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Comic book - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Comic book
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A comic book or comicbook,[1] also called comic magazine or simply comic, is a publication, first
popularized in the United States, of comics art in the form of sequential juxtaposed panels that represent
individual scenes. Panels are often accompanied by brief descriptive prose and written narrative, usually
dialog contained in word balloons emblematic of the comics art form. The first comic book appeared in the
United States in 1933 and was a reprinting of earlier newspaper comic strips which had established many of
the story-telling devices used in comics. The term comic book arose because the first book sold as a comic
book reprinted humor comic strips.[2] Despite their name, comic books are not necessarily humorous in tone,
and feature stories in all genres.

1 American comic books
1.1 Underground comic books
1.2 Alternative comics
1.3 Graphic novels
1.4 Digital graphic novels
1.5 Comic book collecting
2 European comics
2.1 Franco-Belgian comics
2.2 British comics
2.3 Italian comics
3 Japanese comics (manga)
3.1 Doujinshi
4 Distribution
4.1 Digital distribution
5 See also
6 References
7 Further reading
8 External links

American comic books

Main article: American comic book
Since the introduction of the comic book format in 1933 with the publication of Famous Funnies, the United
States has produced the most titles, along with British comics and Japanese manga, in terms of quantity of
titles.[citation needed]
Cultural historians divide the career of the comic book in the U.S. into several ages or historical
eras:[citation needed]


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Comic book historians continue to debate the exact boundaries of these eras, but they have come to an
agreement, the terms for which originated in the fan press. Comics as a print medium have existed in
America since the printing of The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck in 1842 in hardcover, making it the first
known American prototype comic book. The introduction of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's Superman in
1938 turned comic books into a major industry,[3] and is the start of the Golden Age of comics. Historians
have proposed several names for the Age before Superman, most commonly dubbing it the Platinum Age.[4]
During that time, the G. W. Dillingham Company published the first
known proto-comic-book magazine in the U.S., The Yellow Kid in
McFadden's Flats, in 1897. It reprinted material primarily the
October 18, 1896 to January 10, 1897 sequence titled "McFadden's
Row of Flats" from cartoonist Richard F. Outcault's newspaper
comic strip Hogan's Alley, starring the Yellow Kid, the lead
character. The 196-page, square-bound, black-and-white publication,
which also includes introductory text by E. W. Townsend, measured
57 inches and sold for 50 cents. The neologism "comic book"
appears on the back cover. Despite the publication of a series of
related Hearst comics soon afterward,[4] the first monthly comic
book, Embee Distributing Company's Comic Monthly, did not appear
until 1922. Produced in an 8-by-9-inch format, it reprinted blackand-white newspaper comic strips and lasted a year.[4][5]
It was not until the Golden Age that the archetype of the superhero
would originate.
The Silver Age of comic books is generally considered to date from
the first successful revival of the dormant superhero formthe debut
of Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino's Flash in Showcase #4
(Oct. 1956).[6][7] The Silver Age lasted through the late 1960s or
early 1970s, during which time Marvel Comics revolutionized the
medium with such naturalistic superheroes as Stan Lee and Jack
Kirby's Fantastic Four and Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's Spider-Man.

Rulah, Jungle Goddess No. 24 (March

1949): An example of a nonsuperhero jungle-girl character. Cover
artist(s) unknown.

The precise beginnings of the Bronze and Copper Ages remain less well-defined. Suggested starting points
for the Bronze Age of comics include Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith's Conan No. 1 (October
1970), Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams' Green Lantern/Green Arrow No. 76 (April 1970), or Stan Lee and
Gil Kane's The Amazing Spider-Man No. 96 (May 1971; the non-Comics Code issue). The start of the
Copper Age (apprx. 19842000) has even more potential starting points, but is generally agreed to be the
publication of Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore's Watchmen by DC Comics
in 1986, as well as the publication of DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths, written by Marv Wolfman with pencils
by George Prez.
A notable event in the history of the American comic book came with the psychiatrist Fredric Wertham's
criticisms of the medium in his book Seduction of the Innocent (1954), which prompted the American
Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency to investigate comic books. In response to attention from the
government and from the media, the U.S. comic book industry set up the Comics Code Authority in 1954
and drafted the "Comics Code" in the same year.


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Underground comic books

Main article: Underground comix
In the early 1970s a surge of creativity emerged in what became
known as underground comics. Published and distributed
independently of the established comics industry, most of such
comics reflected the youth counterculture and drug culture of the
time. Many had an uninhibited, often irreverent style; their frank
depictions of nudity, sex, profanity, and politics had no parallel
outside their precursors, the pornographic and even more obscure
"Tijuana bibles". Underground comics were almost never sold at
news stands, but rather in such youth-oriented outlets as head shops
and record stores, as well as by mail order.
Frank Stack's The Adventures of Jesus, published under the name
Foolbert Sturgeon,[8][9] has been credited as the first underground

Adventures into Darkness: Horror


Alternative comics
Main article: Alternative comics
The rise of comic book specialty stores in the late 1970s created/paralleled a dedicated market for
"independent" or "alternative comics" in the U.S. The first such comics included the anthology series Star
Reach, published by comic-book writer Mike Friedrich from 1974 to 1979, and Harvey Pekar's American
Splendor, which continued sporadic publication into the 21st century and which Shari Springer Berman and
Robert Pulcini adapted into a 2003 film. Some independent comics continued in the tradition of underground
comics, though their content generally remained less explicit; others resembled the output of mainstream
publishers in format and genre but were published by smaller artist-owned companies or by single artists. A
few (notably RAW) represented experimental attempts to bring comics closer to the status of fine art.
During the 1970s the "small press" culture grew and diversified. By the 1980s, several independent
publishers - such as Pacific, Eclipse, First, Comico, and Fantagraphics - had started releasing a wide range
of styles and formatsfrom color-superhero, detective, and science-fiction comic books to black-and-white
magazine-format stories of Latin American magical realism.
A number of small publishers in the 1990s changed the format and distribution of their comics to more
closely resemble non-comics publishing. The "minicomics" form, an extremely informal version of selfpublishing, arose in the 1980s and became increasingly popular among artists in the 1990s,[citation needed]
despite reaching an even more limited audience than the small press.
Small publishers regularly releasing titles include Avatar Comics, Hyperwerks, Raytoons, and Terminal
Press, buoyed by such advances in printing technology as digital print-on-demand.

Graphic novels
Main article: Graphic novel

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In 1964, Richard Kyle coined the term "graphic novel" to distinguish newly translated European works from
genre-driven subject matter common in American comics. Precursors of the form existed by the 1920s,
which saw a revival of the medieval woodcut tradition by Belgian Frans Masereel,[10] American Lynd Ward
and others. In 1950, St. John Publications produced the digest-sized, adult-oriented "picture novel" It
Rhymes with Lust, a 128-page digest by pseudonymous writer "Drake Waller" (Arnold Drake and Leslie
Waller), penciler Matt Baker and inker Ray Osrin, touted as "an original full-length novel" on its cover. In
1971, writer-artist Gil Kane and collaborators devised the paperback "comics novel" Blackmark. Will Eisner
popularized the term "graphic novel" when he used it on the cover of the paperback edition of his work A
Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories in 1978.

Digital graphic novels

See also: Digital comics

Comic book collecting

Main article: Comic book collecting
Some rare comic books include copies of the unreleased Motion Picture Funnies Weekly No. 1 from 1939.
Eight copies, plus one without a cover, emerged in the estate of the deceased publisher in 1974. The "Pay
Copy" of this book sold for $43,125 in a 2005 Heritage auction.[11]
The most valuable American comics have combined rarity and quality with the first appearances of popular
and enduring characters. Four comic books to have sold for over $1 million USD as of December 2010,
including two examples of Action Comics No. 1, the first appearance of Superman,[12][13] both sold
privately through online dealer ComicConnect.com in 2010, and Detective Comics No. 27, the first
appearance of Batman, via public auction.
Updating the above price obtained for Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman, the highest sale
on record for this book is $2.16 million, for a 9.0 copy.[14]
Misprints, promotional comic-dealer incentive printings, and similar issues with extremely low distribution
also generally have scarcity value. The rarest modern comic books include the original press run of The
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen No. 5, which DC executive Paul Levitz recalled and pulped due to the
appearance of a vintage Victorian era advertisement for "Marvel Douche", which the publisher considered
offensive;[15] only 100 copies exist, most of which have been CGC graded. (See Recalled comics for more
pulped, recalled, and erroneous comics.)
In 2000, a company named CGC began to "slab" comics, encasing them in a thick plastic and giving them a
numeric grade.

European comics
Main article: European comics

Franco-Belgian comics


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Main article: Franco-Belgian comics

France and Belgium have a long tradition in comics and comic books,
called BDs (an abbreviation of bande dessines) in French and strips in
Dutch. Belgian comic books originally written in Dutch show the
influence of the Francophone "Franco-Belgian" comics, but have their
own distinct style.
The name la bande dessine derives from the original description of the
art form as drawn strips (the phrase literally translates as "the drawn
strip"), analogous to the sequence of images in a film strip. As in its
English equivalent, the word "bande" can be applied to both film and
comics. Significantly, the French-language term contains no indication
of subject-matter, unlike the American terms "comics" and "funnies",
which imply an art form not to be taken seriously. The distinction of
comics as le neuvime art (literally, "the ninth art") is prevalent in
French scholarship on the form, as is the concept of comics criticism
and scholarship itself. Relative to the respective size of their
populations, the innumerable authors in France and Belgium publish a
high volume of comic books. In North America, the more serious
Franco-Belgian comics are often seen as equivalent to graphic novels,
but whether they are long or short, bound or in magazine format, in
Europe there is no need for a more sophisticated term, as the art's name
does not itself imply something frivolous.

Ren Goscinny (1926 1977),

writer of the Astrix comic book

In France, authors control the publication of most comics. The author works within a self-appointed timeframe, and it is common for readers to wait six months or as long as two years between installments. Most
books first appear in print as a hardcover book, typically with 48, 56, or 64 pages.

British comics
Main article: British comics
Originally the same size as a usual comic book in the U.S. (although lacking the glossy cover), the British
comic has adopted a magazine size, with The Beano and The Dandy the last to adopt this size (in the 1980s).
Although the British generally speak of "a comic" or of "a comic magazine", and they also historically spoke
of "a comic paper".[citation needed] Some comics, such as Judge Dredd and other 2000 AD titles, have been
published in a tabloid form.
Although Ally Sloper's Half Holiday (1884), the first comic published in Britain, was aimed at an adult
market, publishers quickly targeted a younger market, which has led to most publications being for children
and created an association in the public's mind of comics as somewhat juvenile.
Popular titles within the UK have included The Beano, The Dandy, The Eagle, 2000 AD, and Viz.
Underground comics and "small press" titles have also been published within the UK, notably Oz and
Escape Magazine.


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The content of Action, another title aimed at children and launched in

the mid-1970s, became the subject of discussion in the House of
Commons. Although on a smaller scale than similar investigations in
the U.S., such concerns led to a moderation of content published
within British comics. Such moderation never became formalized to
the extent of promulgating a code, nor did it last long.
The UK has also established a healthy market in the reprinting and
repackaging of material, notably material originating in the U.S. The
lack of reliable supplies of American comic books led to a variety of
black-and-white reprints, including Marvel's monster comics of the
1950s, Fawcett's Captain Marvel, and other characters such as
Sheena, Mandrake the Magician, and the Phantom. Several reprint
companies were involved in repackaging American material for the
British market, notably the importer and distributor Thorpe & Porter.
Marvel Comics established a UK office in 1972. DC Comics and
Dark Horse Comics also opened offices in the 1990s. The
repackaging of European material has occurred less frequently,
although The Adventures of Tintin and Asterix serials have been
successfully translated and repackaged in softcover books.

Judge Dredd is a British-Americanmade comic about "Dredd" who is an

American law enforcement officer in
a violent city of the future where
uniformed Judges combine the
powers of police, judge, jury and

At Christmas time, publishers repackage and commission material

for comic annuals, printed and bound as hardcover A4-size books;
Rupert supplies a famous example of the British comic annual. DC Thomson also repackages The Broons
and Oor Wullie strips in softcover A4-size books for the holiday season.
On 19 March 2012, the British postal service, the Royal Mail, released a set of stamps depicting British
comic-book characters and series.[16] The collection featured The Beano, The Dandy, Eagle, The Topper,
Roy of the Rovers, Bunty, Buster, Valiant, Twinkle and 2000 AD.

Italian comics
Main article: Italian comics
In Italy, comics (known in Italian as fumetti) made their debut as humor strips at the end of the 19th century,
and later evolved into adventure stories. After World War II, however, artists like Hugo Pratt and Guido
Crepax exposed Italian comics to an international audience. Popular comic books such as Diabolik or the
Bonelli linenamely Tex Willer or Dylan Dogremain best-sellers.
Mainstream comics are usually published on a monthly basis, in a black-and-white digest size format, with
approximately 100 to 132 pages. Collections of classic material for the most famous characters, usually with
more than 200 pages, are also common. Author comics are published in the French BD format, with an
example being Pratt's Corto Maltese.
Italian cartoonists show the influence of comics from other countries, including France, Belgium, Spain, and
Argentina. Italy is also famous for being one of the foremost producers of Walt Disney comic stories outside
the U.S. Donald Duck's superhero alter ego, Paperinik, known in English as Superduck, was created in Italy.


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Japanese comics (manga)

Main article: Manga
The first comic books in Japan appeared during the 18th century in the form of
woodblock-printed booklets containing short stories drawn from folk tales,
legends, and historical accounts, told in a simple visual-verbal idiom. Known as
"red books" ( akahon), "black books" ( kurobon), and "blue books"
( aohon), these were written primarily for less literate readers. However,
with the publication in 1775 of Koikawa Harumachi's comic book Master
Flashgold's Splendiferous Dream ( Kinkin sensei eiga no
yume), an adult form of comic book originated, which required greater literacy
and cultural sophistication. This was known as the kibyshi ( ? , lit.
yellow cover). Published in thousands of copies, the kibyshi may have been the
earliest fully realized comic book for adults in world literary history.
Approximately 2,000 titles remain extant.

Hugo Pratt (1927

1995), author of the
Corto Maltese comic
book series.

Modern comic books in Japan developed from a mixture of these earlier comic books and of woodblock
prints ukiyo-e () with Western styles of drawing. They took their current form shortly after World
War II. They are usually published in black-and-white, except for the covers, which are usually printed in
four colors, although occasionally, the first few pages may also be printed in full color. The term manga
means "random (or whimsical) pictures", and first came into common usage in the late 18th century with the
publication of such works as Sant Kyden's picturebook Shiji no yukikai () (1798) and Aikawa
Minwa's Comic Sketches of a Hundred Women (1798). During the Meiji period, the term Akahon was also
Western artists were brought over to teach their students such concepts as line, form, and color; things which
had not been regarded as conceptually important in ukiyo-e, as the idea behind the picture was of paramount
importance. Manga at this time was referred to as Ponchi-e (Punch-picture) and, like its British counterpart
Punch magazine, mainly depicted humor and political satire in short one- or four-picture format.
Dr. Osamu Tezuka (19281989) further developed this form. Seeing an animated war propaganda film titled
Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors ( Momotar Umi no Shinpei) inspired Tezuka to become
a comic artist. He introduced episodic storytelling and character development in comic format, in which
each story is part of larger story arc. The only text in Tezuka's comics was the characters' dialogue and this
further lent his comics a cinematic quality. Inspired by the work of Walt Disney, Tezuka also adopted a style
of drawing facial features in which a character's eyes, nose, and mouth are drawn in an extremely
exaggerated manner. This style created immediately recognizable expressions using very few lines, and the
simplicity of this style allowed Tezuka to be prolific. Tezuka's work generated new interest in the ukiyo-e
tradition, in which the image is a representation of an idea, rather than a depiction of reality.
Though a close equivalent to the American comic book, manga has historically held a more important place
in Japanese culture than comics have in American culture. Japanese society shows a wide respect for manga,
both as an art form and as a form of popular literature. Many manga become television shows or short films.
As with its American counterpart, some manga has been criticized for its sexuality and violence, although in
the absence of official or even industry restrictions on content, artists have freely created manga for every
age group and for every topic.


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Manga magazinesalso known as "anthologies"often run several series concurrently, with approximately
20 to 40 pages allocated to each series per issue. These magazines range from 200 to more than 850 pages
each. Manga magazines also contain one-shot comics and a variety of four-panel yonkoma (equivalent to
comic strips). Manga series may continue for many years if they are successful, with stories often collected
and reprinted in book-sized volumes called tankbon ( ? , lit. stand-alone book), the equivalent of the
American trade paperbacks. These volumes use higher-quality paper and are useful to readers who want to
be brought up to date with a series, or to readers who find the cost of the weekly or monthly publications to
be prohibitive. Deluxe versions are printed as commemorative or collectible editions. Conversely, old manga
titles are also reprinted using lower-quality paper and sold for 120 (approximately $1 USD) each.

Main article: Doujinshi
Doujinshi ( ? , lit. fan magazine), fan-made Japanese comics operate in a far larger market in Japan
than the American "underground comics" market; the largest doujinshi fair, Comiket, attracts 500,000
visitors twice a year.

Distribution has historically been a problem for the comic book industry with many mainstream retailers
declining to carry extensive stocks of the most interesting and popular comics. The smart phone and the
tablet computer, however, have turned out to be an ideal medium for online distribution.[17]

Digital distribution
Marvel Comics launched Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, a subscription service allowing readers to read
many comics from Marvel's history online, on November 13, 2007. The service also includes periodic
release new comics not available elsewhere. With the release of Avenging Spider-Man Marvel also became
the first publisher to provide free digital copies as part of the print copy of the comic book.[18]
With growing the popularity of smart phones and tablet computers, particularly Apple's iPhone and iPad,
many major publishers have begun releasing titles in digital form. Some of the most popular platforms for
such release are Graphicly and comiXology.

