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Comics: A History. What is a comic?.
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What is a comic? • It is an impossible task to define what a comic book is. For some, it is any image drawn in a certain cartoony style; for others, it is any combination of image and text (this can include anything from children’s books to airline flight safety cards). Some consider any sequence of images like cave paintings or Medieval tapestries as comics; while others associate the medium with the genres of humor or fantasy.
Another name for a comic book (or the combination of words and text to tell a story) is “graphic novel.” This name better suits the newer types of comic books because most are not comedic in nature, but are thrillers or adventure stories.
The search for new graphic/visual communication and expression led to the development of the genre • Beginning with hieroglyphics and prehistoric cave drawings- these can be considered the first comics • 1st true comic: Richard Fenton Outcalt’s The Yellow Kidin 1896. He was the first to use the speech balloons. • Most of the first comics were humorous, thus the name COMIC Books. They were often about animals or children. • The crash of the Stock Market in 1929 was a turning point; in the 1930s, comic books began to picture adventures. Ex. Flash Gordon, Dick Tracy, and Tarzan. • There were three essential types: science fiction, detective, and jungle adventure
The typical American comic was born… Superhero comics! *Superman is the landmark for the golden age of comics. He is the archetype for most modern characters. • Between 1940-1945, four hundred superheroes were created: Batman, Captain Marvel, etc.
During WW II, many comics dealt with the subject matter and were used as a way to increase support for the military and the country. Ex. Captain America. • In the 40s, the magazine form was created. • In the 50s, a witch hunt occurred when Frederic Wertham wrote the book The Seduction of the Innocent about the comics causing adolescent delinquency, inciting violence, etc. *A Comics Code was created to limit what could/could not appear in print. It destroyed many titles including all horror comics *Peanuts was created during this time.
In the 60s, Superheroes were brought back with Stan Lee’s Marvel Comic Books—Spider-Man, X-Men, etc. • There has been much growth since then. Many comics have been made into TV cartoons and movies. • X-Men movie trilogy • Spiderman • Batman • Superman • The Punisher • Elecktra • Blade • Daredevil • Catwoman • Sin City • Through a Scanner Darkly • Watchmen