While the industry of comic books has been given a big breath of fresh air in the last six or seven years that in no small part to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, twenty years ago, the industry exploded, or rather imploded due to a insane speculative bubble which saw hundred, even thousands of comic books and issues of certian books in multiple “variant” or “collectors”
covers, many smaller publishers seemed to pop up from nowhre, hoping to cash in on the collectability craze, The comic book industry soaked it up. Numerous marketing tactics designed expressly to appeal to this collector’s market began to appear. Some of the most common were:
Series being relaunched with new #1 issues.
Issues printed with multiple variant covers so that completists would buy multiple copies of a single issue.
Issues sold pre-bagged in plastic, so that one could either read the comic or keep it pristine (or to encourage buying one copy to read and one copy to keep pristine).
Trading cards and holofoil covers appearing whenever the editor thought a series needed a sales boost (indeed, the latter gimmick was so common that some refer to the Dark Age as the Chrome Age).
Massive Retooling of comic series and “shake-up” storylines to generate more publicity for “gimmick” issues. In particular, the 1992 Death of Superman storyline sparked a massive rise in comic book speculators due to its high level of mainstream publicity, and alienated many when the con was revealed. When the bubble finally burst and the bottom fell out from the ledge on which it had so precariously been sitting on Marvel actually went into bankruptcy 1997, sounds so crazy now, given that Marvel has just recently reported making over nearly 8 billion dollars from the MCU since Iron Man less than a decade now.
To help celebrate this, AMC Networks is planning a ‘history of comic books’ documentary miniseries that is tentatively titled Heroes and Villains: The History of Comic Books.
Slated to premiere in 2017, Heroes and Villains will take a behind-the-scenes look at the comic industry and explore the people, places, and events that helped the industry to grow into what we know today. The series will tell the origins and secret histories of characters that are still popular today, and will explore a number of topics including how comics evolved as a part of pop culture and how the medium has handled politics, race, gender and sexuality over the years.