Watchmen And The Dark Knight Returns Created The Graphic Novel In 1987
So why did Warner Brothers even take this gamble in the first place?
Well, two comic books with adult themes becoming bestselling books would be the reason. We all know this story since it’s so often discussed, but these two books started a process of comics being taken seriously and being seen as material for adults. It gave Moore and Miller a springboard to advocate for other comic artists: Miller in particular probably sold more reprints of The Spirit than Eisner did, in the ’80s.
That was the thing: Warners owned DC and as a result, they had the sales numbers. Batman comics were selling millions of copies… and selling them to adults.
But even that isn’t nearly as big a breakthrough as what was happening on TV.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Was One of The Most Successful Shows On The Air
In the nerd stereotype, Star Trek is integral: If your nerd isn’t wearing Spock ears, it’s because they don’t go with his gold shirt.
To Paramount, Star Trek let them pull off one of the biggest coups in the history of television.
The financial achievement Paramount put together on the back of Star Trek: The Next Generation is nothing short of staggering, so much so that it’s literally a case study in entertainment law and market economics. The Next Generation never aired in a specific time slot or day in any market, yet it commanded ratings that consistently crushed most network hits. Name a show that supposedly defines the late ’80s and early ’90s and it was probably beaten by TNG in the ratings.
The premiere alone was watched by 27 million people and right from the start, Paramount was making a 40% profit on every episode. And this was in 1987, when being a Trekkie was still supposedly a social disgrace.
More than the movies, this really emphasizes that arguing nerd culture was under the radar was a fallacy. It wasn’t. It was mainstream culture.
So enough with the noob arguments, OK? They’ve been around since the ’80s.