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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member Tzigone's Avatar
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    Default Do you ever check for technology benchmarks in old comics? I'm curious about it

    I mean, do you ever pay attention to the first time a title character is shown with a cellphone? A home computer? In the much older comics even a tv. Going back to the 1930s, I'd even say washing machines and refrigerators, but that's not the kind of thing we saw in those days, I don't think. I was thinking about it because I'd read some silver age western comics, and, of course, they were often standard westerns, despite (at least at times) being set in the 1880s, the towns didn't seem to have running water or electricity like some western towns did then (of course, they weren't really consistent on size, either, and that matters). And then there was PowWow, which was set in the then-present, but treated so often as though it were in the past that it got moved there. I kind wonder if it was moved because fans tended to assume it was in the past or because even the rural areas were modernizing too much to pull it off by then.

    Nonetheless, actual stories written in the time they were at are more useful because, unlike westerns, they aren't intentionally presenting an era that never really existed in the way presented, but the world they lived in. Certainly in some of the old stories, even when it wasn't the point, we'd see the kind of urban poverty that doesn't exist anymore (not that urban poverty doesn't exist, but it doesn't look like it did back then). I've even noticed the hairstyle and clothing changes. But that's not as specific and easily markable/measurable and consumer devices. Especially for the non-rich heroes. But the mundane everyday devices that don't effect heroing that didn't exist when the comic started, when did we first see characters use them? Just sitting in the background or whatnot. Or even ones that could effect heroing, like cellphones. Though we see comms used, of course, I can't really remember when that started. I remember Dick having a pager in '90s Nightwing.

  2. #2
    Relaunched, not rebooted! SJNeal's Avatar
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    Do I actively check for dated technology? No, but I do I notice it, as I appreciate the time-capsuley aspects of older comics in general.

    Oddly enough, some of the more dated references come from late 80's/early 90's books, as tech has advanced a lot more quickly in recent decades than it did in the 1940's-70's. I find early internet references to be particularly funny.
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  3. #3
    Extraordinary Member WebLurker's Avatar
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    No, but I do find it funny seeing characters using pay phones and the like in stories written decades ago but the sliding timescale has moved to the present day. I also find it funny when stories depend on technology limits that have been since exceeded.
    Doctor Strange: "You are the right person to replace Logan."
    X-23: "I know there are people who disapprove... Guys on the Internet mainly."
    (All-New Wolverine #4)

  4. #4
    Extraordinary Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Yes, and it's fun:

    Dick's first undercover as a newsies
    Clayface was originally a silent movie actor
    Bruce and Dick tried the first landline to Mexico
    Superman changing and using payphones of course
    The flash bulbs the reporters used to interview Ivy
    Bruce and Dick using transistor radio
    All the WWII bunker style computers in and paper archives in the Batcave
    The old brick and bars prison with iron keys

    "Print is dead" said a TV reporter to Julia Remarque
    Clark becoming a TV reporter instead, Kara also worked in TV
    Jason Todd busting a hardcopy child porn ring

    The fact that Kon-El is a clone
    Tim or Dick complained that Ra's is still using Curtains 95
    All the fat monitors and keyboards in Oracle's hideout
    Stephanie Brown using spray paint to spoil her father's plan

    Kevlars!
    Arkham's barred doors replaced with bulletproof glass

    Damian demanded his laptop returned
    Bruce trolling CBR forum with Bruce is Batman theory using different usernames
    Naomi(?) complained to Ollie about people filming violence to be posted online
    "Print is dead" said New 52 Lois to Clark
    Tim using Q-core laptop
    Clark quits Daily Planet to make a blog
    Ollie selling Q-tablets
    Stephanie Brown using online forum to spoil her father's plan

    Damian using Chirper to check people talking about Robin on his Nightwing case smartphone
    Dick installing Netflix but doesn't know what Netflix and Chill means. Damian knows.
    Dick complaining people are spending too much time on smartphones these days
    Joker create chaos by rewarding people's most outlandish viral videos

    Of course how Metallo, Batmobile, and Batplane looked back then compared to today, Batmobile starting as a regular car to streamlined sci-fi racecar that can fly
    Last edited by Restingvoice; 10-14-2020 at 11:06 PM.

  5. #5
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    This is one of the reasons why I wish that comics had more strict timelines. They make perfect sense for their era but not now.

  6. #6
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
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    Technology is one of the many reasons that adherence to strict continuity doesn't make any kind of sense within a sliding timeline. There's no way that certain stories could have happened exactly the same way given how fast our technology has advanced over the past few decades.

    And, if you're willing to accept that those stories have changed because of the sliding timeline, then it doesn't make sense to not accept that other aspects of the story might also be changed to make for better stories in the present, like, say, retroactively making Alan Scott gay, which would require erasing the handful of times he was shown being attracted to women

    *ducks*
    Last edited by Bored at 3:00AM; 10-15-2020 at 12:53 AM.

  7. #7
    Extraordinary Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bored at 3:00AM View Post
    Technology is one of the many reasons that adherence to strict continuity doesn't make any kind of sense within a sliding timeline. There's no way that certain stories could have happened exactly the same way given how fast our technology has advanced over the past few decades.

