Science fiction comics

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Science fiction comics
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Science fiction magazine

Publication of comic strips and comic books focusing on science fiction became increasingly common during the early 1930s in newspapers published in the United States. They have since spread to many countries around the world.

Science fiction genre of fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction, typically dealing with imaginative concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a "literature of ideas".



The first science-fiction comic was the gag cartoon Mr. Skygack, from Mars by A.D. Condo, which debuted in newspapers in 1907. [1] [2] The first non-humorous science-fiction comic strip, Buck Rogers , appeared in 1929, [3] and was based on a story published that year in Amazing Stories. It was quickly followed by others in the genre, notably Flash Gordon , Brick Bradford , and the British strip Dan Dare . This influence spread to comic books, in which science-fiction themes became increasingly more popular; one notable title was Planet Comics . With the introduction of Superman , the superhero genre was born, which often included science-fiction elements.

A gag cartoon is most often a single-panel cartoon, usually including a caption beneath the drawing. A pantomime cartoon carries no caption. In some cases, dialogue may appear in speech balloons, following the common convention of comic strips.

<i>Mr. Skygack, from Mars</i> newspaper comic strip

Mr. Skygack, from Mars was a comic strip by the American cartoonist A.D. Condo. It appeared in the Chicago Day Book, a Chicago working-class newspaper, from 1907 to 1917 in about 400 comic strips and single panels. Like much of Condo's work in this period, the Mr. Skygack feature was syndicated and appeared in many other papers, including The Seattle Star, The Milwaukee Journal, The Spokane Press, The Pittsburgh Press, The Tacoma Times and The Duluth Daily Star.

A.D. Condo American cartoonist

Armundo Dreisbach "A.D." Condo was an American cartoonist best known as the creator of the comic strip The Outbursts of Everett True.

In the 1950s, EC Comics had great success and popularity in publishing science-fiction comics of increasing complexity. However, a wave of anti-comic feeling stirred-up among parents and educators by Dr. Fredric Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent threatened to drive them out of business. [ citation needed ] In spite of opposition, science fiction in comics continued in the U.S. through the 1960s with stories for children and teenagers, and began to return to the adult market again in the late 1960s with the wave of hippy underground comics.

Entertaining Comics, more commonly known as EC Comics, was an American publisher of comic books, which specialized in horror fiction, crime fiction, satire, military fiction, dark fantasy, and science fiction from the 1940s through the mid-1950s, notably the Tales from the Crypt series. Initially, EC was owned by Maxwell Gaines and specialized in educational and child-oriented stories. After Max Gaines' death in a boating accident in 1947, his son William Gaines took over the company and began to print more mature stories, delving into genres of horror, war, fantasy, science-fiction, adventure, and others. Noted for their high quality and shock endings, these stories were also unique in their socially conscious, progressive themes that anticipated the Civil Rights Movement and dawn of 1960s counterculture. In 1954–55, censorship pressures prompted it to concentrate on the humor magazine Mad, leading to the company's greatest and most enduring success. By 1956, the company ceased publishing all of its comic lines besides Mad.

Fredric Wertham German-American psychiatrist

Fredric Wertham was a German-American psychiatrist and author. Wertham had an early reputation as a progressive psychiatrist who treated poor black patients at his Lafargue Clinic when mental health services for blacks were uncommon due to racialist psychiatry. Wertham also authored a definitive textbook on the brain, and his institutional stressor findings were cited when courts overturned multiple segregation statutes, most notably in Brown v. Board of Education.

<i>Seduction of the Innocent</i> book

Seduction of the Innocent is a book by American psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, published in 1954, that warned that comic books were a negative form of popular literature and a serious cause of juvenile delinquency. The book was taken seriously at the time, and was a minor bestseller that created alarm in parents and galvanized them to campaign for censorship. At the same time, a U.S. Congressional inquiry was launched into the comic book industry. Subsequent to the publication of Seduction of the Innocent, the Comics Code Authority was voluntarily established by publishers to self-censor their titles.

Japanese manga also featured science-fiction elements. In the 1950s, Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy was one of the first major manga that centered around science fiction. In the following decades, many other creators and works would follow, including Leiji Matsumoto (e.g. Galaxy Express 999 ), Katsuhiro Otomo (e.g. Akira ) and Masamune Shirow (e.g. Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell ).

