4CP: Four Color Process adventures deep inside the comic book
From the 1940s to the 1970s, comic book art and comic books were the same thing. In the decades since, the art of comics has been carefully separated from the original physical conditions of its reproduction. Elevation of the 20th century art form has resulted in the erasure of the 20th century mechanical processes that enabled comic books to exist and thrive – for ten, twelve, fifteen, or twenty cents, millions of times over.
It was an economic bargain that significantly defined the aesthetic terms of comic books: cheap paper, cheap printing, and four-color separations that could not hide their limitations. These accidental aesthetics governed the experience of comics for generations, were appropriated for fine art in the 1960s, and today fall into the “retro” category of graphic design.