When I was a kid, reading The Amazing Spider-man (ASM) for the first time, the story lines seemed the height of sophistication: so many plotlines, all those boring girls for Peter to fend off (I was only 10), and Aunt May ill again!
Recently I've been dusting off my collection of 1970's UK reprints, and couldn't resist the urge to read them again. Not surprisingly, I didn't find them quite as difficult to understand as before, but they're still exciting and great fun.
If you read the comics in a long sequence, the plotting does seem to get more complicated, as does the development of the villains and supporting characters. Supporting characters get higher billing and the action sometimes takes a backseat. I wanted to pin down these trends and went the number-crunching route: I started counting panels in each issue and feeding them through Microsoft Excel.
I looked at Spider-man's first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15, and almost all ASM issues up to and including issue #81. These cover August 1962 to February 1970.
I discovered some interesting trends, and even developed a few numerical measures which pick out unusual comics.
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