Why did comics become “dark” in the 1980s?
During the 1980s comics were becoming “darker”, more sophisticated and more mature in content. There are several explanations as to why comics were going in the direction that they were; one reason was because of an epidemic of violent crimes, and a plague of illicit drugs during the 1980s. Along with the rise of these and other illegal activities in the 1980s came the rise of the direct market for comic books. Since the direct market had begun to grow, the average age of the typical comic book reader was rising since these were the same people that had started reading comics when they were younger. Since these comic readers were growing older and more mature, they had a desire for the comic books that they read to become more sophisticated and mature, and the comic book industry as always realized this and adapted in order meet the needs of their readers. Writers like Frank Miller and Alan Moore were at the front of this change with their comic book series The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. These stories met the standards of the maturing comic book audience with their more sophisticated and mature content. Moore used Watchmen as a means to reflect contemporary anxieties and to critique the superhero concept, while Miller used his story to reflect a very dark and grim near future in the Batman story.