Collecting Comic BooksSince the introduction of the comic-book format in 1934 with the publication of Famous Funnies, the United States has produced the most titles, with only the British comic and Japanese manga as close competitors in terms of quantity of titles. The comic-book industry in the U.S. markets the majority of its output to young adult readers, though it also produces titles for young children as well as catering to adult audiences.
Cultural historians divide the career of the comic book in the U.S. into several ages or historical eras: the Golden Age, the Silver Age, the Bronze Age, and the Modern Age. The exact boundaries of these eras, the terms for which originated in the fandom press, remains debated among comic-book historians.
Most people think of the Golden Age as lasting from the introduction of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's Superman in 1938 until the late 1940s or early 1950s. During this time, comic books enjoyed considerable popularity; the genre invented and defined the archetype of the superhero and originated many of the most popular superheroes. While comics as an art form could theoretically extend as far back in history as sequential cave paintings, comic books are dependent on printing, and the starting point for them in book form is generally considered to be the tabloid-sized The Funnies begun in 1929, or the smaller-sized Funnies on Parade begun in 1933. Both of these were simply reprints of newspaper strips.
The Silver Age of Comic Books is generally considered to date from the first successful revival of the dormant superhero form - the debut of Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino's Flash in Showcase #4 (September-October 1956) - and lasts through the early 1970s, during which time Marvel Comics revolutionized the medium with such naturalistic superheroes as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four and Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's Spider-Man. There is less agreement on the beginnings of the Bronze and Modern ages. Some suggest that the Bronze Age is still taking place. Starting points that have been suggested for the Bronze Age of comics are Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith's Conan #1 (October 1970), Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams' Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76 (April 1970) or Stan Lee and Gil Kane's Amazing Spider-Man #96 (May 1971) (the non-Comics Code issue). The start of the Modern Age (occasionally referred to as the Iron Age) has even more potential starting points, but is generally agreed to be the publication of Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel and Alan Moore's Watchmen by DC Comics in 1986, as well as the publication of DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths, with Marv Wolfman as writer and George Pérez on the pencils.