History, Pop Culture -

The Origins of Comics

Comic books have very much changed in the eyes of society. Once seen as an interest for so-called ‘geeks’, the hobby of reading comic books is now seen as hipster and trendy, with their tales appearing in cinemas everywhere and watched by millions. Take Avengers for example. Previously a geeky relic, the film franchise is now one of the most popular of the 21st century so far.

Avengers Comic Strips 2019

But how did comic books begin?

Well, historians believe the earliest examples of comic books are in fact ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and Rome’s Trajan’s Column, which use sequential pictures to tell a story. Often, this technique of using minimal writing and instead opting for images was used to appeal to members of society who could not read. But these tales were not spread far.

The impact of the industrial revolution

The Printing Press

The invention of the Printing Press in 1439 brought moveable type however it also brought a need to separate images and words as these required different methods of production. As technology progressed even further during the industrial revolution, magazines and newspapers began using illustrations as a means of commenting on popular issues of the time. These illustrations later became known as cartoons, where a sequence of them told a (short) story.

The first comic strip

It is a general consensus that ‘The Glasgow Looking Glass’ - published in 1826, was the first comic strip. It commented on fashions and politics of its time and featured many recognized elements of the comics we love today. These elements include pictures with captions, speech bubbles and caricature.

Appealing to the masses

The 1920s and 30s saw the comic industry boom, especially in Britain as classics such as The Dandy and The Beano were unveiled. Separate books also appeared instead of comics simply appearing in newspapers and magazines, with Action Comics #1 launched with Superman as its cover feature. This superhero character led to the genre dominating comic books globally.

So you like stories told via pictures?

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If you’re looking for your own picture books with wonderfully original stories - perhaps to peruse over while having a coffee or to read to little ones before bed - then check out our books. They have been redesigned for 2019 with all new tales and drawings!

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