What’s up panel surfers? Welcome our first posting. What is panel surfing you ask? Well basically it is the scientific study of the American art form medium known as sequential story art. In actuality it is just me talkin’ about comic art.
While there are many “ages” used to mark the industry’s or hobby’s era’s of growth the American Comic Book has really been flourishing since what is known as the “Golden Age” which saw the industry explode during the World War II years between 1939-1945. While publishers today run victory laps if a title sells 100,000 copies it was nothing back then for titles to hit the million mark as Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel and Captain America became best sellers to our Armed Forces overseas and to a generation of youth in America. This is really the birth of the medium that Hollywood has fallen in love with today.
In the 1970’s and early ’80’s burgeoning specialty shops sprung up all over the country selling just comics. You could still find some treasure troves in backwoods garage sales (our forefathers ebay) if you were lucky and knew what you were looking for and comics started to become bigger business on the secondary market. There were titles published specifically for this new reader…the collector. Comics weren’t just living at the newsstand anymore…they were moving into a fancier neighborhood.
The ’90’s saw the speculator boom and bust which nearly ruined the industry when investors flocked into the stores to buy up multiple copies of issues thinking they would be worth their weight in gold in the years to come. Supply quickly exceeded demand and for the most part the quality of the product would not stand the test of time. One thing that would though was the third party grading system introduced at the end of the decade of speculation and all of a sudden comics were really big business all over again. High grade issues were now commanding 5 and 6 figure prices and the now we have those same garage sale hunters of the ’70’s and ’80’s lecturing to us in three piece suits on the safety on investing in comics over the unsavory stock market. And this less than 50 years after comic creators used aliases to work in the industry and hid from witch hunters like Dr. Frederic Wertham who said comics were turning kids into killers.
But it is true. High grade comics are tremendous investments. But that makes them hard to enjoy and isn’t that what the medium was invented for? To create fun stories to enjoy? Well the natural evolution of many a comic collector eventually leads them to original art. It is now very de rigueur for the one time geek culture that is all grown up now. The investment stats are there as we will look at and discuss in future posts but the enjoyment can be derived 24/7 as well. You don’t have to seal up your treasure in an airtight case and stick it in a vault. A frame and your favorite wall to look at will do just fine.
That is what Panel Surfing will primarily be devoted to. Studying, evaluating , and discussing the great and deep world of original comic art. From interviews with publishers, creators, artists, writers, and collectors, we’ll look to educate anyone and everyone on original art. We’ll also look to talk about trends in the hobby and medium and spotlight upcoming artists.
I also love pop culture so you are going to get my musings on that subject too from time to time. Movies. TV. You name it. I have a cartoon education so I can finally put my Warner Bros cartoon frame of reference to good use thanks to the internet. Hollywood has made the comic industry a farm system for source material and as a billion dollar industry it is a subject that merits attention.
So I hope you will stick around, contribute to the conversation, and help us all grow and perpetuate this great medium and hobby we have been such active participants in since the Golden Age…