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Comics is a medium that expresses narratives or other ideas using a series of still images, usually combined with text. It typically takes the form of a sequence of panels of images. Textual devices such as speech balloons, captions, and onomatopoeia can indicate dialogue, narration, sound effects, or other information. The size and arrangement of panels contribute to narrative pacing. Cartooning and other forms of illustration are the most common image-making means in comics; fumetti is a form which uses photographic images. Common forms include gag-a-day comic strips, editorial and gag cartoons, and comic books. Since the late 20th century, bound volumes such as graphic novels, comic albums, and tankōbon have become increasingly common, while online webcomics have proliferated in the 21st century.


The history of comics has followed different paths in different cultures, but by the mid-20th century comics flourished, particularly in the United States, western Europe (especially France and Belgium), and Japan. The history of European comics is often traced to Rodolphe Töpffer's cartoon strips of the 1830s, but the medium truly became popular in the 1930s following the success of strips and books such as The Adventures of Tintin . American comics emerged as a mass medium in the early 20th century with the advent of newspaper comic strips; magazine-style comic books followed in the 1930s, in which the superhero genre became prominent after Superman appeared in 1938. Histories of Japanese comics and cartooning ( manga ) propose origins as early as the 12th century. Modern comic strips emerged in Japan in the early 20th century, and the output of comics magazines and books rapidly expanded in the post-World War II era (1945–) with the popularity of cartoonists such as Osamu Tezuka ( Astro Boy , et al.). Comics has had a lowbrow reputation for much of its history, but towards the end of the 20th century began to find greater acceptance with the public and academics.[ citation needed ]

The term comics is used as a singular noun when it refers to the medium itself (e.g. "Comics is a visual art form."), but becomes plural when referring to works collectively (e.g. "Comics are popular reading material."). Though the term derives from the humorous ( comic ) work that predominated in early American newspaper comic strips, it has become standard for non-humorous works too. The alternate spelling comix – coined by the underground comix movement – is sometimes used to address these ambiguities. [1] In English, it is common to refer to the comics of different cultures by the terms used in their original languages, such as manga for Japanese comics, or bandes dessinées (B.D.) for French-language comics.

There is no consensus among theorists and historians on a definition of comics; some emphasize the combination of images and text, some sequentiality or other image relations, and others historical aspects, such as mass reproduction or the use of recurring characters . Increasing cross-pollination of concepts from different comics cultures and eras has only made definition more difficult.[ citation needed ]

Origins and traditions

The European, American, and Japanese comics traditions have followed different paths. [2] Europeans have seen their tradition as beginning with the Swiss Rodolphe Töpffer from as early as 1827 and Americans have seen the origin of theirs in Richard F. Outcault's 1890s newspaper strip The Yellow Kid , though many Americans have come to recognize Töpffer's precedence. [3] Japan has a long history of satirical cartoons and comics leading up to the World War II era. The ukiyo-e artist Hokusai popularized the Japanese term for comics and cartooning, manga , in the early 19th century. [4] In the 1930s Harry "A" Chesler started a comics studio, which eventually at its height employed 40 artists working for 50 different publishers who helped make the comics medium flourish in "the Golden Age of Comics" after World War II. [5] In the post-war era modern Japanese comics began to flourish when Osamu Tezuka produced a prolific body of work. [6] Towards the close of the 20th century, these three traditions converged in a trend towards book-length comics: the comic album in Europe, the tankōbon [lower-alpha 1] in Japan, and the graphic novel in the English-speaking countries. [2]

Outside of these genealogies, comics theorists and historians have seen precedents for comics in the Lascaux cave paintings [7] in France (some of which appear to be chronological sequences of images), Egyptian hieroglyphs, Trajan's Column in Rome, [8] the 11th-century Norman Bayeux Tapestry, [9] the 1370 bois Protat woodcut, the 15th-century Ars moriendi and block books, Michelangelo's The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel, [8] and William Hogarth's 18th-century sequential engravings, [10] amongst others. [8] [lower-alpha 2]

Tapisserie de Bayeux 31109.jpg
Theorists debate whether the Bayeux Tapestry is a precursor to comics.

