustifiable to the Austerity Gods. But triple -- quintuple -- my comics budget (please!) and I'd still be caught short by the incredible wave of reprinted greatness available.

So next time you, like me, curse the Fates that prevent you from being able to buy everything good at the comics store, remember to thank Auntie Clotho for letting there be a Golden Age there to drown in.
Tags: comics
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