Posted: Jun 24 2011
by: BBT Clothing - ([email protected])

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The Bronze Age of DC Comics

The Amazing Spiderman
Not many people are that keen on the 70s. It was a dark, immoral and depressing time for many, though here at BBT Clothing, we’re actually quite fond of it. Many of our belts, buckles and DC T-shirt images come from the period. The period from 1970 to the mid 80s was a period of change for DC Comics as it wrestled to come to terms with society’s changing attitudes to every aspect of life. The 60s had seen the growth of liberalisation, and that carried over into the Bronze Age of Comics. Fantasy gave way to a darker and more-gritty naturalism. 

 Although the Comic Codes Authority had always tried to strictly enforce moral standards, it was forced to concede defeat after illegal drug use explicitly appeared in Marvel Comics ‘The Amazing Spider Man’ in early 1971. The CCA had no stomach for the fight and relaxed these strict rules. DC Comics responded with its own drug-fuelled story line in The Green Lantern, which depicted Speedy, the teen sidekick of superhero archer, Green arrow, as having become a heroine addict.

Marvel Comics were becoming increasingly popular, and sales soared. In response DC Comics increased its output in an attempt to win back the market by flooding it. New series were launched with characters like Firestorm, Shade and The Changing Man. In June 1978, 5 months before the release of the fist Superman movie, Jenette Kahn, DC’s editorial director, increased the number of titles and story pages and raised the price of the publication from 35 cents to 50. The period became known as the DC Explosion, but soon turned to an implosion as many of the newly released titles flopped. What’s worse, the financial situation deteriorated so much that many staff were laid off.

Kahn realised that the situation needed to be addressed and followed the example of independent comic company, Eclipse, taking the decision to pay future writers and artists on a royalty basis instead of the industry-standard work-for-hire agreement. DC also created what has since become an industry standard, the ‘limited series’ which allowed for the deliberate creation of finite storylines within a more flexible publishing format that could showcase creations without forcing the talent into unsustainable open-ended commitments.

These changes in policy shaped the future of the comic medium as a whole, and in the short term allowed DC to entice creators away from rival Marvel, and encourage stability on individual titles. In November 1980 DC launched the ongoing series, The New Teen Titans, by writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Pérez, two popular talents with a history of success. Their superhero-team comic, superficially similar to Marvel's ensemble series X-Men, but rooted in DC history, earned significant sales, in part due to the stability of the creative team, who both continued with the title for six full years. In addition, Wolfman and Pérez took advantage of the limited-series option to create a spin-off title, Tales of the New Teen Titans, to present origin-stories of their original characters without having to break the narrative flow of the main series or oblige them to double their work load with another ongoing title. These fundamental changes were applied right across the DC Universe and set the tone for the comic for the rest of the century.

So, look on the bright side. Forget the Glam Rock of the period and focus on Punk instead. The 70s did give us one or two good things after all. You can always purchase your own little piece of history by buying a DC belt buckle of the period or a fashionable Batman T-shirt. We’ve got something for everyone. Have a look at our website, or drop us an email. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t worry, we’ll get our hands on it for you. Go on, make Bruce Wayne proud: you know it makes sense.


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