Manga comics or [[graphic novel]]s created in Japan

Manga are comics or graphic novels created in Japan or by creators in the Japanese language, conforming to a style developed in Japan in the late 19th century. They have a long and complex pre-history in earlier Japanese art.

Osamu Tezuka Japanese cartoonist and animator

Osamu Tezuka was a Japanese manga artist, cartoonist, animator, and film producer. Born in Osaka Prefecture, his prolific output, pioneering techniques, and innovative redefinitions of genres earned him such titles as "the father of manga", "the godfather of manga" and "the god of manga". Additionally, he is often considered the Japanese equivalent to Walt Disney, who served as a major inspiration during Tezuka's formative years. Though this phrase praises the quality of his early manga works for children and animations, it also blurs the significant influence of his later, more literary, gekiga works.

<i>Astro Boy</i> Japanese manga series

Astro Boy, known in Japan by its original name Mighty Atom, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka. It was serialized in Weekly Shonen Magazine from 1952 to 1968. The original 112 chapters were collected into 23 tankōbon volumes by Kodansha. The English volumes would not become available until 2002 when the rights were licensed by Dark Horse. The story follows the protagonist, Astro Boy, an android with human emotions who is created by Umataro Tenma after the death of his son. Eventually, Astro is sold to a robot circus run by Hamegg, but is saved from his servitude by Professor Ochanomizu. Astro becomes a surrogate son to Ochanomizu who creates a robotic family for Astro and helps him to live a normal life like an average human boy, whilst accompanying him on many adventures.

In the UK, the publication of Eagle gave a platform for the launch of Dan Dare in 1950. Starting in the mid-sixties, The Trigan Empire, drawn by Don Lawrence (who would later go on to create Storm) was featured in Look and Learn. In the 1970s, publications, such as 2000 AD, featured a selection of regular stories putting a science-fiction spin on popular themes, [4] like sports or war. Its success spawned a number of spin-offs in imitators like Tornado , Starlord, and Crisis, none of which lasted more than a few years, with the earlier titles being merged back into 2000 AD.

Dan Dare fictional human

Dan Dare is a British science fiction comic hero, created by illustrator Frank Hampson who also wrote the first stories. Dare appeared in the Eagle comic story Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future from 1950 to 1967, and dramatised seven times a week on Radio Luxembourg (1951–1956).

<i>The Trigan Empire</i>

The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire, later called simply The Trigan Empire, is a science fiction comic series written mainly by Mike Butterworth and drawn by Don Lawrence, among others. It told the story of an alien culture in a manner that contained an educational blend of science and details of Earth-like ancient civilizations.

Donald Southam Lawrence was a British comic book artist and author.

The first French comic with a science-fiction theme was Zig et Puce au XXIème Siècle (Zig & Puce In The 21st Century), originally serialized in a French Sunday newspaper before being published as an album in 1935; this was one of the many adventures of the teenage characters Zig and Puce first created in 1925. The first French science-fiction comics story that wasn't geared toward the adolescent audience was Futuropolis, serialized in the comics magazine Junior in 1937-1938; the pseudo-sequel Electropolis followed in 1940. When the Nazi occupation forces banned the import of Flash Gordon into France, Le Rayon U (The U Ray) was created as replacement in the magazine Bravo which had been running the former. Other French science-fiction comics which debuted in 1943 include Otomox , featuring a powerful robot, serialized in Pic et Nic, and L'Épervier Bleu (The Blue Hawk), serialized in Spirou magazine. The first French comics magazine exclusively featuring a science-fiction hero was in 1947 with the relatively short-lived Radar . A far longer lasting French comics magazine would be the small-format Meteor , published from 1953 through 1964; its main feature was Les Connquerants de l'espace (The Conquerors of Space). Subsequent notable French science fiction include publications like Métal Hurlant and authors like Enki Bilal (e.g. The Nikopol Trilogy) and Moebius.

Futuropolis is a 1984 American short animated/stop motion science fiction film written and directed by Steve Segal and Phil Trumbo. The film introduces Tom Campagnoli, Mike Cody, Stan Garth, Catherine Schultz and Cassandra Cossitt in lead roles.

Le Rayon U

Le Rayon U is a comic book written and drawn by the Belgian comics creator Edgar P. Jacobs in 1943.