English-language comics

Ambigrams by Gustave Verbeek (1904) - comics The Upside Downs of Little Lady Lovekins and Old Man Muffaroo - At the house of the writing pig.jpg
At the house of the writing pig.
The Upside Downs of Little Lady Lovekins and Old Man Muffaroo , comics by Gustave Verbeek containing reversible figures and ambigram sentences (March 1904).

Illustrated humour periodicals were popular in 19th-century Britain, the earliest of which was the short-lived The Glasgow Looking Glass in 1825. The most popular was Punch , [12] which popularized the term cartoon for its humorous caricatures. [13] On occasion the cartoons in these magazines appeared in sequences; [12] the character Ally Sloper featured in the earliest serialized comic strip when the character began to feature in its own weekly magazine in 1884. [14]

American comics developed out of such magazines as Puck , Judge , and Life . The success of illustrated humour supplements in the New York World and later the New York American , particularly Outcault's The Yellow Kid, led to the development of newspaper comic strips. Early Sunday strips were full-page [15] and often in colour. Between 1896 and 1901 cartoonists experimented with sequentiality, movement, and speech balloons. [16] A northworthy example is Gustave Verbeek, who wrote his comic series "The UpsideDowns of Old Man Muffaroo and Little Lady Lovekins" between 1903 and 1905. These comics were made in such a way that one could read the 6 panel comic, flip the book and keep reading. He made 64 such comics in total. In 2012 a remake of a selection of the comics was made by Marcus Ivarsson in the book 'In Uppåner med Lilla Lisen & Gamle Muppen'. ( ISBN   978-91-7089-524-1)

Mr. A. Mutt Starts in to Play the Races 1907.jpg
Bud Fisher's Mutt and Jeff (1907–1982) was the first successful daily comic strip (1907).

Shorter, black-and-white daily strips began to appear early in the 20th century, and became established in newspapers after the success in 1907 of Bud Fisher's Mutt and Jeff . [17] In Britain, the Amalgamated Press established a popular style of a sequence of images with text beneath them, including Illustrated Chips and Comic Cuts . [18] Humour strips predominated at first, and in the 1920s and 1930s strips with continuing stories in genres such as adventure and drama also became popular. [17]

Thin periodicals called comic books appeared in the 1930s, at first reprinting newspaper comic strips; by the end of the decade, original content began to dominate. [19] The success in 1938 of Action Comics and its lead hero Superman marked the beginning of the Golden Age of Comic Books, in which the superhero genre was prominent. [20] In the UK and the Commonwealth, the DC Thomson-created Dandy (1937) and Beano (1938) became successful humor-based titles, with a combined circulation of over 2 million copies by the 1950s. Their characters, including "Dennis the Menace", "Desperate Dan" and "The Bash Street Kids" have been read by generations of British schoolboys. [21] The comics originally experimented with superheroes and action stories before settling on humorous strips featuring a mix of the Amalgamated Press and US comic book styles. [22]

Superheroes have been a staple of American comic books (Wonderworld Comics #3, 1939; cover: The Flame by Will Eisner). WonderworldComics3.jpg
Superheroes have been a staple of American comic books (Wonderworld Comics#3, 1939; cover: The Flame by Will Eisner).

The popularity of superhero comic books declined following World War II, [23] while comic book sales continued to increase as other genres proliferated, such as romance, westerns, crime, horror, and humour. [24] Following a sales peak in the early 1950s, the content of comic books (particularly crime and horror) was subjected to scrutiny from parent groups and government agencies, which culminated in Senate hearings that led to the establishment of the Comics Code Authority self-censoring body. [25] The Code has been blamed for stunting the growth of American comics and maintaining its low status in American society for much of the remainder of the century. [26] Superheroes re-established themselves as the most prominent comic book genre by the early 1960s. [27] Underground comix challenged the Code and readers with adult, countercultural content in the late 1960s and early 1970s. [28] The underground gave birth to the alternative comics movement in the 1980s and its mature, often experimental content in non-superhero genres. [29]

