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Size matters: The secret origin of the term ‘pamphlet’

by  in Comic News Comment
Size matters: The secret origin of the term ‘pamphlet’

Heidi MacDonald should clean her office out more often, as it resulted in an interesting blogpost and an interesting discussion over at The Beat. First, Heidi explains where the term “pamphlet” came from in terms of describing comic books:

The origin of the phrase “32 page pamphlet” as a negative term for periodical comic books is usually attributed to either myself, Kurt Busiek or Marv Wolfman. Specifically it goes back to PROcon, a gathering for comics professionals, back in the early ’90s, that was sort of an industry issue conference. Attendees listened to panels of other pros, and spirited hand raising debates often began. And everyone wore togas.

They didn’t, but that would have been cool.

Anyway, the way I remember it, many writers and artists were chafing against the straitjacket of the monolithic format and subject matter of the era — graphic novels and collections were not as ubiquitous as they are now, and traditional superhero comics made up even more of industry output than they do now. I do recall Marv Wolfman standing up at one point and asking something along the lines of “Why should we be held to these…these 32 page…PAMPHLETS!” and everyone kind of jumped on the bandwagon and called them 32 page pamphlets for the rest of the conference.

Wolfman offers his thoughts in the comments field, saying he meant for the term to be “derisive,” then shares several interesting thoughts about telling stories in longer formats and on the web, where stories “can be the size they need to be.” Paul Pope weighs in as well. Go check it out.

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