<i>Spirou</i> (magazine) Weekly Franco-Belgian comics magazine published by the Dupuis company

Spirou magazine is a weekly Franco-Belgian comics magazine published by the Dupuis company. First published 21 April 1938, it was an eight-page weekly comics magazine composed a mixture of short stories and gags, serial comics, and a handful of American comics, of which the most popular series would be collected as albums by Dupuis afterwards.

With the invention of the Internet, a number of science-fiction comics have been published primarily online. Among the earliest science-fiction webcomics was Polymer City Chronicles , which first appeared in 1994. Other notable comics include Schlock Mercenary , and Starslip Crisis . [ citation needed ]

Graphic novels

A science-fiction graphic novel is a full-length book that uses images necessarily to depict a story of a fictional nature that explores different/future time lines, theoretical societies, technology and/or both. [ citation needed ]

The first recorded usage of the term, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), is in 1978 by Will Eisner: "A contract with God: and other tenement stories... A graphic novel", though graphic novels existed for years prior. While predating the term, a graphic novel based on science fiction, Astro Boy, by Osamu Tezuka, was published in 1951, starring a childlike robot Astro Boy who was activated in the year 2003.

Related Research Articles

Comic book publication of comics art

A comic book or comicbook, also called comic magazine or simply comic, is a publication that consists of comic art in the form of sequential juxtaposed panels that represent individual scenes. Panels are often accompanied by brief descriptive prose and written narrative, usually dialog contained in word balloons emblematic of the comics art form. Although comics has some origins in 18th century Japan, comic books were first popularized in the United States and the United Kingdom during the 1930s. The first modern comic book, Famous Funnies, was released in the U.S. in 1933 and was a reprinting of earlier newspaper humor comic strips, which had established many of the story-telling devices used in comics. The term comic book derives from American comic books once being a compilation of comic strips of a humorous tone; however, this practice was replaced by featuring stories of all genres, usually not humorous in tone.

Graphic novel book with primarily comics contents

A graphic novel is a book made up of comics content. Although the word "novel" normally refers to long fictional works, the term "graphic novel" is applied broadly and includes fiction, non-fiction, and anthologized work. It is distinguished from the term "comic book", which is generally used for comics periodicals.

Comics creative work in which pictures and text convey information such as narratives

Comics is a medium used to express ideas by images, often combined with text or other visual information. Comics frequently takes the form of juxtaposed sequences of panels of images. Often textual devices such as speech balloons, captions, and onomatopoeia indicate dialogue, narration, sound effects, or other information. Size and arrangement of panels contribute to narrative pacing. Cartooning and similar forms of illustration are the most common image-making means in comics; fumetti is a form which uses photographic images. Common forms of comics include 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.

A British comic is a periodical published in the United Kingdom that contains comic strips. It is generally referred to as a comic or a comic magazine, and historically as a comic paper.

Shotaro Ishinomori Manga artist

Shotaro Ishinomori was a Japanese manga artist who became an influential figure in manga, anime, and tokusatsu, creating several immensely popular long-running series such as Cyborg 009, the Super Sentai series, and the Kamen Rider Series. He was twice awarded by the Shogakukan Manga Award, in 1968 for Sabu to Ichi Torimono Hikae and in 1988 for Hotel and Manga Nihon Keizai Nyumon. He was born and named Shotaro Onodera in Tome, Miyagi, and was also known as Shotaro Ishimori before 1986, when he changed his family name to Ishinomori with "ノ".

<i>Phoenix</i> (manga) 1978 manga series by Osamu Tezuka directed by Kon Ichikawa

Phoenix is an unfinished manga series by Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka considered Phoenix his "life's work"; it consists of 12 books, each of which tells a separate, self-contained story and takes place in a different era. The plots go back and forth from the remote future to prehistoric times. The story was never completed, having been cut short by Tezuka's death in 1989. Several of the stories have been adapted into anime series and OVAs, and even a live-action movie. As of 2007, the entire manga series is available in English-language translations.

Adult comics comic genre

The term adult comics typically denotes comic books, comic magazines, comic strips or graphic novels with content of an erotic, violent, or sophisticated nature, which appeals to adult readers. They are sometimes restricted to purchase by legal adults, especially erotic comics which include sexually explicit material.

