Comic Strips (4)


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With the development of the internet, they began to appear online as webcomics. There were more than different comic strips and daily cartoon panels in American newspapers alone each day for most of the 20th century, for a total of at least 7,, episodes. As the name implies, comic strips can be humorous for example, " gag-a-day " strips such as Blondie , Bringing Up Father , Marmaduke , and Pearls Before Swine.

Starting in the late s, comic strips expanded from their mirthful origins to feature adventure stories, as seen in Popeye , Captain Easy , Buck Rogers , Tarzan , and Terry and the pirates. Soap-opera continuity strips such as Judge Parker and Mary Worth gained popularity in the s. All are called, generically, comic strips, though cartoonist Will Eisner has suggested that "sequential art" would be a better genre-neutral name.

In the UK and the rest of Europe , comic strips are also serialized in comic book magazines, with a strip's story sometimes continuing over three pages or more. Comic strips have appeared in American magazines such as Liberty and Boys' Life and also on the front covers of magazines, such as the Flossy Frills series on The American Weekly Sunday newspaper supplement.


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Storytelling using a sequence of pictures has existed through history. One medieval European example in textile form is the Bayeux Tapestry. Printed examples emerged in 19th-century Germany and in 18th-century England, where some of the first satirical or humorous sequential narrative drawings were produced. William Hogarth 's 18th century English cartoons include both narrative sequences, such as A Rake's Progress , and single panels. The Biblia pauperum "Paupers' Bible" , a tradition of picture Bibles beginning in the later Middle Ages , sometimes depicted Biblical events with words spoken by the figures in the miniatures written on scrolls coming out of their mouths—which makes them to some extent ancestors of the modern cartoon strips.

In China, with its traditions of block printing and of the incorporation of text with image, experiments with what became lianhuanhua date back to The first newspaper comic strips appeared in North America in the late 19th century. However, the art form combining words and pictures developed gradually and there are many examples which led up to the comic strip.

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His illustrated stories such as Histoire de M. In , German painter, author, and caricaturist Wilhelm Busch created the strip Max and Moritz , about two trouble-making boys, which had a direct influence on the American comic strip. Max and Moritz was a series of seven severely moralistic tales in the vein of German children's stories such as Struwwelpeter "Shockheaded Peter". In the story's final act, the boys, after perpetrating some mischief, are tossed into a sack of grain, run through a mill, and consumed by a flock of geese without anybody mourning their demise.

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Max and Moritz provided an inspiration for German immigrant Rudolph Dirks [5] , who created the Katzenjammer Kids in - a strip starring two German-American boys visually modelled on Max and Moritz. Familiar comic-strip iconography such as stars for pain, sawing logs for snoring, speech balloons, and thought balloons originated in Dirks' strip.

Hugely popular, Katzenjammer Kids occasioned one of the first comic-strip copyright ownership suits in the history of the medium. When Dirks left William Randolph Hearst for the promise of a better salary under Joseph Pulitzer , it was an unusual move, since cartoonists regularly deserted Pulitzer for Hearst.

In a highly unusual court decision, Hearst retained the rights to the name "Katzenjammer Kids", while creator Dirks retained the rights to the characters. Hearst promptly hired Harold Knerr to draw his own version of the strip. Thus, two versions distributed by rival syndicates graced the comics pages for decades. Dirks' version, eventually distributed by United Feature Syndicate , ran until In the United States, the great popularity of comics sprang from the newspaper war onwards between Pulitzer and Hearst. The Little Bears —96 was the first American comic strip with recurring characters, while the first color comic supplement was published by the Chicago Inter-Ocean sometime in the latter half of , followed by the New York Journal ' s first color Sunday comic pages in Most newspaper comic strips are syndicated; a syndicate hires people to write and draw a strip and then distributes it to many newspapers for a fee.

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Some newspaper strips begin or remain exclusive to one newspaper. For example, the Pogo comic strip by Walt Kelly originally appeared only in the New York Star in and was not picked up for syndication until the following year. Newspaper comic strips come in two different types: daily strips and Sunday strips. In the United States, a daily strip appears in newspapers on weekdays, Monday through Saturday, as contrasted with a Sunday strip, which typically only appears on Sundays.

Daily strips usually are printed in black and white, and Sunday strips are usually in color. However, a few newspapers have published daily strips in color, and some newspapers have published Sunday strips in black and white. While in the early 20th century comic strips were a frequent target for detractors of "yellow journalism", by the s the medium became wildly popular.

While radio, and later, television surpassed newspapers as a means of entertainment, most comic strip characters were widely recognizable until the s, and the "funny pages" were often arranged in a way they appeared at the front of Sunday editions. In , George Gallup's first poll had the comic section as the most important part of the newspaper, with additional surveys pointing out that the comic strips were the second most popular feature after the picture page.

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During the s, many comic sections had between 12 and 16 pages, although in some cases, these had up to 24 pages. The popularity and accessibility of strips meant they were often clipped and saved; authors including John Updike and Ray Bradbury have written about their childhood collections of clipped strips. Often posted on bulletin boards , clipped strips had an ancillary form of distribution when they were faxed, photocopied or mailed. The two conventional formats for newspaper comics are strips and single gag panels. The strips are usually displayed horizontally, wider than they are tall.


