Alternative comics

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Alternative comics is one of the numerous terms used to describe a number of comics that have appeared since about 1980 in the aftermath of the underground comix movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Usually these comics are from a single author, are often intended for an adult readership, and are experimental in nature. The works in question are also known as post-underground, independent, small press, new wave or art comics. Many self-published “minicomics” also fall under the generic term “alternative”.

Alternative comics offer an alternative to the mainstream comics that dominate the American comic industry (such as the Marvel and DC superhero-themed products, the light entertainment of Archie Comics, and manga-related works). These comics are usually produced under the time pressure of a fixed deadline by a whole team, one of which is responsible for the plot, preliminary drawing, final drawing, fonts, colors and editing. The subject matter and style of such comics are largely determined by the publisher; he hires the staff to produce the comic in accordance with well-founded conventions of the genre. In contrast, alternative comics are often written and drawn by a single person and, without giving much thought to a regular release date, are not published until the author deems them ready. Where the content of mainstream comics is subject to the influence of managers keen to drive sales, alternative comics are often distributed in small numbers to a specialized audience, allowing the publication of material that some people - the a more general readership - would describe them as obscure or obscure. In view of this, alternative comics build directly on the model of underground comics.

From underground to alternative

The counterculture of the hippie movement, as well as the underground comics distribution system associated with it, came to an end in the late 1970s. At this point it was becoming increasingly difficult for artists who had emerged from the underground movement to find a publisher, and those who continued to publish their issues found that their readership dwindled dramatically.

Two of the movement's leading artists countered this situation in the early 1980s by creating magazines that collected new, artistically ambitious comics. RAW , an elaborately designed, large-format collection whose main focus was on the artistic aspect, was founded in 1980 by Art Spiegelman and his wife Francoise Mouly . Another magazine, Weirdo , was launched in 1981 by the movement's leading figure, Robert Crumb .

Both magazines have seen changes since the days of the underground comic movement. They differed in format and choice of artists from the old comics. RAW presented mainly European artists. Weirdo contained "photo funnies" and strange looking documents designed in the style of Art brut . The main ingredients of underground comics - sex, drugs, and revolution - were much less apparent. The focus was now increasingly on the further technical development of drawing and storytelling, with many artists striving to create a work that was more subtle and complex than was usual in the underground. This applied to many works by renowned artists as well as to those of the newcomers: Art Spiegelman's Maus , highly praised for the new seriousness it brought to the medium, was printed as a series in RAW.

Another important factor in the establishment of alternative comics was the emergence of the Fantagraphics publishing house in the late 1970s. This small business, run by Gary Groth and Kim Thompson , has been instrumental in attracting an audience to serious comics. With "The Comic Journal" they created a magazine that seriously discussed comics. They printed some historically important comics that had been forgotten and published the works of a new generation, such as Love and Rockets by the Hernandez brothers.

Alternative comics have largely earned their place in culture. B. is documented with the success of the film Ghost World , which is based on one of the most successful alternative titles, Eightball by Daniel Clowes . The same applies to the cross-genre success of the book Jimmy Corrigan - The smartest kid on earth by Chris Ware , whose story comes from Ware's comic book Acme Novelty Library .

Alternative mainstream

The term alternative comics is also used to refer to comics that are not published by one of the major market leaders. The content of some of these comics, for example many of the magazines published by Image Verlag, does not differ much from that of the mainstream comics. Therefore, the term alternative mainstream is occasionally used in order to distinguish such comics from the “real” alternative comics.

Alternative comics

Alternative comic publishers

See also

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