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How Wonderful!
Jul 18, 2006


I only have excellent ideas.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxwzaoIgDXA

It's the 90s! You're heading to your local comic book shop-slash-sports collectibles store to pick up your pull-list, or maybe reaching your chubby little toddler mitts at the spinner rack from the back of your mom's grocery cart. Comics are big, until they aren't! Comics are great, unless they're not! Many of us came to comics during the 90s, and recall the decade through the miasmic haze of childhood, or puberty. Others of you may only know it vicariously, or lived through it as adults. But none of those are immune to the allure of easy narratives and trite, reductive revisionist histories-- too often, the evocation of 90s comics brings to mind visions of grimacing men with pituitary issues, bad girl covers on comics nobody ever actually read, crummy sales gimmicks, speculation bubbles, boy's club antics, and pages and pages of dull, faux-transgressive, or derivative writing.

This thread is meant to show the other side of the story-- to talk about the great quantity of excellent comics produced during the 90s, from fan-favorite Big Two runs like the Busiek/Perez Avengers, to perennial all-ages stuff like Bone, to the tremendous wave of small-press and indie comics, to the drastic influx of manga into Western markets.








I've said it before: I think you could commit yourself to only reading comics from the 90s, and be set with entertaining, thoughtful, and artfully made reading for a good long time! So let's discuss our personal 90s pantheons-- the true masterpieces, the overlooked gems, and the sentimental favorites, everything from Stuck Rubber Baby to Starman and whatever falls in between.

While I'd like to gently dissuade this from being another thread to post pictures of ugly Liefeld drawings, I also don't want this to feel like big two cape stuff is excluded. If you legit like it or feel some twinge of affection or fondness for something, it belongs in here. The 90s were pretty dense with great, good, or at least indulgently fun superhero comics and I want to talk about those too! So if you're the world's biggest fan of Spawn Nightwatch please tell us why!

Ditto if you're a huge aficionado of manga or Eurocomics or any other geographical niche that is sometimes ill-served by BSS, I would love to hear what your scene was up to in the 90s!

How Wonderful! fucked around with this message at 06:07 on Feb 21, 2021

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How Wonderful!
Jul 18, 2006


I only have excellent ideas.


I'll begin by noting a broad trend: while queer comics were by no means a product of the 90s (Gay Comix debuted in 1980 and scattered LGBTQ+ themed comics appeared here and there prior, from short-lived gay-focused anthologies like Gay Heart Throbs, to gag strips in gay magazines and weeklies, to sporadic lesbian minicomics and stories in venues like Wimmen's Comix) the 90s saw a marked increase both in the quantity of queer comics as well as the quality, as younger queer artists entered the industry and older ones entered the mature phases of their career. Howard Cruse cut his teeth in underground anthologies and his long-running strip Wendel but his masterpiece if 1995's Stuck Rubber Baby, a gay memoir published via Piranha Press. The 90s saw Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For reach new heights of artistic sophistication and soapy narrative complexity, and comics like Roberta Gregory's Bitchy Bitch and Diane DiMassa's Hothead Paisan introduced an acerbic 90s bite to the lesbian-friendly feminist indie comics of previous decades.

Increased mainstream visibility of and sympathy towards queer issues also saw an uptick in representation in big two comics, from the slew of middling-to-good-to-awful supporting characters in Vertigo books to superhero characters like Pied Piper in The Flash or Northstar in Alpha Flight. Sometimes these were handled fairly nicely-- Danny the Street remains a wonderful concept-- and other times you have Shvaughn Erin. More frequently, there were well-intentioned but somewhat clumsy or now-dated attempts such as Sandman's Wanda, The Invisibles' Lord Fannie, the gay-bashing arc in Green Lantern, or Chris Cooper's subdued depiction of Victorian Montesi as a lesbian in his under-rated Darkhold.

How Wonderful! fucked around with this message at 06:35 on Feb 21, 2021

FrumpleOrz
Feb 12, 2014

Perhaps you have not been to the *Playground*.
The *Playground* is for Taalo and for Orz, but *Campers* can go.
It more fun than several.
You can go there for too much fun.


I've been dipping my toes into this era again after reading a lot of 90s comics as a kid. It's been more along the lines of comics I read about in magazines as a kid but never could find at the news stands back then. I started with The Crow (1989 but stylistically 90s and kind of a bridge between 80s indie and what happens in the 90s) and I'm working through the first omnibus of The Mask right now. Both are way different than I expected them to be but in a good way. I'm really surprised at how much The Mask comes across as an allegory for drug and alcohol abuse instead of whatever the film was trying to do. The Crow is so bitter and angry, almost like The Punisher, but with some real catharsis happening instead of being completely silly.

I always associate the 90s with ElfQuest too. I know it's been around forever but I remember buying a ton of issues from multiple series at the time. It felt like an Elf-sposion or something. I wish the big collections weren't so expensive and OOP so I could snag those again.

I've been meaning to pick up some of Bechdel's collections after you posted them in the Comic Strip thread. There's just so much cool stuff from the era that it's hard to pick just one thing to read.

