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UAL Research Online

Defining The Marvel Age: A Pulse-Pounding Periodisation

Hibbett, Mark (2018) Defining The Marvel Age: A Pulse-Pounding Periodisation. In: The Ninth International Graphic Novel and Comics Conference, 27-29 June 2018, Bournemouth, United Kingdom.

Type of Research: Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item
Creators: Hibbett, Mark

For over fifty years comics fans have been trying to fit the history of superhero comics into ages, starting with the Golden and Silver Ages then progressing with increasing levels of disagreement into other suggested eras such as the Bronze, Dark, Iron, Platinum, and Modern. For almost as long, academics have been resisting this categorisation, claiming it is reductive, judgmental, and inaccurate. Such arguments can be levelled against all attempts at periodisation, in all academic fields, yet this does not and should not preclude their use, as long as their meaning is made clear.

The phrase 'The Marvel Age' was coined in 1963 - three years before the idea of a Golden and Silver Age was proposed - and has been widely used by the industry, fans, and academics ever since, but it has never been fully defined. Drawing on fan studies (Pustz, 2000; Jenkins, 2018), genre studies (Mittell 2004; McNair 2011), and theories of value and hierarchy in comics (Beaty & Woo, 2016), alongside recent histories of Marvel itself (Raphael & Spurgeon, 2004; Howe, 2013; Sacks et al, 2017), this paper will propose that 'The Marvel Age' should be used to refer to American Superhero comics published between 1961 and 1987. This was a time when the character-led, dynamically drawn, ironically humorous style of storytelling developed by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and others was the industry standard. Within 'The Marvel Age' there were also three distinct periods of Creation, Consolidation and Decline, delineated in large part by personalities in charge of Marvel's artistic direction.

By outlining these sub-periods and providing an explanation of its overall meaning it is hoped that the term 'The Marvel Age' can become a useful tool for academic analysis of this vital period in the history of American superhero comics.

Official Website: http://internationalgraphicnovelandcomicsconference.com/
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Central Saint Martins
Date: 27 June 2018
Event Location: Bournemouth, United Kingdom
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2019 15:10
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2019 15:10
Item ID: 13972
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/13972

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