The History of Comic Books

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A comic book is a representation of a story via pictures and dialogues. Comic books and moving stories have been around since the dawn of the humanity. Sequential stories highlighted the victories of men and depicted the gods or political changes and been the ideals for generations. Cave drawings were the first evidence of drawn stories.

cave art

Egyptians started this culture by drawing their gods and kings over the walls, and then the Greeks came with their grandeur tales of the gods. All of their traditions were moralized in painting and sculptures. In the sixteenth century, the World’s largest sequential story was finished on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, Italy, by Michael Angelo. This painting told the stories from the Bible depicting life, creation and heaven. Political cartoon were first debuted by a British cartoonist which depicted the American rebellion, which was followed by a popular cartoon “Join or Die” by Benjamin Franklin. Publishing works in the newspapers became very popular in America giving way to such stories.  OldBuck and The Yellow Kid in 1897 which were the first continuously published comic stories.

Prior to the comic books that we see these days, pulps were popular. This goes 100 years back into the past. Each of the pulps cost 10 cents and were usually available at the newspaper stores, small stalls etc. The characters of the pulps weren’t superheroes, but they had their own fan following. Popeye the Sailorman is one such example. Popeye was famous for his incredible arm strength which he developed after eating spinach. In the line of superheroes at the age of pulps, next came the Phantom. The phantom didn’t have any supernatural powers. Bravery and strength were his main tools which he used to fight against crime.


Political cartoons still exist in the newspapers today. Soon comics exploded into the world of newspapers becoming weekly, and then daily editions of the paper. Easily the most iconic of this is The Peanuts which kicked off other comic book legends like Archie, Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes. The first female published comic series was Brenda Star in the 1940s speaking volumes to the art forms with the ability to relate to everyone. By the 1950s, comic strip humour had become staple with the American humour magazine Mad.


Superheroes in the world of comic strips were the first ones which were not meant for humour. After the horrors of the World War I and in the middle of the great depressions, society once again needed heroes. America’s youth needed inspiration which came in the form of an all-powerful man of steel in 1938. Superman was the first of those iconic superheroes with absolute powers and soon become the ideal of everyone. He was introduced first upon a comic book in a blue costume, lifting a car overhead. Superman could move with the speed of light and he could defy bullets from his chest.


With the influx of crime from the great depression and the overbearing frictional greatness of the superman, debut the resourceful and intuitive batman. Unlike his predecessors, Batman had no human powers but rather represented justice with his brilliance and strength. Going by the alter ego Bruce Wayne, a Gotham city based rich businessman, Batman was popular because people could see him as a real life character. No magical powers, though he used advanced technologies to equip himself with the latest gadgets that helped him to fight with the evil. From so many idols, WonderWoman emerged as a strong heroine to guide the girls of America.


Debuting in the heart of the cold war and some other global conflicts, the Justice League became the mere example of using force to create peaceful resolutions and using the powers of the world to unite the world, the Ultimate United Nations.

When the world began moving towards another war, the appearance of superheroes dramatically increased. The American patriotism became embodied by Captain America. His mighty shield supported the firing America and gave a new face to the warfare.

After the dropping of two nuclear bombs at the conclusion of the World War II, comic books began to incorporate nuclear phenomenon as an explanation for the superpowers. Two good examples are Spiderman who was bitten by a radioactive spider and the Hulk that was involved in a nuclear accident. Nuclear diplomacy remained in the theme of comic books generally serving as the major crisis.

iron man

Technology is a destructive global force led to the creation of Iron Man. It attempted to display technology as a source for justice, if properly controlled rather than violence.

Graphic novels became to receive more recognition when in 1986, both Watchman and Mouse were recognized as the top 10 works of the literature of the year.

In Japan, there was an own form of comics called Manga featuring their own stories and superheroes. The first hero of Japan was called Astroboy. A cast of Dragonball Z became the Japanese equivalent of the Justice League. Manga includes a wide range of genres for its audience including action, drama, sports, adventure, sci-fi, horror, sexuality and many more. It became so popular that certain series were made for adults too such as Neon Genesis Evangelion.


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