The first half of the 20th century: The Yellow Kid, set in a large single scene, not a narrative strip, was the first continuous comic character in the United States. Outcault established earthy, strictly urban farce as the keynote of the early American strip, which thereafter grew in sophistication and sentimentality.
The Yellow Kid also standardized the speech balloon, which had largely fallen into disuse since the 17th century and its occasional appearance in the English caricatural strip about In Rudolph Dirks , at the instigation of Hearst, who as a child had enjoyed the work of Busch, worked up a strip based on Max and Moritz, called the Katzenjammer Kids, which proved an instant success.
It survived in syndication into the 21st century, under its sixth author. The market-driven tendency to continue strips in their formula if not their spirit after the death of the original author s has given extraordinary longevity to many strips that should have died a natural death; most decline into prolonged senility before being finally scrapped.
Katzenjammer Kids had for the first time the fully developed form of the newspaper strip; i. The spread of comics to other newspapers was rapid and was aided by the development of newspaper syndication.
The strip was executed in fairy-tale illustration style, with a conscious display of colouristic effects. A musical based on the strip and called Little Nemo was produced in , and an animated cartoon by McCay followed in Mutt later Mutt and Jeff. At first set in a horse-racing milieu , it soon became a general interest comic.
During the years —20 most of the major categories of American comics were established, including the first aviation, ethnic character, and career girl strips.
It strove for realism rather than farcical effects and had a strict continuity as opposed to the daily gag , during which, moreover, characters actually grew older.
Another major group of the s was fantastic, satirical, and parodistic. Drawn with the greatest of graphic economy, it presented the absurd interrelationships of a tiny cast of characters basically three , using the thinnest imaginable plot line. Krazy Kat was the first newspaper strip anywhere to be aimed at relatively intellectual adults and to claim philosophical significance.
During the s the comics page expanded both in quantity of strips and in range of subject matter. Several of the strips created then survive today. Twenty-four Blondie films were made between and Krazy Kat—Bugologist , cartoon by George Herriman. A new category of immense significance emerged: This took many forms: The earliest adventure strip was Tarzan begun , whose Canadian-born creator Harold Foster broke completely with the prevailing caricatural style, adopted cinematic techniques, and sought picturesque, documentary realism.
No less concerned with classic aesthetic effects was Alex Raymond , first master of the exotic space strip Flash Gordon, begun An aggressively cinematic adventure strip, meticulously researched, was evolved by Milton Caniff in his Terry and the Pirates begun The demand for adventure stories spawned a new and highly lucrative vehicle for the comic strip: The first true comic books were marketed in as giveaway advertising premiums.
These had a 7. By such titles as Famous Funnies, Tip Top Comics, King Comics—at first chiefly reprints of newspaper strips and then with original stories—were selling in large quantities.
Specialization soon set in with Detective Comics begun and Action Comics begun Superman , which appeared first in Action Comics, was the creation of Jerry Siegel scenario or text and Joe Shuster art ; it was soon syndicated and transposed to other media.
The Superman formula of the hero who transcends all physical and social laws to punish the wicked was widely imitated. The animated cartoon animals of Walt Disney also took root in the comic book. World War II hastened the development of strips and comic books dealing with war and crime, the latter finding a new and avid readership among American soldiers stationed abroad.
Being outside the control of newspaper editors, the comic book became increasingly violent and gruesome. The industry responded by instituting systems of self- censorship , administered by several organizations; the more vicious-looking material was restrained, but in Europe some American adventure strips continued to be criticized for their pursuit of violence and for their racist, militarist, and fascist tendencies.
Perhaps as a reaction, there was a parallel postwar development in newspaper strips devoted to sentimental soap-opera-like domestic drama—such as Rex Morgan, M. Pogo —75 , by former Disney artist Walt Kelly , was the most cerebral , socially pointed, and self-reflective of all strips in the midth century, without sacrificing humour. Pogo exuded a tender, nostalgic air, perpetually ruffled by the breezes of sociopolitical allusion and rendered stormy with the caricature of Sen.
The literate strip with philosophical, psychological, and sociological overtones was the principal innovation of the later s. Schulz never used help in drawing , inking, or lettering a single design, as was the custom. The major strip of political satire , Feiffer by Jules Feiffer first appearing weekly in The Village Voice, , was run in the more liberal or left-wing papers; as a mainstream newspaper strip, it was consigned to the editorial rather than comics pages.
In Feiffer the dialogue was more important than the deliberately repetitive drawings, which never went beyond the human figure; the content played upon the logic-twisting, deceptive rhetoric of politicians and the neurotic relationships between social competitors and lovers. The text was fitted in below the balloonless pictures in order to facilitate reading aloud by adults.
In the juvenile market the outstanding British successes in the s were Dandy begun , with characters Desperate Dan and Keyhole Kate being perennial favourites, and the aforementioned The Beano, both of which offered innocent fun for younger children. For older children there was The Eagle —69 , with Dan Dare begun ; strip killed and relaunched a number of times, last in by Frank Hampson and the Rev.
At its peak Dan Dare reached a circulation of about one million weekly, but that figure had fallen to 20, by The cultural shift that occurred in the s can be measured by the success of an entirely different kind of comic, such as Viz begun , which, in a crude Beano-like style and in Beano parody, offered story lines complete with juvenile sex , profanity, and scatology to a market composed chiefly of males ages 18— Viz reached a peak audience of 1.
