Comic Writing Trends

I always find it insightful to stop, take a moment and really look at the trends of comic writing. Not just the trends going on today, but the trends that have come and gone over the years.

Below is a collection of just such data.

Keep in mind, I’m not a mathematician or statistics guru.

My process for this research included selecting 10 random issues from the specified decades. I then jumped to pages 6,11,17,22 and 27—using whatever content those pages contained. If I landed on a full page art or advert, I moved to the next page before or after (randomly picked)—if the book stopped before page 27 (or 22) I opened the comic to a random page and used that page as substitute.

A 50 page snapshot probably doesn’t paint the most accurate picture in the world, but I still believe it can tell us something.

If you’re like me, you may find the results absolutely fascinating.

 

Word Counts Per Page:

 

70swordspager

(That’s pages with less than 80 words total and more than 320 total on the ends of the graph.)

versus todayThis just blew my mind.

modernwordspage

yeah, that’s 6 pages out of the 50 I flipped to in modern comics containing zero dialogue or narration on them.

 

 Panels Per Page:

70spanels

versus today

modernpanels

While I always strive for 3-5 panels a page, 6 does seem to have a special connection balancing art and story in just the right proportion. Seems like it’s been that way since the beginning.

 

If you thought words per page was an eye opener, wait till you  take a look at:

Words Per Panel:

70swordspanel

 

compared to words per panel present day….

 

modernwordspanel

Seems like these days comics are a much more visual medium than days of old.

 

Opening Splash Pages:

10 out of 10 comics from the 70’s opened with full page art.
versus today, only 2 out of 10 modern books sampled opened with a splash page.

 

Caption Density:

70scapspage

74% of 70’s pages had at least 1 caption on them.
18% (not far off from 1 in 4), had between 5 and 15—that’s a dense usage of captions.

 

moderncapspage

Today it seems as though captions have mostly gone the way of the dodo, with a whopping nearly 60% of pages having no captions at all.

84% of pages had no more than 3 captions, and only 1 page out of 50 sampled had more than 6 captions.

 

 

Thought bubbles…
coming soon.

Cover trends…
coming soon.

 

I might also do an action vs static panel or some sort of content trend assessment, but not totally sure.

At the end of the day, you may find past trends of little significance in writing today’s market. There might be some weight to that argument—focusing on what the market expects today may be the fastest way to retain relevancy as a professional…

That said, I think of knowing where the industry’s been and how it landed where it is today, as empowering if not plain useful. You never know when you’ll be tapped (or inspired) to put together a retro book and need to mimic a specific time in comic history.

1970’s Issues Used:

Red Sonja #3 – Roy Thomas & Clara Noto

Marvel Premiere #22 – Tony Isabella

Conan the Barbarian #94 – Roy Thomas

Logan’s Run #2 – David Kraft

John Carter: Warlord of Mars #1 – Marv Wolfman

Nova #9 – Marv Wolfman

Machine Man #10 – Marv Wolfman

Micronauts #1 – Bill Mantlo

Marvel’s Greatest Comics #82 – Lee/Kirby

The Destructor #4 – Gerry Conway

Present Day Issues Used:

DK 3 Master Race #1 – Frank Miller & Brian Azzarello

Old Man Logan #1 – Brian Bendis

Past Aways #7 – Matt Kindt

The Rocketeer At War #1 – Marc Guggenheim

21st Century Tank Girl #1 – Alan Martin

GI Joe #1 – Karen Traviss

The Fadeout #1 – Ed Brubaker

Rebels #5 – Brian Wood

The Wicked & The Divine #1 – Kieron Gillen

Drive #1 – Michael Bendetto
Compiling the data and making these charts takes a hell of a lot of time.
I’ll be updating this page regularly. So check back in a few days.

(If I missed any specific trend or area of comic writing you want to see, leme know and I’ll try to find the time to include it). ▪

About the Author —
Nick Macari is a full-time freelance story consultant, developmental editor and writer, working primarily in the independent gaming and comic markets. His first published comic appeared on shelves via Diamond in the late 90’s. Today you can find his comic work on comixology, amazon and in select stores around the U.S.  Visit NickMacari.com for social media contacts and news on his latest releases.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *