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Anne has a bachelor's in K-12 art education and a master's in visual art and design. She currently works at a living history museum in Colorado.
A comic strip is either one panel or three panels that tell a story or a joke. Humorous comics are usually found in the pages of some newspaper's entertainment sections, or more increasingly on the internet as more papers go online to save money. Editorial comics, are usually more serious and are found within the opinion pages of newspapers. Sometimes writers and artists collaborate and create comic books, where one storyline is shown altogether instead of having to wait for a new paper to find out what happens in the story. Some artists have taken classic novels and other books and turned them into graphic novels, where the story is illustrated in a comic book format. Some comic strips aren't even featured in papers at all. These are usually found on the internet and are referred to as webcomics. All of these would not be in existence today if it wasn't for Richard Outcault's Yellow Kid.
Narrative strips and comics have been around for quite a while, but the form they are today began around 1865 in Germany with Wilhelm Busch's Max and Moritz. The two mischievous children became the basis for many other comic strips.
The first color comics began appearing in the late 1890s. The Little Bears, by James Swinnerton, appeared first, followed by Hogan's Alley (the home of the Yellow Kid) by Richard Outcault a year later. The Yellow Kid first appeared in Joseph Pulitzer's New York World in 1895 and became a big hit.
The Yellow Kid also introduced an early form of the speech bubble that is seen in most comic strips today. As he became more and more popular, his words were printed on his bright yellow nightshirt.
In 1912, Hearst created the International Feature Service, later known as the King Features Syndicate, which allowed Hearst's papers to pick and choose which comics and other features they wanted to appear in their papers. King Features would later become the home for many strips that are still known and running today, such as Beetle Bailey and Blondie.
Some artists felt they needed to express their political views through their strips during this time. Little Orphan Annie began in 1924, drawn by Harold Gray. Gray had a tendency to express his political views, such as his disapproval of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal through his story lines.
The DC Universe began in 1937. The first issue of Detective Comics, which later became DC Comics, appeared that year. Superman first appeared in DC Comic's Action Comics the next year. The first incarnation of Batman was in DC Comics in 1939. 1939 was also the year the world was introduced to what became the Marvel Universe.
When the U.S. entered World War II, comic artists used their influence to encourage readers on the home front. Jack Kirby and Joe Simon created Captain America to go and fight the Nazis. A prominent theme throughout this time was good triumphing over evil.
The wild west and gritty crime dramas were popular themes in novels and in comic books during this time. One place they weren't popular, however, was with teachers and members of the clergy. They didn't think children should be exposed to such elements, and encouraged Congress to take action to regulate the comics industry. The Comics Code Authority was created in 1954 to monitor the content of comic books and make them more suitable for children.
One strip that rose in popularity during this time was Peanuts, which launched in 1950. Originally called Li'l Folks, Charles Schulz's creations became one of the most popular strips of all-time. The strip spawned a great deal of merchandising opportunities for Schulz, from television specials to stuffed animals and even an animated film. The strip itself ran until 2000.
The Cold War put radiation and nuclear energy into a lot of people's minds. Marvel introduced readers to Spiderman and The Hulk in 1962, and the X-Men blasted the way onto pages the next year. The 1960s also gave readers more female-fronted comics with Josie and the Pussycats and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
The 1970s were another time when comic artists chose to make political statements through their strips. Gary Trudeau's Doonesbury started in 1970 and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975. Throughout its history, Trudeau made his opinion known on everything from the Watergate Scandal to premarital sex to marijuana. Trudeau announced a break from his editorial strip in 2014.
Cathy began in 1976, drawn by Cathy Guisewite. This strip, while semi-autobiographical, explored the life of a woman just trying to get ahead in the working world while trying to lose weight, fit in a swimsuit, and find love. It goes on until 2010.
Garfield napped his way into the funny papers during this time as well. Jim Davis began drawing the strip in 1978. Just like Peanuts, Garfield has become a very popular strip with movies and merchandising seen throughout the world.
Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes, beginning in 1985, followed the adventures of young Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes. His strip runs for 10 years.
The 1980s and 90s were a time for comics based around teenagers. Luann began in 1985, drawn by Greg Evans. Zits emerged in 1997, drawn by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman. Both are still running today.
The continuing evolution of the internet has allowed artists to without having to get them into newspapers. These have an immensely popular following on the internet, due to the ability of visitors to share the works of the artists just by clicking a button. One example is Cyanide and Happiness, drawn by Dave McElfatrick, Kris Wilson, and Rob DenBleyker. The site features all sorts of things that wouldn't make it into newspapers.
From their beginnings in 1800s newspapers to their future on the internet, comics have had an interesting history. Humorous comics have made us laugh; editorial comics have made us think. Graphic novels give us a new perspective on novels, and we can share webcomics instantly with our friends. Comic books gave us our favorite superheroes. Comic strips will probably be around for a long time, whether it be on the internet or in newspapers.
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Back To CourseArt Lesson Plans & Projects
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