The Early History of Comic Books and Comic Strips – Who Started Them and Where Did They Start?
The Very First Comic Book
The first comic book was published by Rodolphe Topffer in 1837 in Switzerland and the title was “The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck”. This book was published in the United States in 1842 and it had 40 pages with several pictures on each page along with text underneath the pictures. Europeans continued to be leaders in comic book production when Wilhelm Bush of Germany published his comic in 1865 called “Max and Moritz”.
The First Comic Strip
However, in 1895 the first comic strip with balloons used for what the characters said was created by Richard Outcault. His strip was entitled “Yellow Kid” and he was later known as the Father of the American Sunday Comics.
During the early 1900’s comics and comic strips were quite popular in both magazines and newspapers. They were also funny so the newspaper comic strips were call “funnies”. These strips were sometimes republished in books and called comic books.
Original Comic Books
After a few years comic books began being published with original content. The creators usually provided much less expensive materials to the publishers than the comic reprints. The comic book creators were hoping their work would eventually be picked up for comic strips by the newspapers since that was where the good money was.
Superman Comic Book
The first big comic book was Superman by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. The success of this comic book with its hero dressed in a costume of tights and a cape contributed to the creation of many new hero comics especially during World War II. These comics included Captain America, Plastic Man, Flash, Green Lantern and others. By the 1950’s, however, only four remained and they were Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel.
The Death of Captain Marvel
Of the remaining four, Captain Marvel was the most popular. This clever character always had interesting adventure stories with lots of villains and action. But, in 1953 Captain Marvel ceased publication since the publishers of Superman had sued for copyright infringement and the expense of the court proceedings became too much.
With the superheroes losing popularity, a whole new genre of comics and comic books took over the market starting in the early 1950’s. Some of the new favorites included science fiction in outer space with Space Adventures and Mystery In Space. The jungle themed comics such as Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, became popular especially with the character wearing a leopard skin bikini. Talking animals grew popular with one of the first being Pogo starting as a comic book then becoming a comic strip.
Today most major newspapers carry a variety of comic strips that have provided entertainment to multiple generations.
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