Comics: An Insight

Young or old, everybody loves a well-illustrated and well written comic. So, today I will explain a little how comics came into fashion, and how they evolved over the years. But first, I must answer a very important question, what is a comic?

Garfield by Jim Davis

A comic strip is a series of cartoons that tell a story. It’s almost like a movie, except in pictures. Each picture with dialogues is called a frame. A comic can be of any number of frames. Most are three to four frames.

Now, there are three types of comics: -

1) Gag-a-Day Comics are comics that are three to four panels per joke. They usually appear in the newspaper. Some examples of gag-a-day comics are Garfield and Peanuts. These comics can be read in any order as they are not really connected.

2) Sunday Comics only appear in the Sunday newspaper. They are mostly supposed to be read in order, but some can be read in any order.

3) Comic Books/Novels I think the name is quite self-explanatory. These comics are in book form and have many, many panels. Some examples are Tintin and Asterix.

History of Comics

Around the end of the nineteenth century, the first few comics began appearing in the United States of America. It was around this time that two powerful newspaper publishers, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, were competing with each other to see who could get more readers and money for their newspapers. In 1893, Hearst took a giant risk and tried running a comic strip in his San Francisco Examiner called The Little Bears, drawn by artist James Swinnerton. And it paid off. The comic was a big hit!

Not to be outdone, Joseph printed the first colour comic in 1895, called The Yellow Kid, drawn by Richard F. Outcault. It was also wildly successful.

A few years later, Rudolph Dirks debuted The Katzenjammer Kids in another Hearst owned paper. This comic was the first to use speech balloons.

And that’s the birth of comics. Read on to find out how comics evolved through the years.

As the years passed, comics grew incredibly popular- as popular as movies are today. Although Chic Young’s Blondie or Elzie C. Segar’s Popeye were comedies, at the beginning of the twentieth century, comics started to use more drama than comedy.

Gasoline Alley by Frank King became the first family-oriented soap-opera strip in 1918. Dick Tracy, a violent detective comic by Chester Gould, debuted in 1931, Lee Falk created The Phantom, a fantasy adventure strip, in 1936, and Hal Foster’s epic adventure story, Prince Valiant, started in 1937.

Charlie Schulz’s Peanuts

Until the mid-twentieth century, comics didn’t use a lot of humour. In 1950, Charlie Schulz’s Peanuts began to run in the U.S., and it quickly became one of the most popular and loved comic strips ever. Eventually, it had over 355 million readers! Peanuts paved the way for many of the comics to follow. Comics like Garfield, Doonesbury, Foxtrot, Calvin and Hobbes, and For Better or For Worse all use comedy to tell their daily stories.

It’s hard to imagine that comics’ fame all started between a little rivalry between two newspaper publishers. Nowadays, people worldwide are reading many different types of comics. I hope you enjoyed reading this article, but for now, this is the end.



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Samarjai Mitra

Samarjai Mitra


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