Comics in the US has had a lowbrow reputation stemming from its roots in mass culture; cultural elites sometimes saw popular culture as threatening culture and society. In the latter half of the 20th century, popular culture won greater acceptance, and the lines between high and low culture began to blur. Comics nevertheless continued to be stigmatized, as the medium was seen as entertainment for children and illiterates. [30]

The graphic novel—book-length comics—began to gain attention after Will Eisner popularized the term with his book A Contract with God (1978). [31] The term became widely known with the public after the commercial success of Maus , Watchmen , and The Dark Knight Returns in the mid-1980s. [32] In the 21st century graphic novels became established in mainstream bookstores [33] and libraries [34] and webcomics became common. [35]

Franco-Belgian and European comics

The francophone Swiss Rodolphe Töpffer produced comic strips beginning in 1827, [8] and published theories behind the form. [36] Cartoons appeared widely in newspapers and magazines from the 19th century. [37] The success of Zig et Puce in 1925 popularized the use of speech balloons in European comics, after which Franco-Belgian comics began to dominate. [38] The Adventures of Tintin , with its signature clear line style, [39] was first serialized in newspaper comics supplements beginning in 1929, [40] and became an icon of Franco-Belgian comics. [41]

Following the success of Le Journal de Mickey (1934–44), [42] dedicated comics magazines [43] and full-colour comic albums became the primary outlet for comics in the mid-20th century. [44] As in the US, at the time comics were seen as infantile and a threat to culture and literacy; commentators stated that "none bear up to the slightest serious analysis", [lower-alpha 3] and that comics were "the sabotage of all art and all literature". [46] [lower-alpha 4]

In the 1960s, the term bandes dessinées ("drawn strips") came into wide use in French to denote the medium. [47] Cartoonists began creating comics for mature audiences, [48] and the term "Ninth Art" [lower-alpha 5] was coined, as comics began to attract public and academic attention as an artform. [49] A group including René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo founded the magazine Pilote in 1959 to give artists greater freedom over their work. Goscinny and Uderzo's The Adventures of Asterix appeared in it [50] and went on to become the best-selling French-language comics series. [51] From 1960, the satirical and taboo-breaking Hara-Kiri defied censorship laws in the countercultural spirit that led to the May 1968 events. [52]

Frustration with censorship and editorial interference led to a group of Pilote cartoonists to found the adults-only L'Écho des savanes in 1972. Adult-oriented and experimental comics flourished in the 1970s, such as in the experimental science fiction of Mœbius and others in Métal hurlant , even mainstream publishers took to publishing prestige-format adult comics. [53]

From the 1980s, mainstream sensibilities were reasserted and serialization became less common as the number of comics magazines decreased and many comics began to be published directly as albums. [54] Smaller publishers such as L'Association [55] that published longer works [56] in non-traditional formats [57] by auteur -istic creators also became common. Since the 1990s, mergers resulted in fewer large publishers, while smaller publishers proliferated. Sales overall continued to grow despite the trend towards a shrinking print market. [58]

Japanese comics

Rakuten Kitazawa created the first modern Japanese comic strip. (Tagosaku to Mokube no Tokyo Kenbutsu, 1902) Tagosaku to Mokube no Tokyo Kenbutsu.jpg
Rakuten Kitazawa created the first modern Japanese comic strip. (Tagosaku to Mokube no Tōkyō Kenbutsu, 1902)

Japanese comics and cartooning ( manga ), [lower-alpha 7] have a history that has been seen as far back as the anthropomorphic characters in the 12th-to-13th-century Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga , 17th-century toba-e and kibyōshi picture books, [62] and woodblock prints such as ukiyo-e which were popular between the 17th and 20th centuries. The kibyōshi contained examples of sequential images, movement lines, [63] and sound effects. [64]

Illustrated magazines for Western expatriates introduced Western-style satirical cartoons to Japan in the late 19th century. New publications in both the Western and Japanese styles became popular, and at the end of the 1890s, American-style newspaper comics supplements began to appear in Japan, [65] as well as some American comic strips. [62] 1900 saw the debut of the Jiji Manga in the Jiji Shinpō newspaper—the first use of the word "manga" in its modern sense, [61] and where, in 1902, Rakuten Kitazawa began the first modern Japanese comic strip. [66] By the 1930s, comic strips were serialized in large-circulation monthly girls' and boys' magazine and collected into hardback volumes. [67]

