Come. Let us trace the evolution of comics
Hello Comic Lovers!
There is a segment of animation that has been in existence from long, but has been sidelined mainly due to the advent of animated movies. In fact, some of the animated movies and cartoons have drawn inspiration from this form of entertainment. Through this article, let us get to know about an unsung part of animation-COMICS and how they have influenced us over time.
Comics can be termed as a sequential art form. Though it was only in the 19th century that comics gained prominence, sequential art has been in existence right from the upper Paleolithic age. An example of this can be seen in the cave paintings of Lascaux in South- Western France.
As seen in the picture, the earliest ‘cartoons’ consisted of images of animals as well as the early man’s hunt for food. As time marched by, we see the emergence of the Egyptian hieroglyphics during 1300 BC. These hieroglyphics can be seen even to this day as one looks into the pyramids where the legacies of the pharaohs have been preserved. Marble carvings of kings are what the Greeks and Romans did which can also be referred to as a form of cartoon. A work that stands out even to this day is the entire ceiling of the Sistine Chapel which reflects the creativity of Michelangelo. All that have been mentioned till now and much more can be called as the founding fathers of what we know today as COMICS and COMIC art.
When comic strips made their debut, they were published initially in Sunday newspapers to attract readers. At that time, these comics used to be mostly cartoons that would be captioned to convey a message or idea. Cartoonists like Thomas Nast, Honore Daumier, and William Hogarth contributed to the development of this field. William Hogarth along with Thomas Rowlandson is credited for regularly using the speech bubbles in their cartoons. The former introduced the concept of continuity wherein a single story with one cast would appear regularly. It was later in the late 1870’s that dailies and weeklies started to incorporate more comic-like pieces.
Others who contributed to the development of comics, especially in newspapers, include:
Richard Felton Outcault
Frederick Burr Opper
Comics evolved over time. It was no longer restricted to daily or weekly publications. The year 1924 saw to the first adventure making its presence through the efforts of Roy Crane The most famous adventure comic of all time to hit the market was TARZAN.
Other genres that emerged were science fiction and detective which made its presence during the Great Depression. However, the 1933 was a significant year as the first comic book made its presence in the market. The credit for it goes to Maxwell Charles Gaines who came up with the idea of printing an 8 page comic section that could be folded down from the large broadsheet to a smaller nine 9×12 inches format. Funnies on Parade initially contained reprint of newspaper comic strips.
Comic books ushered in the Golden Age of comic history. It was during this period that in June 1938 that ‘Superman’ made its presence. Based on Philip Wylie’s 1930 novel ‘Gladiator’, the creators were Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster who sold their cartoon strips to DC comics. The success of Superman saw to a new genre of comics emerge, that of superheroes. Others included ‘Batman’ and ‘Captain America’ in 1939 and 1941 respectively. Since the World War II was on during that period, comics featuring these superheroes were enthusiastically received by the public. Alongside, Walt Disney’s comics and stories were also received. Post the War, two more genres- crime and horror also made its presence.
When the comic industry was suffering!
However, publication of comics suffered a backseat in the early 1950’s especially when the book Seduction of the Innocent was published by Fredric Wertham in 1954. Wertham argued about the negative effects of comics, that it was one of the major causes of juvenile delinquency and that they were in reality, crime comics! The Comics Magazine Association of America got together the same year and came up with the Comics Code Authority. The Comics Code of the CMAA came into effect from the 26th of October 1955 and its stringent guidelines resulted in many publishers of crime comic books to shut shop.
The fiasco post the imposition of the Comics Code of the CMAA necessitated the revival of the comic industry at the earliest. Almost a year later, Julius Schwartz‘s creation The Flash made its presence on the newsstands followed by the Brave & the Bold in 1960.
DC comic characters like Batman and Superman made cameo appearances in the Justice League of America franchise along with Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman which proved the demand for superhero comics once again. Seeing the success of DC comics, Marvel Comics launched The Fantastic Four in November 1961.
Incredible Hulk came out in May 1962 which was due to the success of The Fantastic Four followed by Spider Man in August the same year. All this prompted Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to reintroduce characters like the Sub-Mariner and Captain America as well as introduce Giant Man, the Mighty Thor, Iron Man etc. to the public.
Comics have become a part of our culture and are known to mirror the views of a society to a wide audience. Apart from keeping us entertained, they also are known to influence us in varied ways. These days, it is no longer a strip with a story line and dialogues. It carries the thoughts and opinions of the creator and the message is subtly passed on to the reader. Therefore, it becomes necessary to carefully place the speech bubbles so that the right communication gets conveyed to the masses. It is no longer used an advertisement to attract readers to the Sunday paper and is now slowly becoming a money-spinning venture. Though comic strips and comic books are distinct, the relation that each of them share is like two sides of the same coin.
Thank You for reading!
This review has been collated by comic lovers, who are pursuing degree in animation at Animaster Academy, a college of excellence, producing number of creative animators and designers, for decades.