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Anthology Comic

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An Anthology Comic is a comic containing multiple stories, often by different writers and artists. The different stories may or may not all be set in the same 'verse. Some have art and writing house styles of various strengths.

Anthology comics used to be common in America, but are less visible nowadays. Marvel and DC, originally published several stories in one issue of their respective comics; only the most popular characters ever got a whole issue devoted to them, and even then it was typically a group of shorter stories about the character. Nowadays, Marvel and DC typically publish one or two stories per issue of each comic — the Decompressed Comic and Writing for the Trade pretty much forced the end of the anthology at the Big Two. However, Marvel has recently attempted to revive the anthology format with Marvel Comics Presents; the first series lasted 175 issues but the second only 12. They've since tried giving it another go, this time re-using the Strange Tales title. A more successful attempt has been Marvel's Voices, a set of themed anthologies, each one published annually, timed to coincide with events such as Pride Month and Black History Month.

It is also easier to find independent comics that go down the anthology route.

In Britain, anthologies are the norm. Most are aimed at pre-teen children and consist primarily of a set of one-to-two page gag strips, though there are exceptions. If a comic is successful, a publisher may print a summer special, featuring longer stories which often revolve around some theme. Very successful comics may even have annuals printed. An annual, as its name suggests, is a hardback collection of new stories published once a year, typically just before Christmas. These stories tend to be considerably longer than those in the main comic, and the annual also often has things like quizzes, activities, and text stories.

If a certain character proves to be very popular, they may get their very own comic. This may be either a one-off or semi-regular extended story, or it may be a full-blown Spin-Off. Judge Dredd is a good example - although, in typical British style, the spin-off Judge Dredd Megazine is itself an anthology.

Anthologies are also the norm in Japan. Manga will, at almost all times, go to the anthology route, having multiple comic series be serialized in larger magazines that are a few hundred pages long, with each one being about 20-30 pages in length (except for gag series and Yonkoma). Those aimed at teenage boys or girls often put the name of their demographic in the title, while those aimed at seinen or josei usually use words like young or youth.

In Japan, if a series becomes popular enough, it will often be published in a series of softback collections known as tankobonnote . Tankobon are the primary format in which manga are published outside Japan.

Anthologies used to be common in France (and Belgium and the Netherlands) as well, using the same model as British ones though more of the featured Franco-Belgian Comics were story-based. Some are still published, but do not seem to have made as much of an impact as the American or Japanese publications; though they are still the dominant and default form of comics magazines, it's just that the collected editions are seen much more as the real deal, the publication in anthology magazines (and papers) is seen as pre-publication, rather than as first edition.

See also Animated Anthology.


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