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Where Did Comics Come From?

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Hey, Comic Strip Lovers!

Interest in Comics has held the fascination of children and adults alike throughout the decades. Summer camps know how cool comic strips are so most are sure to offer a comics program. This art form—and, yes, it IS an art form—is a genius combination of the written word and drawing.

The inventor of comic strips seems to have some confusion surrounding it. Many people credit a Swiss schoolmaster Rodolphe Töpffer who lived in the first half of 19th Century. He published ‘The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck,’ along with others. His work made use of panel frames that are commonplace today but his panels had no space between one another (referred to by cartoonists as ‘the gutter’).

But despite Mr. Rodolphe typically being credited as inventor of the comic strip, it is ‘The Yellow Kid’ which is generally considered to be the first comic strip—first published in the New York World in 1896. ‘The Yellow Kid’ is the work of Richard Fenton Outcault. This strip was a single-panel comic featuring a kid-like cartoon who always wore a yellow garment with words printed on it, giving a short commentary.

‘The Yellow Kid’ gained popularity after the turn of the century along with comic strips altogether. The art medium gradually became more polished with multiple panels and gutters between them. Cartoonists experimented with overlapping panels, word bubbles, and other stylistic choices.

By just 1913, the legendary ‘Krazy Kat’ debuted which would go on to become a great inspiration for modern comic strip artists like Bill Watterson—creator of ‘Calvin and Hobbes’. It was Bill Watterson that I selected to feature last year as an installment to our ‘Pioneers and Record Setters’ Blog post series as he holds many records with his magical strip. Check out that Blog post by clicking here.

Nowadays, comic strips are found in every newspaper and online publication. I wrote the comic strip back in the day for ‘The Mirror’, my college newspaper at Lakeland College. I called it the ‘Chase & Eddie’—two college roommates whose personalities were different sides of myself. Comic strips are a great way to express yourself, even if your drawings are just stick figures! Give it a try for yourself today. As always, thanks for reading! See you in the funny papers.


- John


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