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The History of Comic Books

Richard Outcault's Yellow Kid was the first comic strip to use balloons.


Youngs Boy Reading In Book Shop
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According to many experts, the precursors to modern comics were the satirical works of artists like Rudolph Töpffer, Wilhelm Bush, Christophe, or Angelo Agostini (first Brazilian comic artist).

Rudolph Töpffer - Birth of the Graphic Novel

In 1827, Switzerland's Rudolphe Töpffer created a comic strip and continued on to publish seven graphic novels. In 1837, "The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck" was published by Rudolphe Töpffer and it is considered the earliest known comic book. In 1842, "The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck" became the first comic book published in the United States. "Obadiah Oldbuck" was a forty page book. Each page had several picture panels with accompanying text underneath.

Wilhelm Bush

In 1859, German poet and artist, Wilhelm Bush published caricatures in the newspaper Fliegende Blätter. In 1865, he published a famous comic called "Max und Moritz".

Yellow Kid

The 1895 "Yellow Kid" created by Richard Outcault has often been cited as being the first comic strip. The reason being is that Richard Outcault was the first artist to use the balloon, an outlined space on the page where what the characters spoke was written. However, comic strips and comic books were published before "Yellow Kid" debuted in the New York City newspaper "The World".

Are Comic Books Funny?

Around 1900, the terms "comics" and "comic strip" came into common use in the United States. Where did the word come from? The strips of pictures being printed in magazines and newspapers at that time were all funny or comic. At first newspaper comic strips were called "the funnies" and later the term comics became more popular. Early American comic books were often collections of reprints of newspaper comic strips.

Brenda Starr

On June 19, 1940, "Brenda Starr" the first cartoon strip written by a woman was published in Chicago.

Mad Magazine

American publisher, William Gaines started Mad magazine in 1952, a popular and satirical monthly comic book.

A Tidbit of Comic Book History

In 1754, Benjamin Franklin created the first editorial cartoon published in an American newspaper. Franklin's cartoon was an illustration of a snake with a severed head and had the printed words "Join, or Die." The cartoon was intended to goad the different colonies into joining what was to become the United States.

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