<i>Astro Boy</i> (1963 TV series) 1963 anime television series

Astro Boy is a Japanese television series that premiered on Fuji TV on New Year's Day and is the first popular animated Japanese television series that embodied the aesthetic that later became familiar worldwide as anime. It originated as a manga of the same name in 1952 by Osamu Tezuka, revered in Japan as the "God of Manga." After enjoying success both in Japan and abroad as the first anime to be broadcast overseas, Astro Boy was remade in the 1980s under the same name(s), and in 2003 as Astro Boy: Mighty Atom. It lasted for four seasons, with a total of 193 episodes, the final episode presented on New Year's Eve 1966. At its height it was watched by 40% of the Japanese population who had access to a TV. In 1964, there was a feature-length animated movie called Mighty Atom, the Brave in Space released in Japan. It was an anthology of three episodes; The Robot Spaceship, Last Day on Earth and Earth Defense Squadron. The latter two were filmed in color.

Crime comics comic genre

Crime comics is a genre of American comic books and format of crime fiction. The genre was originally popular in the late 1940s and early 1950s and is marked by a moralistic editorial tone and graphic depictions of violence and criminal activity. Crime comics began in 1942 with the publication of Crime Does Not Pay published by Lev Gleason Publications and edited by Charles Biro. As sales for superhero comic books declined in the years after World War II, other publishers began to emulate the popular format, content and subject matter of Crime Does Not Pay, leading to a deluge of crime-themed comics. Crime and horror comics, especially those published by EC Comics, came under official scrutiny in the late 1940s and early 1950s, leading to legislation in Canada and Great Britain, the creation in the United States of the Comics Magazine Association of America and the imposition of the Comics Code Authority in 1954. This code placed limits on the degree and kind of criminal activity that could be depicted in American comic books, effectively sounding the death knell for crime comics and their adult themes.

Alain Saint-Ogan was a French comics author and artist.

Kitazawa Yasuji, better known by the pen name Kitazawa Rakuten, was a Japanese manga artist and nihonga artist. He drew many editorial cartoons and comic strips during the years from the late Meiji era through the early Shōwa era. He is considered by many historians to be the founding father of modern manga because his work was an inspiration to many younger manga artists and animators.

<i>Zig et Puce</i>

Zig et Puce is a Franco-Belgian comics series created by Alain Saint-Ogan in 1925 that became popular and influential over a long period. After ending production, it was revived by Greg for a second successful publication run.

<i>Diary of Ma-chan</i>

Diary of Mā-chan is a manga by Osamu Tezuka that began serialization in 1946.

<i>Shōnen Book</i>

Shōnen Book was a manga magazine by Shueisha, which debuted March 1958 and ended in April 1969. Shōnen Book was originally a spin-off of Shueisha's Omoshiro Book. Shōnen Book is famously known in Japan for being the predecessor to the company's famous Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine. The Shōnen Book tankōbon manga volumes are published under the Shōnen Speed Ō (少年スピード王) manga imprint. Shōnen Book was a part of Shueisha's former leading magazine line, Book, now Jump. Shōnen Book was created in 1958 as a male version of the short lived Shōjo Book. Omoshiro Book became an offshoot of the magazine, and eventually faded away in the middle of the Shōnen Book timeline. Shōnen Book also served as a root to many other magazines published by Shueisha.

Non-fiction comics

Non-fiction comics, also known as graphic non-fiction, is non-fiction in the comics medium, embracing a variety of formats from comic strips to trade paperbacks.

<i>Rainbow Parakeet</i> manga

Rainbow Parakeet is a manga series created by Osamu Tezuka dealing with the adventures of the eponymous phantom thief. Collected in seven volumes, it has been published in France by Asuka.

<i>Swallowing the Earth</i> manga by Osamu Tezuka

Swallowing the Earth is a manga by Osamu Tezuka serialized in Big Comic and licensed by Digital Manga.


  1. Veach, Michael (2010-09-28). "Mr. Skygack, From Mars". The Filson Historical Society. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  2. Holmes! (2012-08-31). "MR. SKYGACK: SCI-FI COMICS START HERE!". Barnacle Press. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  3. Roberts, Garyn G. (2001). "Buck Rogers". In Browne, Ray B.; Browne, Pat. The Guide To United States Popular Culture. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press. p. 120. ISBN   978-0-87972-821-2.
  4. Gravett, Paul (2005). "Great British Comics: Nostalgia Ain't What It Used To Be". Comics International . Archived from the original on 20 February 2009. Action 's topicality and extreme images sparked a media furore and distributor crackdown, but from its ashes arose 2000AD, the same themes transposed into the 'fantasy' future of science fiction but as dark and disturbing as ever.

Further reading