Forget all that crap I said about the importance of new genres and formats. When you get right down to it, the Bronze Age was one in which boundaries were pushed. Readers witnessed a revolution in form as the fourth wall was often knocked down, certain metatextual themes appeared and the entire industry became self-referential and aware of its place in American pop culture. One book started this trend, allowing reading to pull back the curtain and that book was Laugh Comics #191 – the first book of the Bronze Age.
In the Golden Age, there was a purity of spirit. In the Superhero genre, the good guys were 100% good and the bad guys were bad to the bone. Even in the funny animal books – it was all just good clean fun. Over time, other genres snuck in and stole a bit of the Golden Age’s innocence. Horror, Crime and even some of the seedier Romance titles tarnished the golden glow. Showcase #4 represented, in many ways, a return to the purity of comics of the early Golden Age.
Over time, things grew stale and creators needed to find new ways in which to express themselves. Perhaps inspired by certain avant garde movements in other art forms, comic book creators began to look at their work from a different perspective. It is this desire to flip things around that led to the cover of Laugh Comics #191. With this cover, we see that comics are aware of the Pop Art movement in the real world. We see the struggled for it to be accepted as a true art form, as compared to the works of Shakespeare. It is a powerful message, as Dilton represents the old guard and Ms. Grundy is attempting to shake things up.
This simple and yet effective cover paved the way for so many of the groundbreaking works of the Bronze Age: those Rutland, VT Halloween stories, the concept of Earth Prime in the DCU and even Howard the Duck’s run at the presidency. Anything was possible in the Bronze Age as comic book panels became porous, allowing characters and themes to escape from their former prison, and for us to visit the Four Color world (just ask Charlie Droople). Not of this would be possible without Laugh Comics #191, the cover that kicked off the Bronze Age.
If I haven’t lost you yet, please stop by Seduction of the Indifferent.
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