A comic book or simply comic, is a publication that consists of comics art in the form of sequential juxtaposed panels that represent individual scenes.
Panels are often accompanied by descriptive prose and written narrative, usually, dialogue contained in word balloons emblematic of the comics art form.
The precursor to comic books, cartoons have been popular in England and America since the early 1800s, originating as satirical and political cartoons printed in newspapers and periodicals. The most influential cartoonist of this period, Thomas Nast played a large role in bringing down “Boss” Tweed’s corrupt political machine in 1870s New York through a series of cartoons heavily critical of Tweed.
Through a natural evolution, cartoons developed into comic books, first through publications containing compilations of cartoon re-prints, then as books with original cartoon artwork.
Published in 1897, The Yellow Kid in McFadden’s Flats is considered to be the first comic book, insomuch that it bore the phrase “comic book” on its back cover. Although images of caricatures with related wording have existed since the Middle Ages, comics gained popularity through publication in the British humor magazine, Punch, where a number of Golden Age illustrators honed their craft.
The first true comic books were marketed in 1933 as giveaway advertising premiums. By 1935 reprints of newspaper strips and books with original stories were selling in large quantities.
The Golden Age of Comic Books began in June 1938 with the debut of Superman in Action Comics #1. Batman premiered less than a year later in Detective Comics #27.
In October 1939, Marvel Comics’ predecessor, Timely Publications, released Marvel Comics #1 which included the Human Torch, Angel, and Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner. Along with Fawcett Comics’ superhero Captain Marvel, DC Comics’ Flash and Green Lantern debuted in 1940. Marvel’s Captain America and DC’s Wonder Woman were first published the following year.
During World War II comics dealing with war and crime found many readers among soldiers stationed abroad, and in the 1950s comic books were blamed for juvenile delinquency. Though the industry responded with self-censorship, some adventure strips continued to be criticized.
The Silver Age of Comic Books is generally considered to date from the first successful revival of the then-dormant superhero form, with the debut of the Flash in Showcase #4 (Oct. 1956). 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 Lee and Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man.
The rise of comic book specialty stores in the late 1970s created/paralleled a dedicated market for “independent” or “alternative comics” in the US.
The demarcation between the Silver Age and the following era, the Bronze Age of Comic Books, is less well-defined, with the Bronze Age running from the very early 1970s through the mid-1980s.
The Modern Age of Comic Books runs from the mid-1980s to the present day.
Manga are comics or graphic novels originating from Japan. Most manga conform to a style developed in Japan in the late 19th century, and the form has a long prehistory in earlier Japanese art. The term manga is used in Japan to refer to both comics and cartooning. Outside of Japan, the word is typically used to refer to comics originally published in the country. By the turn of the 21st century manga achieved worldwide popularity, and comic “’zines” represented a thriving subculture. Comic books are often used to deal with serious subjects.
The largest collection of comic books includes 101,822 unique items and is owned by Bob Bretall (USA) of Mission Viejo, California, USA. The achievement was verified on 6 August 2015.
The oldest comic book artist is Tetsuo Terauchi (Japan, b. 1 November 1921) who is 97 years and 56 days old, as verified in Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan on 27 December 2018.
The largest comic book published measures 7,030.00 cm² (7 ft² 81.65 in²) and was achieved by Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) published by KODANSHA LTD. (Japan), verified in Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan, on 13 April, 2021.
The smallest comic book is written by Martin Lodewijk (Netherlands) and published in June 1999, a special issue of the long-running comic Agent 327 entitled “Dossier Minimum Bug” measured just 2.58 x 3.7 cm (1 x 1.4 in). A total of 2,000 copies of the 16‑page, full-colour comic were produced and sold with a free magnifying glass.
The largest auction of comic books, comic art and comic-related memorabilia took place on 5 and 6 May 2011. The auction, conducted by Heritage Auction Galleries in New York City, USA, raised $6,077,355 (£3,712,000).
The most translated comic book is The Adventures of Asterix, created by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo in 1959, translated in 111 languages and dialects, including Welsh, Latin, Swiss German and Esperanto.
In 2021, Amazing Fantasy #15, a comic that features the first appearance of Spider-Man, set the record for the most expensive comic ever sold. The entire comic book sold for US$3.6 million as part of Heritage Auction’s Signature Comics & Comic Art auction which was held between September 8 to September 12 last year. The comic book was by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and told the story of Peter Parker gaining incredible superpowers and turning into Spider-Man.