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Comics, as an artistic medium and a special form of printed story, have been in existence since the late 19th Century. Like all artistic items comics also underwent development and thereby also influenced many other artistic disciplines.

History of Comics

Eva Ledecká
02.Feb 2017
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2 minutes

“Comics are a gateway drug to literacy.” - Art Spiegelman, Comic Cartoonist, Editor and Writer from New Yorkand the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Maus.

Comics originated in America and considered as their creator is F. Outcault with his luxuriously comic story “The Yellow Kid”. At the beginning of the 19th Century comics were issued as supplements to newspapers and magazines. The first comics monthly did not appear until 1922 and were then issued under the self-evident title “Comics Monthly”. It was also at that time that a popular comic story about Tarzan by Hal Foster and Mickey Mouse from Disney first saw the light of day.

Batman and Superman

The golden era of comics came a little later, however, with the arrival of the famous and popular heroes - Batman and Superman. The first issue of Superman sold for 10 cents and 200,000 copies of it were printed. Its seventh sequel was printed in an enormous circulation of half a million copies.

Byt s výhledem na Prahu - Karlín - 308m
Byt s výhledem na Prahu - Karlín - 308m, Praha 8

Batman first appeared only a few years later than Superman; Bob Kane drew him in 1939, who was inspired by a luxury flying machine designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Superman and Batman have similar characteristics: both of them help people and fight against evil forces. However, unlike Superman, Batman lacks any supernatural powers.

People loved comics because they represented something entirely new and, through the vivid illustrations, they were able to experience more interesting stories than time then allowed. In the mid-20th Century there were 400 different characters who were similar to Batman and Superman.

Heroes of a New Era appear on the Scene

Just as the world was changing comics were also changing too. Humanity became interested in space and the popularity of the sci-fi genre started to soar. Marvel Comics, which today, together with DC Comics, belongs to one of the world’s largest publishers of comics, came-up with a new hero figure, who was none other than the famous X-Man.

The year 1963 saw the appearance of another character who was to become a world hero. Spiderman, with his exceptional abilities, remains popular to this day and you will hardly find a child who is not familiar with him.

Manga in Japan

It would be a mistake, however, to remain in the United States and to miss the Asian continent. It is Japan that is the largest producer of the comic titles that are called manga. The popularity of these stories and their exciting heroes has grown to such an extent that you can meet their replicas, young people in costumes, casually on the streets of Japan.

Mirek Dušín in Czechia

Neither was the Czech Republic spared from comics. Think, for example, about the stories in “Rychlé šípy” (Fast Arrows) that featured the “good boy” hero Mirek Dušín. Though he is pretty far from being an action superhero figure he does have a lot of the same characteristics and he also tries very hard to fight against evil.

Comics also influenced the visual arts (e.g. Roy Lichtenstein), cinematography (Spiderman, Batman, Sin City – the Miramax film company) and especially the consumer market. Luxury characters of Superman, Batman, X-Man and Spiderman can be found on almost everything, from socks to electronics.

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