The modern era of comics in Japan began after World War II, propelled by the success of the serialized comics of the prolific Osamu Tezuka [68] and the comic strip Sazae-san . [69] Genres and audiences diversified over the following decades. Stories are usually first serialized in magazines which are often hundreds of pages thick and may contain over a dozen stories; [70] they are later compiled in tankōbon -format books. [71] At the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, nearly a quarter of all printed material in Japan was comics. [72] Translations became extremely popular in foreign markets—in some cases equaling or surpassing the sales of domestic comics. [73]

Forms and formats

Comic strips are generally short, multipanel comics that traditionally most commonly appeared in newspapers. In the US, daily strips have normally occupied a single tier, while Sunday strips have been given multiple tiers. In the early 20th century, daily strips were typically in black-and-white and Sundays were usually in colour and often occupied a full page. [74]

Specialized comics periodicals formats vary greatly in different cultures. Comic books, primarily an American format, are thin periodicals [75] usually published in colour. [76] European and Japanese comics are frequently serialized in magazines—monthly or weekly in Europe, [61] and usually black-and-white and weekly in Japan. [77] Japanese comics magazine typically run to hundreds of pages. [78]

Comics volumes - international comparison.jpg
A comparison of book formats for comics around the world. The left group is from Japan and shows the tankōbon and the smaller bunkobon formats. Those in the middle group of Franco-Belgian comics are in the standard A4-size comic album format. The right group of graphic novels is from English-speaking countries, where there is no standard format.

Book-length comics take different forms in different cultures. European comic albums are most commonly printed in A4-size [79] colour volumes. [44] In English-speaking countries, the trade paperback format originating from collected comic books have also been chosen for original material. Otherwise, bound volumes of comics are called graphic novels and are available in various formats. Despite incorporating the term "novel"—a term normally associated with fiction—"graphic novel" also refers to non-fiction and collections of short works. [80] Japanese comics are collected in volumes called tankōbon following magazine serialization. [81]

Gag and editorial cartoons usually consist of a single panel, often incorporating a caption or speech balloon. Definitions of comics which emphasize sequence usually exclude gag, editorial, and other single-panel cartoons; they can be included in definitions that emphasize the combination of word and image. [82] Gag cartoons first began to proliferate in broadsheets published in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the term "cartoon" [lower-alpha 8] was first used to describe them in 1843 in the British humour magazine Punch . [13]

Webcomics are comics that are available on the internet. They are able to reach large audiences, and new readers usually can access archived installments. [83] Webcomics can make use of an infinite canvas—meaning they are not constrained by size or dimensions of a page. [84]

Some consider storyboards [85] and wordless novels to be comics. [86] Film studios, especially in animation, often use sequences of images as guides for film sequences. These storyboards are not intended as an end product and are rarely seen by the public. [85] Wordless novels are books which use sequences of captionless images to deliver a narrative. [87]

Art styles

While almost all comics art is in some sense abbreviated, and also while every artist who has produced comics work brings their own individual approach to bear, some broader art styles have been identified. Comic strip artists Cliff Sterrett, Frank King, and Gus Arriola often used unusual, colorful backgrounds, sometimes veering into abstract art.

The basic styles have been identified as realistic and cartoony, with a huge middle ground for which R. Fiore has coined the phrase liberal. Fiore has also expressed distaste with the terms realistic and cartoony, preferring the terms literal and freestyle, respectively. [88]

Scott McCloud has created "The Big Triangle" [89] as a tool for thinking about comics art. He places the realistic representation in the bottom left corner, with iconic representation, or cartoony art, in the bottom right, and a third identifier, abstraction of image, at the apex of the triangle. This allows placement and grouping of artists by triangulation.

