… and the effect got contagious on TV… movies… etc…
There is actually a very interesting bit of politics/financial reasons as to why this particular book nearly destroyed the comics industry on the whole. This issue came just before the “great depression” in the comic book industry.
When it was announced that they were “killing” Superman, everyone and their grandmother rushed out to buy an issue, because they assumed the book would be worth millions of dollars later on. So even the most casual readers were going to line up to buy this comic. It was a huge oversight on the part of DC, and they MASS PRODUCED that issue by the truckloads (more than any other comic at the time).
Then, they brought Superman back, and it didn’t even matter…the comic was worthless, casual readers were turned off from comics and fans felt like they had been duped. This saw a huge decline in the sales of comics, which nearly killed the industry.
Just a little something that (very awesome video) doesn’t really shed light on.
This wasn’t the beginning of the comic-book speculation craze. I think it’s main significance is the introduction of “comic book death” (reversible death). The deaths of Aquababy, Gwen Stacy, Phoenix, and Robin II (Jason Todd) were assumed to be permanent. After Superman, resurrections became so common that the whole idea of “comic book death” became a joke–it would be difficult to name a character whose resurrection has not at least been teased, if not actually accomplished (sometimes en masse).
But “ruined comics forever”? Come now. Comics are a medium, and are not limited to the superhero genre, and there have been many worthy examples since the mid-1990’s (e.g. Persepolis). Even limiting ourselves to superheroes, surely there have been some good books since then. The Boys? The Immortal Iron Fist? Brubaker’s Captain America? Swamp Thing?
The comic book industry has been threatened mainly by problems with distribution (when I was a kid you could buy comics at 7-11, but now you have to go to speciality shops), and by the lack of interest in them in younger generations (which prefer video games). The first problem could be solved through e-publishing (recently introduced). The second is harder, but superheroes are multimedia characters who are routinely adapted for video games and movies, which in fact make a lot more money than the comics themselves. These might conceivably attract a certain number of new readers.
Maybe it they had more adult themes that appealed to adult readers, like Japanese comics?
In that case, may I recommend Garth Ennis’ The Boys…?
Just watched Batman: under the red hood. Again, a death that was not a death.
The Death of Superman didn’t really ruin comics. Like Solid Champ said, at the time, it was marketed as this huge event, and everyone thought it was going to worth a lot of money in the future, but it was mass produced (which is why marvel now only sells a number of their event titles). While the comic book death is comical and frustrating at times, it just makes the good comics stand out even more. Comics as I’m using it here would only apply to anything published in the two big house’s multiverse. Take for example, unstable molecules, the recently released batman earth one, all star superman, civil war, house of m, a number of green arrow stories, sinestro corps war, and a collection of jsa as well. Because comic book death is so common, and not something that really means much anymore, we’ve come to expect it. And it brings a greater appreciation to good solid story telling. When I think of Batman, I don’t think of the whole canon and ex canons and various incarnations. I think of the various stories that stood out that were amazing experiences to read. Civil War and House of M both feaures characters dying, and returning from the dead in one way or another, best marvel events imo.
For me, anything in between the death and rebirth of a character is filler, and rarely has a gem. But there has been exceptions to this as well, take Batman and Robin. So it’s not that comic book death killed comics, there’s just bad story telling.
I recommend “Hellboy” and “BPRD” comics, by Mike Mignola. There are some good old deaths (non-reversible). And it’s been improving constantly.