The history of comics

The history of comics

Paloma Corredor. The history of comics* (originally published by Editoral LIBSA, Madrid in 2020 under the title El Cómic)

Nowadays, we consume a lot of image-based content on the Internet, so it’s no wonder that comics are also very popular. Storytelling in pictures is as old as humanity itself: even prehistoric people expressed their thoughts with cave drawings. The immediate predecessor of the comics/graphic novel genre was the political caricature published first time in 1830, and then the comics reached their first glory days at the beginning of the 20th century. Geographically, it can be divided into American, European, Latin American and Japanese comics. According to their genre, they can be about superheroes, science-fiction, comedy-satirical, war, fantasy, criminal or historical. They can be addressed to adults or children.

Tarzan, Dick Tracy and Flash Gordon were the first representatives of the genre in the United States. They were followed by Superman, Batman (whose character was inspired by Zorro), Captain America and Wonder Woman. The Phantom was an interesting exception: a pioneer of comic heroes who had no superpowers. The mysterious hero is the last representative of a 300-year-old generation of legendary vigilante.

In Latin America, Argentina was the leader in comics. One of the iconic series is the post-apocalyptic work El Eternauta (The Traveler of Eternity*), which metaphorically depicts the political uncertainty in the country in the 1970s.

In Europe, the most influential works are the Belgian and Belgian-French comics Tintin and Spirou, which represent different styles (while Tintin’s figures are simple and static, Spirou’s graphics are colorful, his characters move accentually and the artist likes to use the play of light and shadow) and they competed with each other for readers. The adventures of the Belgian Lucky Luke and the French Asterix are also famous, you can read more about the latter here.

Some people see comics as a light entertainment or easy reading, but the stories can express serious content, and the illustrations can be equivalent to other works of art.

*my translation