Why Iron Man: Crash Is Important To Modern Comic Creating

by Benjamin Hall

The narrative of the graphic novel Iron Man: Crash (1988) is not necessarily important. At least not as far as this article is concerned. Though it is important to note the publication date being in the late 1980s. This is key since creating sequential narratives with computers during this time period was still a new, and astoundingly complex, endeavor. Artist/writer Mike Saenz and producer/programmer WIlliam Bates even include supplemental material about their struggles making Iron Man: Crash. For example, they mention conceiving ways to configure panels in a way that saves on grunt work. One such method involved the program Lithographer and automating the building of pages via a utility in the program. Anyone familiar with photo manipulation programs might see the similarities to the more current program Adobe Photoshop CC.
Yet there are other innovations in Iron Man: Crash besides the similarities between past and modern programming. The first being the use of computers to letter work in a more complex, yet simplified manner. This is due to lettering comic books by hand being a (presumably) more difficult process to learn and execute. However, now it is common to use computers to change fonts, design logos, and create alien languages. Not to mention that one can, to one extent or another, translate whole bits of foreign dialogue whether they are a reader or a member of a creative team.
There is also the way in which this comic led the way for improvements in coloring. An example of such improvements is how creators use programs to enhance the size of images to digitally color certain selections. Also worth mentioning is how the methods Mike Saenz and Williams use when creating Iron Man: Crash act as a precursor. Without these methods we might not have had artists such as Adi Granov (Iron Man: Extremis [2007]) using the same styles when creating comics. In conclusion, we probably would not have as diverse a range of comics and creators if it weren’t for Mike Saenz, William Bates, and their editor Archie Goodwin.

Iron Man #5 (2006) Cover by Adi Granov

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