If you ask comic book fans about the various genres active, many readerís first responses might be the superhero genre. This could especially be true for younger fans. This is because the superhero genre has been the reigning king of comics for most of its existence. With that said, the following statements are from the standpoint of the history of comics in America.
Comic books are similar to other forms of entertainment media in that there are many genres involved and can be different because of how they are intertwined and utilized. A concept that may be unique to comic books is that genres tend to hit in phases and are officially categorized in ages, golden, silver, and modern, etc.
The superhero genre, depending on who you ask, may or may not be exclusive in that originated in comics and then spread to other entertainment. Thatís very reasonable, considering that the comic is essentially the cousin of the novel, which predates other forms of media. In terms of film and television, there has been a steady increase in superhero movies and television programs within the last 12-13 years. Major news outlets have given heavy notice to these as well. This mainstream attention has brought in new readers to the characters in those movies as well as other comics. This is not exclusive to caped characters however, as many non-superhero tales have made their way to the big screen as well as the small screen.
While the superhero genre may be the most popular, there are arguments that it may be the cause of some problems with comic books. It has been said that there are too many superhero titles available and some people believe thatís why readership has dropped. Itís a difficult issue because many readers enjoy superhero books and companies will keep producing those books as long as theyíre being purchased.
Second to superheroes would have to be science fiction books. Sometimes the two have actually gone hand in hand. The themes represented in one have been often shared by the other. Science fiction has been adored in many forms of entertainment for decades. These fantastic tales spark the imaginations of readers allowing them to wonder about the possibilities of not only this world, but beyond.
Similar to modern cinema, action and adventure are big draws for many readers. It differs in that with respect to comic books, it is not so clearly defined because for the most part, it has been combined with other genres. These have typically included the two previously mentioned types as well as war, crime, and western stories.
Tales focused on war, crime, and westerns have been published extensively in American comic book history. The crime genre however, has probably enjoyed the most success. Crime stories have been given a noir twist and have even been tied together with superheroes making for a very interesting combination. Detective stories are very likely to stick around for some time.
The horror genre has been very popular in comics. Horror books have been around for sometime as well, but its rate of publication has dropped in and out at times. Vampires and zombies particularly, amongst other creatures and monsters of course, have been a steady feature for horror comics. With the unique style that exists in comics, readers have much to look forward too when they want their scares.
Humor and romance comics were marketed toward children and women respectively. They both have held their trendy periods in the past, but they arenít produced as much in modern times. These two were quite popular in a time when the superhero genre had died down for a time.
Fantasy tales exist as another staple in comics. Timeless characters and stories, they have been given the comic treatment in recent years as there are numerous fans of both styles. The history and style of fantasy storytelling allows for an easy transition to comic books. Similar to science fiction, the realm of fantasy shares many common elements with superhero stories.
There is some genre blending in comics and sometimes things are interpreted differently depending on the reader. Yet, there is very likely something out there for everybody. Some of the same ideas and concepts that pull people into other forms of media exist in comics, but are done with a distinctive touch.