McCloud also notes that in several traditions, there is a tendency to have the main characters drawn rather simplistic and cartoony, while the backgrounds and environment are depicted realistically. Thus, he argues, the reader easily identifies with the characters, (as they are similar to one's idea of self), whilst being immersed into a world, that's three-dimensional and textured. [91] Good examples of this phenomenon include Hergé's The Adventures of Tintin (in his "personal trademark" Ligne claire style), Will Eisner's Spirit and Osamu Tezuka's Buddha , among many others.

Comics studies

"Comics ... are sometimes four-legged and sometimes two-legged and sometimes fly and sometimes don't ... to employ a metaphor as mixed as the medium itself, defining comics entails cutting a Gordian-knotted enigma wrapped in a mystery ..."

R. C. Harvey, 2001 [82]

Similar to the problems of defining literature and film, [92] no consensus has been reached on a definition of the comics medium, [93] and attempted definitions and descriptions have fallen prey to numerous exceptions. [94] Theorists such as Töpffer, [95] R.C. Harvey, Will Eisner, [96] David Carrier, [97] Alain Rey, [93] and Lawrence Grove emphasize the combination of text and images, [98] though there are prominent examples of pantomime comics throughout its history. [94] Other critics, such as Thierry Groensteen [98] and Scott McCloud, have emphasized the primacy of sequences of images. [99] Towards the close of the 20th century, different cultures' discoveries of each other's comics traditions, the rediscovery of forgotten early comics forms, and the rise of new forms made defining comics a more complicated task. [100]

European comics studies began with Töpffer's theories of his own work in the 1840s, which emphasized panel transitions and the visual–verbal combination. No further progress was made until the 1970s. [101] Pierre Fresnault-Deruelle then took a semiotics approach to the study of comics, analyzing text–image relations, page-level image relations, and image discontinuities, or what Scott McCloud later dubbed "closure". [102] In 1987, Henri Vanlier introduced the term multicadre, or "multiframe", to refer to the comics page as a semantic unit. [103] By the 1990s, theorists such as Benoît Peeters and Thierry Groensteen turned attention to artists' poïetic creative choices. [102] Thierry Smolderen and Harry Morgan have held relativistic views of the definition of comics, a medium that has taken various, equally valid forms over its history. Morgan sees comics as a subset of "les littératures dessinées" (or "drawn literatures"). [100] French theory has come to give special attention to the page, in distinction from American theories such as McCloud's which focus on panel-to-panel transitions. [103] Since the mid-2000s, Neil Cohn has begun analyzing how comics are understood using tools from cognitive science, extending beyond theory by using actual psychological and neuroscience experiments. This work has argued that sequential images and page layouts both use separate rule-bound "grammars" to be understood that extend beyond panel-to-panel transitions and categorical distinctions of types of layouts, and that the brain's comprehension of comics is similar to comprehending other domains, such as language and music. [104]

Historical narratives of manga tend to focus either on its recent, post-WWII history, or on attempts to demonstrate deep roots in the past, such as to the Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga picture scroll of the 12th and 13th centuries, or the early 19th-century Hokusai Manga. [105] The first historical overview of Japanese comics was Seiki Hosokibara's Nihon Manga-Shi [lower-alpha 9] in 1924. [106] Early post-war Japanese criticism was mostly of a left-wing political nature until the 1986 publication of Tomofusa Kure's Modern Manga: The Complete Picture, [lower-alpha 10] which de-emphasized politics in favour of formal aspects, such as structure and a "grammar" of comics. The field of manga studies increased rapidly, with numerous books on the subject appearing in the 1990s. [107] Formal theories of manga have focused on developing a "manga expression theory", [lower-alpha 11] with emphasis on spatial relationships in the structure of images on the page, distinguishing the medium from film or literature, in which the flow of time is the basic organizing element. [108] Comics studies courses have proliferated at Japanese universities, and Japan Society for Studies in Cartoon and Comics  [ ja ] [lower-alpha 12] was established in 2001 to promote comics scholarship. [109] The publication of Frederik L. Schodt's Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics in 1983 led to the spread of use of the word manga outside Japan to mean "Japanese comics" or "Japanese-style comics". [110]

Will Eisner (San Diego Comic Con, 2004).jpg
Scott McCloud.Making Comics Tour.RISD.gk.JPG
Will Eisner (top) and Scott McCloud have proposed influential and controversial definitions of comics.

