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COMICS are a group of drawings, typically arranged horizontally on the page of a newspaper, a magazine, or a book, that read as a narrative. The drawings bring the story, but words may appear to boost the narration. Text, when included, frequently relies upon the use of discussion to share info and on onomatopoeic sounds, such as Wham! Pow! Slam!, to enhance the action. The Yellow Kid (1895) was among the first to regularly employ text within the narrative frame by writing words on the shirt of “the Kid.” Because the late nineteenth century, comics have usually featured an everyday cast of characters, and contain either a full story or a series of episodes.

Modern comics have a lot of forms: the single-frame story, in which one picture conveys the complete tale, depends on common depiction and series of spatial relationships within the frame; the gag strip, made up of 3 or 4 pictures with a joke in the last frame, such as Sad Sack (1942); the serial strip, which shows a new piece of the story every day or once a week, such as Terry and the Pirates (created in 1934 by Milton Caniff); and the comic book, in which full stories are contained within the pages, the first of which, Funnies on Parade, was published by Procter and Gamble in 1933 and sold for ten cents. Through the late 1940s, a lot more than 50 million copies of comic books were sold a month. The first comic strips were syndicated in 1914, and any small-town newspaper could get them. Through the mid-twentieth century, Chic Young’s Blondie was probably the most extremely syndicated comic strip in the world, and Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey, which displayed an American irreverence to military authority, was syndicated in more than fifty countries.

The modern comic emerged from three types of visual art: mural arts, humorous cartoons, and the photo-graphic arts. As an art form of social commentary, the modern comic strips are also a direct outgrowth of the nineteenth-century humorous cartoon, which was often a political or social comment. Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827) pioneered political cartooning with the creation of a normal character, Dr. Syntax. George Cruikshank (1792-1878) introduced dialogue within the frame, commonly contained in balloons. The narrative sequences of William Hogarth (i) translated caricature into an art form and showed the succession of narrative pictures featuring a regular cast. For portrayal of action, comics are indebted to Eadweard Muybridge’s “Study of the Body in Motion,” a series of photographs of a galloping horse, which became the reason for creative depiction of basic elements of action. Other historians credit the Swiss artist Rodolphe Töppfer (1799-1846) with the first knowing of the expressive qualities of line that permit an array of exaggerated facial expression in his collection of picture stories, Histoires en estampes (1846).