See also
Comics Studies
Comics vocabulary
Digital comics
Comic book therapy

1. ^ "Previous Winners" (http://www.eagleawards.co.uk/category/previous-winners/). The Eagle Awards. Retrieved 3

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1. ^ "Previous Winners" (http://www.eagleawards.co.uk/category/previous-winners/). The Eagle Awards. Retrieved 3

October 2010.
2. ^ http://www.randomhistory.com/1-50/033comic.html
3. ^ Goulart, Ron (1 June 2000). Comic Book Culture: An Illustrated History. Collectors Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-1888054-38-5.
4. ^ a b c Coville, Jamie. "The History of Comic Books: Introduction and "The Platinum Age 18971938""
(http://www.thecomicbooks.com/old/Platinum.html). TheComicBooks.com, n.d. Archive of original page
(http://web.archive.org/web/20030415153354/www.collectortimes.com/~comichistory/Platinum.html) published at
defunct site CollectorTimes.com (http://www.collectortimes.com)
5. ^ Comic Monthly (http://www.comics.org/series/35704/) at the Grand Comics Database
6. ^ CBR News Team (2 July 2007). "DC Flashback: The Flash" (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?
page=article&id=10649). Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 27 June 2008.
7. ^ Zicari, Anthony (3 August 2007). "Breaking the Border Rants and Ramblings"
(http://web.archive.org/web/20070826092448/http://www.silverbulletcomics.com/news/story.php?a=5706). Comics
Bulletin. Archived from the original (http://www.silverbulletcomics.com/news/story.php?a=5706) on 26 August
2007. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
8. ^ a b Stack, Frank; Shelton, Gilbert (25 December 2006). "Introduction". The New Adventures of Jesus.
Fantagraphics Books. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-56097-780-3.
9. ^ a b Skinn, Dez (20 May 2004). "Heroes of the Revolution". Comix: The Underground Revolution. Thunder's
Mouth Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-56025-572-7.
10. ^ Sabin, Roger. Adult Comics: An Introduction(Routledge New Accents Library Collection, 2005), p. 291 ISBN
978-0-415-29139-2, ISBN 978-0-415-29139-2
11. ^ "Motion Picture Funnies Weekly No. 1 Pay Copy (First Funnies, Inc., 1939) CGC VF/NM 9.0 Cream to off-white
pages. This is one of... Golden Age (19381955)Superhero" (http://comics.ha.com/common/view_item.php?
Sale_No=818&Lot_No=2020&type=prte-pr091305a). Comics.ha.com. 14 October 2005. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
12. ^ Batman comic book beats Superman at auction, sets record
(http://money.cnn.com/2010/02/26/news/economy/batman_comic/) CNN Money 2-26-10
13. ^ Superman comic sells for record $1.5 million
(http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hGSEcn7ai7p8aUMf-zKCdrsY9RmQ) (AFP) 29 Mar
14. ^ Garneau, Eric. "The Five Most Expensive Comic Books Ever Sold"
(http://www.sparknotes.com/mindhut/2012/06/19/the-5-most-expensive-comic-books-ever-sold). Retrieved 20
March 2013.
15. ^ Johnston, Rich (23 May 2005). "Alan's Previous Problems With DC (sidebar)"
(http://www.comicbookresources.com/columns/index.cgi?article=2153). Lying in the Gutters. Comic Book
16. ^ "Beano's Dennis the Menace on Royal Mail comic stamps" (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17421394). BBC
News. 19 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
17. ^ Gregory Schmidt (July 21, 2013). "Embracing Tablets, Comic Book Publishers Cash In on a Digital Revolution"
(http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/22/business/media/comic-books-cash-in-on-a-digital-revolution.html). The New
York Times. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
18. ^ "Avenging Spider-Man #1 Makes Digital History" (http://marvel.com/news/story/16781/avenging_spiderman_1_makes_digital_history). 12 October 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2011.

Further reading
Kern, Adam L. (18 December 2006). Manga from the Floating World: Comic book Culture and the
Kibyshi of Edo Japan. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Asia Center. ISBN 978-0674-02266-9.
Inge, M. Thomas (1979). "Comics as Culture". Journal of Popular Culture 12 (631).
Martin, Tim (2 April 2009). "How Comic Books Became Part of the Literary Establishment"

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the-literary-establishment.html). Telegraph.

External links
Comic book Reference Bibliographic Datafile (http://www.crbd.eu)
Sequart Research & Literacy Organization (http://www.sequart.org)
Comic Art Collection (http://mulibraries.missouri.edu/specialcollections/comic.htm) at the University
of Missouri
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