    And, if you're willing to accept that those stories have changed because of the sliding timeline, then it doesn't make sense to not accept that other aspects of the story might also be changed to make for better stories in the present, like, say, retroactively making Alan Scott gay, which would require erasing the handful of times he was shown being attracted to women

    *ducks*
    Always wonder why they don't just make him... and Iceman over at Marvel... bi

  8. #8
    Astonishing Member Tzigone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bored at 3:00AM View Post
    Technology is one of the many reasons that adherence to strict continuity doesn't make any kind of sense within a sliding timeline. There's no way that certain stories could have happened exactly the same way given how fast our technology has advanced over the past few decades.

    And, if you're willing to accept that those stories have changed because of the sliding timeline, then it doesn't make sense to not accept that other aspects of the story might also be changed to make for better stories in the present, like, say, retroactively making Alan Scott gay, which would require erasing the handful of times he was shown being attracted to women

    *ducks*
    I strongly disagree. Technology is just backdrop, generally. It's just "the world of the day" and that world happens to change. Changing major events that have nothing to do with technology or the change of culture or the social mores of the time is entirely different kettle of fish. And many aren't for the better, IMO. And changing a character's sexual preference or race necessarily changes the entire character, given the world we live in today and how much impact those have on how society treats people. Maybe one day it won't be that way, but it definitely i snow. However, this is massively off topic for this thread.

    Oddly enough, some of the more dated references come from late 80's/early 90's books, as tech has advanced a lot more quickly in recent decades than it did in the 1940's-70's. I find early internet references to be particularly funny.
    I don't know that tech has advanced a lot more in recent decades, really. But we don't necessarily think of those older technologies as technologies. Antibiotics were first mass-produced in that timespan. Satellites put into space. Birth control pills developed. Lasers were developed. Huge advances in rocketry and aviation. And agriculture (green revolution). TV has already been mentioned. And, of course, the refrigerator took on it's modern form and got a full freezer. Connected to consumer-level frozen foods widely on the market. Fully automatic washing machines (which did already exist) becoming common in homes, along with dishwashers, etc. Tupperware was developed. It's not exciting, but definitely had an impact on society.

    And I think part of is that computers, more specifically the internet you mentioned were "sexy" technologies (see the stockmarket in the 1980s) that got talked about a lot and were similarly used in comics, as opposed to other technologies that just "were" and since they didn't get stories so much about them, or specific effort to capitalize on their attention-drawing nature, they don't have that "dated" feel.
    Last edited by Tzigone; 10-15-2020 at 05:15 AM.

  9. #9
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tzigone View Post
    I strongly disagree. Technology is just backdrop, generally. It's just "the world of the day" and that world happens to change. Changing major events that have nothing to do with technology or the change of culture or the social mores of the time is entirely different kettle of fish. And many aren't for the better, IMO. And changing a character's sexual preference or race necessarily changes the entire character, given the world we live in today and how much impact those have on how society treats people. Maybe one day it won't be that way, but it definitely i snow. However, this is massively off topic for this thread.
    .
    Quite right. My apologies.

    In regards to technology, I think the cell phone in itself would require a pretty major rewrite of countless stories

  10. #10
    Extraordinary Member Lightning Rider's Avatar
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    Interesting subject. I personally prefer when everyday technology is portrayed as least distinctively as possible so that the story is more timeless, but some innovations are unavoidable.

    One interesting moment that stood out to me was in Alex Ross's Justice, where Ralph Dibny is on a landline phone and stretches his head to accomodate the phone's chord. I thought to myself, there's a cool visual that wouldn't work with a cell-phone, and it was cool to include given the late Silver Age vibe the story was going for, even though it's a story created in modern times.

  11. #11
    Astonishing Member Tzigone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lightning Rider View Post
    Interesting subject. I personally prefer when everyday technology is portrayed as least distinctively as possible so that the story is more timeless, but some innovations are unavoidable.

    One interesting moment that stood out to me was in Alex Ross's Justice, where Ralph Dibny is on a landline phone and stretches his head to accomodate the phone's chord. I thought to myself, there's a cool visual that wouldn't work with a cell-phone, and it was cool to include given the late Silver Age vibe the story was going for, even though it's a story created in modern times.
    Now you've gotten me thinking about the Atom traveling over phone lines. Which really didn't make much sense, but frankly neither does flight for the non-winged, so I was fine with that. But time marches on and there's a lot more wireless communication now.

  12. #12
    Extraordinary Member Lightning Rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tzigone View Post
    Now you've gotten me thinking about the Atom traveling over phone lines. Which really didn't make much sense, but frankly neither does flight for the non-winged, so I was fine with that. But time marches on and there's a lot more wireless communication now.
    Good point - does he now jump into a cellphone and bounce into space off of a satellite and back? Or perhaps through undersea internet cables? Could be just as fun.

  13. #13
    Boisterously Confused
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tzigone View Post
    Now you've gotten me thinking about the Atom traveling over phone lines. Which really didn't make much sense, but frankly neither does flight for the non-winged, so I was fine with that. But time marches on and there's a lot more wireless communication now.
    In his late 80s series, The Atom got kind of messed up trying his phone-traveling gimmick because he got bounced off a couple of satellites.

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