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  1. #1
    Mattress Tester T Hedge Coke's Avatar
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    Default The Era of the Dominant Subplots

    When did the subplots begin to dominate American comics? First there were no real subplots carrying from story to story, then you had increasingly subplots that would slowly boil from issue to issue, story to story, but somehow, today, we've got to the point where, often, done-in-one stories are looked down on or considered a waste, and only the continuing elements are seen as important. An era where comics fans have no problem telling new readers that if they aren't already following the continuing subplots, they can't possibly understand or really appreciate the actual plot, the a-plot, of the comic at hand.

    When did we hit that point?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Polar Bear's Avatar
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    Levitz Legion of Super-Heroes, and Claremont Uncanny X-Men, maybe 1981 or so, I'd guess. Maybe an honorable mention to late-1970s Conway Amazing Spider-Man.
    Last edited by Polar Bear; 11-07-2012 at 10:07 AM.
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  3. #3
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    I would have thought it started earlier, back in the Stan Lee era, but I haven't read them in so long I could be misremembering.

  4. #4
    Mattress Tester T Hedge Coke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by berk View Post
    I would have thought it started earlier, back in the Stan Lee era, but I haven't read them in so long I could be misremembering.
    The change to more substantial presence of subplots, sure, but the majority of comics readers believing you can't understand a single issue's main story without following the last year's worth of subplots? I'm thinking Claremont/Levitz really jumped that one up, but the feeling became a majority feeling much more recent than that.

    I don't remember a lot of early 90s comics, say, where the majority of readers felt new readers couldn't just jump in with a recent issue, they had to go back three years and start there. (I still think it's mostly BS, but that's different.)

  5. #5
    To burn and to rise Mormel's Avatar
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    Dominant Sub
    There's a joke in here somewhere, but I'm torturing myself to figure out what it is.

    T Hedge Coke, I think you're referring to the TPB-suited mode of storytelling that is the norm these days. As in, you'll have a 4-issue or 6-issue storyline where the issues serve as chapters of that story, where before you'd have a comic that told its story start-middle-finish in 22 pages. When it comes to Marvel Comics, I would say the most drastic shift in favour of the 'subplot-driven' or TPB-centered storytelling, was when Quesada took over as EIC. Single-issue stories became increasingly rare at that point.

    Subplots themselves had been a pretty powerful storytelling tool for Marvel since pretty much forever, I guess- also cross-'universe', to have a subplot unfolding only to give it its conclusion in ANOTHER TITLE; pretty smart marketing, that. Though I would agree with Polar Bear that the importance of subplots was ramped up a notch by the early 1980s.

  6. #6
    To burn and to rise Mormel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T Hedge Coke View Post
    I don't remember a lot of early 90s comics, say, where the majority of readers felt new readers couldn't just jump in with a recent issue, they had to go back three years and start there. (I still think it's mostly BS, but that's different.)
    It is BS. The jump-in issues of 90s comics I sampled when I was a kid, didn't leave me confused at all.

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