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Single panels are square, circular or taller than they are wide. Strips usually, but not always, are broken up into several smaller panels with continuity from panel to panel. A horizontal strip can also be used for a single panel with a single gag, as seen occasionally in Mike Peters ' Mother Goose and Grimm.

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Early daily strips were large, often running the entire width of the newspaper, and were sometimes three or more inches high. By the s, many newspapers had a comics page on which many strips were collected together. Proof sheets were the means by which syndicates provided newspapers with black-and-white line art for the reproduction of strips which they arranged to have colored in the case of Sunday strips. Michigan State University Comic Art Collection librarian Randy Scott describes these as "large sheets of paper on which newspaper comics have traditionally been distributed to subscribing newspapers.

Typically each sheet will have either six daily strips of a given title or one Sunday strip. Thus, a week of Beetle Bailey would arrive at the Lansing State Journal in two sheets, printed much larger than the final version and ready to be cut apart and fitted into the local comics page. He also notes that with electronic means of distribution becoming more prevalent printed sheets "are definitely on their way out.

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NEA Syndicate experimented briefly with a two-tier daily strip, Star Hawks , but after a few years, Star Hawks dropped down to a single tier. In Flanders , the two-tier strip is the standard publication style of most daily strips like Spike and Suzy and Nero. Single panels usually, but not always, are not broken up and lack continuity.

The daily Peanuts is a strip, and the daily Dennis the Menace is a single panel. Jimmy Hatlo 's They'll Do It Every Time was often displayed in a two-panel format with the first panel showing some deceptive, pretentious, unwitting or scheming human behavior and the second panel revealing the truth of the situation. Sunday newspapers traditionally included a special color section. Early Sunday strips known colloquially as "the funny papers", shortened to "the funnies" , such as Thimble Theatre and Little Orphan Annie , filled an entire newspaper page, a format known to collectors as full page.

Sunday pages during the s and into the s often carried a secondary strip by the same artist as the main strip. No matter whether it appeared above or below a main strip, the extra strip was known as the topper , such as The Squirrel Cage which ran along with Room and Board , both drawn by Gene Ahern. During the s, the original art for a Sunday strip was usually drawn quite large. Full-page strips were eventually replaced by strips half that size. Strips such as The Phantom and Terry and the Pirates began appearing in a format of two strips to a page in full-size newspapers, such as the New Orleans Times Picayune , or with one strip on a tabloid page, as in the Chicago Sun-Times.

When Sunday strips began to appear in more than one format, it became necessary for the cartoonist to allow for rearranged, cropped or dropped panels. After the war, strips continued to get smaller and smaller because of increased paper and printing costs. The last full-page comic strip was the Prince Valiant strip for 11 April Comic strips have also been published in Sunday newspaper magazines.

Beginning January 26, , it ran on the front covers of Hearst's American Weekly newspaper magazine supplement, continuing until March 30 of that year. Between and , four different stories featuring Flossy appeared on American Weekly covers. Sunday comics sections employed offset color printing with multiple print runs imitating a wide range of colors.

The origins of the comic strip

Printing plates were created with four or more colors—traditionally, the CMYK color model : cyan, magenta, yellow and "K" for black. With a screen of tiny dots on each printing plate, the dots allowed an image to be printed in a halftone that appears to the eye in different gradations. The semi-opaque property of ink allows halftone dots of different colors to create an optical effect of full-color imagery. The decade of the s saw the rise of underground newspapers , which often carried comic strips, such as Fritz the Cat and The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

Zippy the Pinhead initially appeared in underground publications in the s before being syndicated. Underground comic strips covered subjects that are usually taboo in newspaper strips, such as sex and drugs. Jay Lynch graduated from undergrounds to alternative weekly newspapers to Mad and children's books.

English engravers, inspired by the Dutch example and led by Francis Barlow, retailed the complex political events of the period e. The earliest strips concerning private morality are German and recount atrocious forms of murder and their public punishment, the emphasis shifting from the latter in the 16th century to the former in the 18th century.

The crime strip eventually developed into the more or less exaggerated and romanticized life of the famous brigand, which is the precursor of the early 20th-century detective strip. Narratives based on a wider spectrum of immoral and criminal behaviour took as their point of departure illustrations for the parable of the prodigal son, woodcut versions of which, independent of the biblical text, were first produced by Cornelis Anthonisz of Amsterdam.

The riotous living of the prodigal, enriched with elements from illustrations for the seven deadly sins see deadly sin and the Ten Commandments , was distilled in various Italian lives of harlots and rakes, the most comprehensive and drastic of which are midth-century Venetian. A generation later the Bolognese artist G. Mitelli was giving his narrative and seminarrative satires almost caricatural moral emphasis. German artists in the 17th century specialized in satirically exposing the tyranny of shrewish wives and proposing violent remedies.

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