The first British adult newspaper strip—and, after Krazy Kat, the first daily strip anywhere designed exclusively for adults—was the witty Pop —60 , by John Millar Watt. For all its satire on the working class, Andy Capp, with its work-shy title character, surprisingly also ran in the Russian daily newspaper Izvestiya. It used an artful striptease theme and had great popularity with servicemen during World War II. The outright satirical and political strip flowered in the new satirical magazines such as Private Eye begun France had no daily comic strip until His work had been translated into all major languages and extensively merchandised.
Into the 21st century Tintin products flourished, especially on the Internet. The second half of the 20th century and beyond: The precursors of the great renewal of the medium were Mad magazine, founded in by Harvey Kurtzman , with its parodies of media and commercial visual stereotypes , and the parodistic-erotic acceptable only to the more liberal and vanguard press: Originally self-published and small-circulation experiments in rendering the new consciousness inflamed by the Vietnam War , they took as their subjects drugs, psychedelia, kinky sex, and mockery of and rage against authority.
One of the best-known comics producers was R. Crumb , who worked on a knife-edge between the grotesque and real, sexual extremism and social anxiety, the absurd and the philosophical.
Other figures from the underground were Rick Griffin, S. Clay Wilson, and Gilbert Shelton, whose sex-and-dope-hungry pseudo-revolutionary Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers begun circulated widely and has remained in print. The underground comics soon enjoyed aboveground popularity, and their effect was long-lasting, but as a coherent phenomenon they endured only one spectacular decade. In Europe an entirely different renewal was brewing: The influence worked both ways.
American art, particularly the Pop movement with Roy Lichtenstein , was profoundly affected from roughly by traditional American comic strip styles. Hitherto disdained as an essentially juvenile medium, the comics and by extension the lateth-century graphic novel, a self-contained novel-length treatment that is serious in content and coherent in plot rather than episodic; see below attained increasing academic respectability from the late s, within a wave of appreciation and concern for popular and youth culture generally.
The comics became firmly established as a major evolving aesthetic and communicative medium appealing to the intelligent adult, with many comics shedding their juvenile allure altogether. The sensationalist aesthetic ambitions of some comic books, in symbiosis with the animated cartoon and the more-advanced special effects in live-action movies, have led to new wine being poured into old wineskins.
The Dark Knight Returns c. Institutionalization When not self-published, as was often the case, the better comic book or comic strip compilations and graphic novels were marketed through mainstream bookstores and published by major publishers such as Penguin and Gollancz, as well as by smaller, specialized publishers, such as Fantagraphics and Kitchen Sink Press. Academic conferences since the first held in Lucca, Italy, in , multiplied, as did exhibitions. In addition, a number of Web sites were created that were devoted to the cartoon and the comic strip, including digital encyclopaedias and virtual museums.
The art of the comic strip was taught for the first time in major art schools notably the School of Visual Arts in New York and entered academic curricula. Scholarship on comic strips abounded, including historical, aesthetic, ideological, semiological especially in Europe , and philosophical approaches.
One of the greatest Disney artists of them all, Carl Barks, sole creator of more than of the best Donald Duck and other stories, was rescued from the oblivion to which the Disney policy of anonymity would consign him to become a cult figure. His Collected Works ran to 30 luxurious folio volumes. Especially in Europe, elite intellectuals such as Alain Robbe-Grillet , Umberto Eco , Roland Barthes , and Alain Resnais have validated the comics; in the United States, major filmmakers—notably George Lucas and Steven Spielberg —have acknowledged their artistic debt to comics, which they have used as both inspiration and source material.
At the turn of the 21st century, there were several hundred comics and cartoon sites on the Internet and many dozens of comics available online, offering current and classic strips, with simultaneous opportunity to buy them on merchandise or have them delivered daily by e-mail.
Archival links allowed users to access by date and subject any comic previously published in the series. Despite this easy access to the smaller formats, book-length graphic novels and comic strip anthologies sold in increasing numbers. The book format was more attractive to public and university libraries than the slim pamphletlike comic books that continued to be assiduously collected and preserved by private collectors, who paid four-figure sums for single issues at auctions for the classics and early, rare issues.
Its chief feature was Judge Dredd; written from a cynical perspective on American culture and the authoritarian state, the strip follows a quasi-fascist law enforcer in a post-nuclear-war world who rules Mega City One part New York City , part Thatcherite London. Compared with other comics, it was printed on better paper and was flashier in style, and it was made into a book as well as a film.
In popularity and quality, only the Italian comics creator Hugo Pratt, with his Corto Maltese begun , came close. The shift of artists and public toward the graphic novel may have been facilitated by a commercial crisis in the later s, when the traditional comic book lost sales and publishers collapsed.
Even the mighty Marvel group declared bankruptcy in , though it later revived. Shops were closed and titles canceled. This was connected to competition for the juvenile market from video and then computer games and the Internet.
Indeed, every major comics publisher now has an Internet site, and some comics appear only there. But the industry as a whole was much sustained beginning in the s by specialized shops—rather than newsstands—which now form the major outlet for comics. The didactic-communicative advantages of the text-and-image combination, and not least the humorous format, have been adopted for all kinds of educational, instructional, and even technical materials in the United States, Japan, and elsewhere.
The text naturally tends to become relatively significant without being totally dominant. In these works too the grid system of panel narrative is usually radically loosened or altogether abandoned. Such books have been welcomed into the classroom at all levels, from primary school to university. These graphic techniques have also been employed by the U.