Coulton Waugh attempted the first comprehensive history of American comics with The Comics (1947). [111] Will Eisner's Comics and Sequential Art (1985) and Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics (1993) were early attempts in English to formalize the study of comics. David Carrier's The Aesthetics of Comics (2000) was the first full-length treatment of comics from a philosophical perspective. [112] Prominent American attempts at definitions of comics include Eisner's, McCloud's, and Harvey's. Eisner described what he called "sequential art" as "the arrangement of pictures or images and words to narrate a story or dramatize an idea"; [113] Scott McCloud defined comics as "juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer", [114] a strictly formal definition which detached comics from its historical and cultural trappings. [115] R.C. Harvey defined comics as "pictorial narratives or expositions in which words (often lettered into the picture area within speech balloons) usually contribute to the meaning of the pictures and vice versa". [116] Each definition has had its detractors. Harvey saw McCloud's definition as excluding single-panel cartoons, [117] and objected to McCloud's de-emphasizing verbal elements, insisting "the essential characteristic of comics is the incorporation of verbal content". [103] Aaron Meskin saw McCloud's theories as an artificial attempt to legitimize the place of comics in art history. [96]

Cross-cultural study of comics is complicated by the great difference in meaning and scope of the words for "comics" in different languages. [118] The French term for comics, bandes dessinées ("drawn strip") emphasizes the juxtaposition of drawn images as a defining factor, [119] which can imply the exclusion of even photographic comics. [120] The term manga is used in Japanese to indicate all forms of comics, cartooning, [121] and caricature. [122]


The term comics refers to the comics medium when used as an uncountable noun and thus takes the singular: "comics is a medium" rather than "comics are a medium". When comic appears as a countable noun it refers to instances of the medium, such as individual comic strips or comic books: "Tom's comics are in the basement." [123]

Panels are individual images containing a segment of action, [124] often surrounded by a border. [125] Prime moments in a narrative are broken down into panels via a process called encapsulation. [126] The reader puts the pieces together via the process of closure by using background knowledge and an understanding of panel relations to combine panels mentally into events. [127] The size, shape, and arrangement of panels each affect the timing and pacing of the narrative. [128] The contents of a panel may be asynchronous, with events depicted in the same image not necessarily occurring at the same time. [129]

A caption (the yellow box) gives the narrator a voice. The characters' dialogue appears in speech balloons. The tail of the balloon indicates the speaker. PunchandJudyComicsV01-0145-panel3.jpg
A caption (the yellow box) gives the narrator a voice. The characters' dialogue appears in speech balloons. The tail of the balloon indicates the speaker.

Text is frequently incorporated into comics via speech balloons, captions, and sound effects. Speech balloons indicate dialogue (or thought, in the case of thought balloons), with tails pointing at their respective speakers. [130] Captions can give voice to a narrator, convey characters' dialogue or thoughts, [131] or indicate place or time. [132] Speech balloons themselves are strongly associated with comics, such that the addition of one to an image is sufficient to turn the image into comics. [133] Sound effects mimic non-vocal sounds textually using onomatopoeia sound-words. [134]

Cartooning is most frequently used in making comics, traditionally using ink (especially India ink) with dip pens or ink brushes; [135] mixed media and digital technology have become common. Cartooning techniques such as motion lines [136] and abstract symbols are often employed. [137]

While comics are often the work of a single creator, the labour of making them is frequently divided between a number of specialists. There may be separate writers and artists, and artists may specialize in parts of the artwork such as characters or backgrounds, as is common in Japan. [138] Particularly in American superhero comic books, [139] the art may be divided between a penciller, who lays out the artwork in pencil; [140] an inker, who finishes the artwork in ink; [141] a colourist; [142] and a letterer, who adds the captions and speech balloons. [143]


The English-language term comics derives from the humorous (or "comic") work which predominated in early American newspaper comic strips; usage of the term has become standard for non-humorous works as well. The term "comic book" has a similarly confusing history: they are most often not humorous; nor are they regular books, but rather periodicals. [144] It is common in English to refer to the comics of different cultures by the terms used in their original languages, such as manga for Japanese comics, or bandes dessinées for French-language Franco-Belgian comics. [145]

