Some Curious Facts About Comic Books
Comic books are much older than you might think. In fact, some experts claim that certain Egyptian, Greek, or Roman wall paintings could fall into this category since they represent illustrated sequences using chains of vignettes. Certain pre-Columbian codices do the same, so they could also be included in this classification.
However, as a rule, strictly speaking, the first comic book was Velislav’s Bible. This manuscript dates from the 14th century and contains 747 illustrations representing the entire Old Testament. It was written to make it more accessible to the public since there were very few who knew how to read and write back then.
As a matter of fact, comic books seem to have a presence in almost all cultures. Indeed, the idea of narrating a story using sequential images has been present in different societies for a long time. Now, let’s mention a few more curious facts about the fascinating world of comic books.
“ The work we do is as demanding as any of the great painters because nothing that happens on the page of a comic is accidental. It has to be imagined first in your mind before you do it.”
Some curious facts about comic books
In the late 19th century, one of the first comic strips to be published in an American newspaper appeared in New York World, run by Joseph Pulitzer. The cartoon was entitled The Yellow Kid. It told the story of a street child. He was always dressed in yellow and waged his own small battle against the individualism and materialism of society.
The cartoon was controversial in New York society. Many felt unfairly attacked and thought that the newspaper was exaggerating and that reality wasn’t so cruel. From that moment on, the expressions, yellow journalism, and the yellow press began to be used to refer to the kind of media that seek an audience by arousing controversy.
The word comic book also has its origins in the United States. However, comic books are known throughout the world (sometimes under different names) and the industry is currently recognized as the ninth art. In fact, in some spheres, comic books are known as sequential art.
Without a doubt, the icon of comic superheroes is Superman. This character was created by Jerry Siegel, an American writer, and Joseph Shuster, a Canadian artist. Both lived in Cleveland, Ohio, and they completed the character in 1933. They offered the figure to many publishers, but no one was convinced that such a hero would work.
Finally, the company Detective Comics, Inc. took the risk and launched the character. They bought him for $130. The first cartoon came out in 1938 and became profitable in a really short time. Superman has since appeared in the press, radio, television, cinema, the Internet, and video games. Indeed, he’s more alive than ever, and is so important that the media consider every slight variation in his character as a newsworthy event.
Superman became the inspiration for many other superheroes. That said, after the Second World War, comic books stopped being so popular although Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman continued to attract a good number of readers.
Other curious facts about comic books
Speaking of World War II, the famous Captain America was born in 1941, right in the middle of the conflict. Interestingly, the first cover showed him hitting Adolf Hitler. This was an audacious move at the time, mixing fantasy and reality around an extremely socially sensitive subject.
Japanese comics are known in the West by the generic name of manga. In fact, they’ve gained a great deal of prominence in recent decades since both the characters and the stories have unique characteristics.
Although this art has existed since ancient times in Japan, it was relaunched to the world by Osamu Tezuka. He was a fan of the movie Bambi, which he saw 80 times. As a matter of fact, he was so obsessed with the little deer that he gave all the characters in Astroboy, the first successful manga, extremely big eyes. Since then, this trait has been maintained in these types of comics.
Speaking of manga, the best-selling in history is One Piece, although most people would probably think that Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z are more famous. The longest series of manga comics is Sazae-San. It’s been continuously broadcast in Japan since 1969. There have been more than 1,700 episodes. This is the world of comics: fantastic whichever way you look at it.
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- Gubern Garriga-Nogués, R. (2014). De los cómics a la cinematografía. Espacio, tiempo y forma. Serie V, Historia contemporánea, 26, 377-399.
- Neville, J. F. (1990). The Yellow Kids: Foreign Correspondents in the Heyday of Yellow Journalism: By Joyce Milton. Harper and Row, 1989, 412pp. $22.95, Cloth.