I have pushed through my first 25 issues of The Mighty Thor. The experience has been a surprisingly pleasant one so far. I had anticipated that the quality of the stories would be the limiting factor in how quickly I could read each issue. It turns out that the limiting factor is the density of the plot.
These older comics are so dense, contain so much dialogue, that it takes 3 to 4 times longer to read each single issue. This preponderance of plot is offset by lower quality artwork. I have some additional thoughts on this subject, but I will reserve those for another post. Maybe after I have a chance to bounce some ideas off my friends.
Right now, I want to focus on my very first impressions, the really superficial “judge a book by it’s cover stuff.”
Age. First of all, these comics were not Thor circa 1993, like I had guessed. This collection starts with The Mighty Thor #335 which was published in 1983. The cover price is $0.75, the following issues drop back down to $0.60.
Color Printing. There isn’t much to say here. Color printing has obviously improved tremendously in the last 30 years. I can only imagine how an artist with a time machine would feel if she could see the subtlety and range available in current print comic books. Tears of joy.
Paper Quality. Older comics were not printed on glossy paper. The old single issues I’ve been handling are all softer and grittier feeling. I love the feel of my current pull list, especially the upgraded paper for various Image titles like East of West. I want to touch these older comics as little as possible, like with just the very tip of my index finger if I can manage to turn the page that way. On the other hand though, old Thor smells like an antique bookstore and I take a nice big noseful each time I open a bag to read the next issue.
When I look at the increase in the price of comics books over the last thirty years, I often forget to account for additional improvements above and beyond standard inflation.
Location of Credits. Thor is the only name appearing on the exterior of these single issues. On the interior page, the full title of the comic, at the top of the page reads Stan Lee Presents: The Mighty Thor. At the bottom of the page in no more than 12 point font, are the names of the creative team, which includes the editor and editor-in-chief, who are given equal billing. None of the names are larger than any others, which I suppose is fair.
This is intriguing to me because there have recently been Twitter discussions regarding crediting creative teams in modern comics. We’re currently at a point where comic book marketing is frequently built around the writer and artist roles, with coloring and letters as an afterthought. I wonder if comic book creators consider the present state as progress compared to 30 years ago. There’s no longer equal treatment, but at least some creators seem to be getting more recognition. It’s seeming like this could be a zero sum issue. I dunno, is fame a conserved quantity?