Many cultures have taken their words for comics from English, including Russian (Комикс, komiks ) [146] and German ( comic ). [147] Similarly, the Chinese term manhua [148] and the Korean manhwa [149] derive from the Chinese characters with which the Japanese term manga is written. [150]

See also

See also lists


  1. tankōbon (単行本, translation close to "independently appearing book")
  2. David Kunzle has compiled extensive collections of these and other proto-comics in his The Early Comic Strip (1973) and The History of the Comic Strip (1990). [11]
  3. French: "... aucune ne supporte une analyse un peu serieuse." – Jacqueline & Raoul Dubois in La Presse enfantine française (Midol, 1957) [45]
  4. French: "C'est le sabotage de tout art et de toute littérature." – Jean de Trignon in Histoires de la littérature enfantine de ma Mère l'Oye au Roi Babar (Hachette, 1950) [45]
  5. French: neuvième art
  6. Tagosaku and Mokube Sightseeing in Tokyo (Japanese: 田吾作と杢兵衛の東京見物, Hepburn: Tagosaku to Mokube no Tokyo Kenbutsu)
  7. "Manga" (Japanese: 漫画) can be glossed in many ways, amongst them "whimsical pictures", "disreputable pictures", [59] "irresponsible pictures", [60] "derisory pictures", and "sketches made for or out of a sudden inspiration". [61]
  8. "cartoon": from the Italian cartone, meaning "card", which referred to the cardboard on which the cartoons were typically drawn. [13]
  9. Hosokibara, Seiki (1924). 日本漫画史[Japanese Comics History]. Yuzankaku.
  10. Kure, Tomofusa (1986). 現代漫画の全体像[Modern Manga: The Complete Picture]. Joho Center Publishing. ISBN   978-4-575-71090-8. [107]
  11. "Manga expression theory" (Japanese: 漫画表現論, Hepburn: manga hyōgenron) [108]
  12. Japan Society for Studies in Cartoon and Comics (Japanese: 日本マンガ学会, Hepburn: Nihon Manga Gakkai)

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Harvey Kurtzman was an American cartoonist and editor. His best-known work includes writing and editing the parodic comic book Mad from 1952 until 1956, and illustrating the Little Annie Fanny strips in Playboy from 1962 until 1988. His work is noted for its satire and parody of popular culture, social critique, and attention to detail. Kurtzman's working method has been likened to that of an auteur, and he expected those who illustrated his stories to follow his layouts strictly.

American comic book Comic book originating in the USA

An American comic book is a thin periodical originating in the United States, on average 32 pages, containing comics. While the form originated in 1933, American comic books first gained popularity after the 1938 publication of Action Comics, which included the debut of the superhero Superman. This was followed by a superhero boom that lasted until the end of World War II. After the war, while superheroes were marginalized, the comic book industry rapidly expanded and genres such as horror, crime, science fiction and romance became popular. The 1950s saw a gradual decline, due to a shift away from print media in the wake of television and the impact of the Comics Code Authority. The late 1950s and the 1960s saw a superhero revival and superheroes remained the dominant character archetype throughout the late 20th century into the 21st century.

<i>Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary</i>

Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary is a comic-book story by American cartoonist Justin Green, published in 1972. Green takes the persona of Binky Brown to tell of the "compulsive neurosis" with which he struggled in his youth and which he blamed on his strict Roman Catholic upbringing. Green was later diagnosed with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) and came to see his problems in that light.

Model sheet

In visual arts, a model sheet, also known as a character board, character sheet, character study or simply a study, is a document used to help standardize the appearance, poses, and gestures of a character in arts such as animation, comics, and video games.

Drawn and Quarterly Canadian publishing house

Drawn and Quarterly is a publishing company based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, specializing in comics. It publishes primarily comic books, graphic novels and comic strip collections. The books it publishes are noted for their artistic content, as well as the quality of printing and design. The name of the company is a pun on "drawing", "quarterly", and the practice of hanging, drawing and quartering. Initially it specialized in underground and alternative comics, but has since expanded into classic reprints and translations of foreign works. Drawn and Quarterly was the company's flagship quarterly anthology during the 1990s.

