iFanboy Mini Video Podcast

iFanboy Mini #79 – Asterisks in Comic Books

Show Notes

Want to know what S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for? When exactly did Tony Stark’s plane crash? How many issues ago did Iron Man’s armor malfunction? All of these questions and more used to be answered by the handy dandy asterisk which lead you to the editor’s note.

Nowadays, this old form of comic book citation has fallen by the wayside and gone the way of the thought balloon — seen as a quaint relic of a simpler time by the modern, jaded audience.

In today’s iFanboy Mini, Conor Kilpatrick reads some old comics and waxes nostalgic about the asterisk.


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  1. When I was 12, there was no more surefire way to get me on a new title than to refer to it in one I was reading.  I started with Thor, Iron Man, and Amazing Spider-Man, and soon enough I was reading Fantastic Four, Avengers, Uncanny X-men, Spectacular Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man, West Coast Avengers, Wolverine, She-Hulk, and so on, and they were all because of the connective tissue of those asterisks.  Now we have the web to do that, but back then, it was awesome.

  2. iFanboy is carrying on the grand tradition of the asterisk. Since this uppercase 8 has stopped pointing readers to different titles, thus ensnaring them in the grand tradition of comics, iFanboy has stepped up and taken on the role.  Carry on men of the asterisk….carry on!

  3. Great Mini, I was just thinking about this, when reading Final Crisis #2.

  4. The asterisk made me feel like the stories I was reading mattered; that there was this big story I was a part of now.  Even if I couldn’t find the issues, I still loved that there was a history behind everything.

    Sure, the web provides an incredible information source to readers, but I believe asterisks have a place in modern comics too.  Especially in something like Secret Invasion or Final Crisis.  Asterisks are a direct hyper-link between comics.

    I sometimes get annoyed that modern publishers feel that every issue must feel like a first issue, even though that is actually less possible now because of how stories are told.   11 year old me never cared about dropping into the middle of a story.  Half the fun was figuring out what was going on, and the asterisks and editor’s notes helped a lot with solving the mystery.

    For publishers, the huge trade market probably discourages the use of asterisks, but – if that’s really a problem – take them out for trade publications.  Comics are digital now, guys, and can be customised for different mediums.  But I, personally, would have no problem if one trade pointed me to a related story in another trade.

    I guess asterisks are old fashioned now, and only appropriate in deliberately retro books like Amazing Spider-Man.  But I have much love for the humble asterisk.

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