Sunday, July 4, 2021

The Other 1980s: Reframing Comics' Crucial Decade edited by Brannon Costello & Brian Cremins

 (LSU Press, 2021) The 1980s saw thrilling action taking place on the pages of American comic books. Developments in retail, exposure to overseas comics, and a robust economy briefly gave the illusion of a level playing field, where independent publishers shared shelf space with Marvel and DC, giving bold voices a platform, and inspiring innovation at every level of the industry. The Other 1980s celebrates stars and also-rans of indie comics, renegade innovators pushing the mainstream’s boundaries, and a few notable turtles, horses, and elves. Costello and Cremins are the ideal scholars to curate this collection, both unashamed to show fan-ish enthusiasm, while never brushing away the era’s blind spots and terrible takes concerning issues of race, gender, sexuality, and toy tie-ins. This book will make you take a serious look at the abjectly ridiculous, will send you on deep dives into quarter bins (trade reprints omit letters columns, ads, and paper dolls. . . .the best parts), and will become uncollectibly dog-eared after multiple re-readings. It is the first academic collection I’ve read that made me wish the essays were longer. 

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