In the last few weeks I’ve read interviews with Alan Moore and Joss Whedon where they mention that mainstream comics have begun to stagnate over the last few years. The intimation is that a group of younger authors are needed to refresh the medium and give it a new take.
It’s interesting that comics, like pop music, believe that they need revolutionary, rather than evolutionary, changes. There’s an expectation that younger creators can blow the medium apart, rather than having the older, wiser masters create genre-defining masterpieces, the way that you more often see in prose books or film.
Part of that is, I think, due to the fact that (recorded) music and comics are both intimately tied to production and distribution as part of their craft. New tools appear constantly, and we expect that younger folks will have an easier time discovering shocking and powerful new ways to exploit them. Mainstream comics also rely on people being able to re-interpret the same characters and situations over and over again. What does it take to recreate Batman for a new generation? Is it simply a new way to tell the story, or does somethign as ground-breaking as The Dark Knight Returns was a quarter century ago, only happen when creators realize that the very nature of the medium has changed?

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