<i>Its a Good Life, If You Dont Weaken</i>

It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken is a graphic novel by Canadian cartoonist Seth. It appeared in a collected volume in 1996 after serialization from 1993 to 1996 in issues #4–9 of Seth's comic book series Palookaville. The mock-autobiographical story tells of its author's obsessive search for the work of a fictional forgotten cartoonist.

Les Humanoïdes Associés ("Humanoïdes") is a Franco-American publishing house specializing in comics and graphic novels. Founded in December 1974 by comic artists Mœbius, Jean-Pierre Dionnet, Philippe Druillet, and financial director Bernard Farkas in order to publish Métal Hurlant, it quickly expanded to include a variety of science fiction works, featuring mature themes that were not commonplace in the Franco-Belgian comic world. Considered revolutionary in the comic book form at the time, chiefly due to its focus on the SF genre, the work found in Humanoïdes inspired many generations of authors and filmmakers.

<i>I Never Liked You</i> 1994 graphic novel by Chester Brown

I Never Liked You is a graphic novel by Canadian cartoonist Chester Brown. The story first ran between 1991 and 1993 under the title Fuck, in issues #26–30 of Brown's comic book Yummy Fur; published in book form by Drawn and Quarterly in 1994. It deals with the teenage Brown's introversion and difficulty talking to others, especially members of the opposite sex—including his mother. The story has minimal dialogue and is sparsely narrated. The artwork is amongst the simplest in Brown's body of work—some pages consist only of a single small panel.

<i>How a Mosquito Operates</i> 1912 film

How a Mosquito Operates is a 1912 silent animated film by American cartoonist Winsor McCay. The six-minute short depicts a giant mosquito tormenting a sleeping man. The film is one of the earliest works of animation, and its technical quality is considered far ahead of its contemporaries. It is also known under the titles The Story of a Mosquito and Winsor McCay and his Jersey Skeeters.

Comics studies is an academic field that focuses on comics and sequential art. Although comics and graphic novels have been generally dismissed as less relevant pop culture texts, scholars in fields such as semiotics, aesthetics, sociology, composition studies and cultural studies are now re-considering comics and graphic novels as complex texts deserving of serious scholarly study.

Canadian cartoonist Chester Brown attracted the attention of critics and peers in the early 1990s alternative comics world when he began publishing autobiographical comics in his comic book Yummy Fur. During this period Brown produced a number of short strips and two graphic novels: The Playboy (1992) and I Never Liked You (1994). The personal and revealing deal with Brown's social awkwardness and introversion, and the artwork and page layouts are minimal and organic. In 2011 Brown returned to autobiography with Paying for It, an account of his experience with prostitutes.

<i>Breakdowns</i> (comics)

Breakdowns is a collected volume of underground comic strips by American cartoonist Art Spiegelman. The book is made up of strips dating to before Spiegelman started planning his graphic novel Maus, but includes the strip "Maus" which presaged the graphic novel, and "Prisoner on the Hell Planet" which is reproduced in Maus. The original edition of 1977 is subtitled From Maus to Now; the expanded 2008 edition is subtitled Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!.

Comics has developed specialized terminology. Some several attempts have been made to formalize and define the terminology of comics by authors such as Will Eisner, Scott McCloud, R. C. Harvey and Dylan Horrocks. Much of the terminology in English is under dispute, so this page will list and describe the most common terms used in comics.

Wordless novel Sequences of pictures used to tell a story

The wordless novel is a narrative genre that uses sequences of captionless pictures to tell a story. As artists have often made such books using woodcut and other relief printing techniques, the terms woodcut novel or novel in woodcuts are also used. The genre flourished primarily in the 1920s and 1930s and was most popular in Germany.

Wig Wam Bam is a graphic novel by Jaime Hernandez, serialized in Love and Rockets in 1990–93 and collected in 1994.


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Works cited


Academic journals


Further reading

Academic journals