Squizzle
Apr 24, 2008






well now im going to have to go thru all of bachalo's generation x issues and find the delightful marginalia characters he used, and put them into a post. elves! frogs!! stan lee!!! possibly others

one of my favorite arbitrary insertions by an artist in all of comics. bachalo's pages in gen-x are treasures in generalónot just the quality of his art, but his skill at using the layout as a storytelling element, and his illumination of the gutters with various (as mentioned) small characters and repeating patterns.

How Wonderful!
Jul 18, 2006


I only have excellent ideas.


Squizzle posted:

well now im going to have to go thru all of bachalo's generation x issues and find the delightful marginalia characters he used, and put them into a post. elves! frogs!! stan lee!!! possibly others

one of my favorite arbitrary insertions by an artist in all of comics. bachalo's pages in gen-x are treasures in generalónot just the quality of his art, but his skill at using the layout as a storytelling element, and his illumination of the gutters with various (as mentioned) small characters and repeating patterns.

He did such beautiful layouts throughout the entire decade. I've also been struck by this kind of incidental page in Shade the Changing Man #3, just how he plays with feelings of buoyancy and gravity here.

Although it's so strange going back and seeing him inked with those scratchy, jittery Pennington lines. Nice, but strange.

Madkal
Feb 11, 2008

It was all going well, and then the parademons showed up


Fallen Rib

The Chris Bachalo stuff reminds that I should re-read his Death: High Cost of Living comic. I love how manages to do realistic stuff but I love his cartoonish stuff even more though. His Gen X stuff and the art he was doing in the Generation Next comic during the AoA was next level poo poo as far as I am concerned.

Anyway, if we are talking about the 90's can we talk about Batman from the 90's because that is the stuff I grew up on.
Everyone knows the two big Batman events from the 90's, that being Knightfall (and I guess to a certain extent Knightquest and Knightsend) and No Man's Land. I have heard that the whole AzBats thing was supposed to be a a kind of condemnation of the whole 90's extreme ultra violent movement. Here is a guy with thousands of pouches, claws for hands and shoots poo poo I guess and he is ultra violent. He is also crazy. Is that really what you want? Anyway I loved Azbats because he was just toytastic. Sure his costume didn't make sense but it looked cool. This is all a digression though because I want to talk about a specific run of Batman from the 90's. I want to talk about the Moench/Jones/Beatty run that went from 1995-1998 (42 issues). After the big events of the Knight trilogy or whatever you call it, Batman was ready to settle in some more low stakes adventures, nothing earth shattering and epic. Enter comic veteran Doug Moench who brought a bit of a old school charm to Batman, and Kelley Jones who brought a gothic horror element to the character that had not been seen in a long time. When I mean gothic horror, I mean full on strange beasts, scary monsters, crazy German expressionist style sets and the whole shebang. The stories heavily leaned into this aesthetic as there was a story about an Ogre killing scientists, a Man-Bat in the arctic, a Spectre crossover, a Joker/Demon team up, a serial killer who dresses up in grotesque versions of his villains, and many more. When it came to 90's excessiveness this was a Batman run that seemed both definitive and unique. The art (and I say this as a big fan of Jones) was just as crazy and hyper realized as the famous 90's artists, but where they drew big muscular men living in the real world, Jones drew big muscular men living in some altered reality where there dark sharp corners everywhere, and deep sunken eyes. Jones' character were supposed to be a hyper realized version of masculinity but rather a bizarre and grotesque figure that could only make sense in the world he created. Maybe it was because it came in at the end of 90's implosion (which kind of happened in the early 90's when the market went bust) but this was a very unique Batman run that kind of ran counter to the aesthetic of the big name comics. At least that is how I felt about the run.

CAR CRASH CRACKERS
Jan 13, 2008

anyone but you dipshit


FrumpleOrz posted:

I always associate the 90s with ElfQuest too. I know it's been around forever but I remember buying a ton of issues from multiple series at the time. It felt like an Elf-sposion or something. I wish the big collections weren't so expensive and OOP so I could snag those again.

Most of ElfQuest is available on http://elfquest.com if you just want to read it again.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


I still think of Cerebus and sigh wistfully at that comic's wildly protracted swan dive into the authors own gaping distended rear end in a top hat. Church and state was so good.

Soonmot
Dec 19, 2002

Entrapta fucking loves robots




Grimey Drawer

I did a Wolverine reread two years back and those 90s issues written by Larry Hama, which is a good long run, are fantastic. Grounded but still fantastical, if that makes sense.

Was Top 10 a 90s comic, I should reread that series again.

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Mister Kingdom
Dec 14, 2005

And the tears that fall
On the city wall
Will fade away
With the rays of morning light

Soonmot posted:

I did a Wolverine reread two years back and those 90s issues written by Larry Hama, which is a good long run, are fantastic. Grounded but still fantastical, if that makes sense.

Was Top 10 a 90s comic, I should reread that series again.

It ran from September 1999 until October 2001.

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