Ever since mankind discovered the power of having an opposable thumb, we’ve told stories using images.
Evidence of the first illustrated tale came to light in Indonesia during 2016. It depicts a scene that took place over 44,000 years ago.
This story features the superheroes of that time – hunters who provided their kin with life-saving sustenance using little more than their bare hands.
The history of comics as we know and love them begins a lot later though. Let’s find out more.
The Yellow Kid 1895 to 1935
Like these early paintings, the first printed comics as we know them today were straightforward portrayals of the day-to-day occurrences of their time.
Single pane comics appeared in newspapers during the 1800s. Yet, The Yellow Kid comics are the first widely-known comic illustrations and the first ones printed in color. They first appeared in newspapers during 1895 and simply featured a boy in a yellow coat.
The character became known for the social commentary printed on his shirt and readers eagerly waited to hear what he had to say every week.
His popularity in print eventually evolved into a host of merchandise and E.W. Townsend compiled a collection of The Yellow Kid stories in 1938. This was the first comic book ever printed.
The Golden Age
From the 1930s to the 1950s, Captain America and a few other major heroes appeared on the scene, as part of the political propaganda surrounding the war years. During the war, Disney printed educational comic books for circulation among the American troops too.
Captain America achieved immense popularity among soldiers looking for a motivational taste of home and various other superheroes like Wonderwoman and Superman soon followed suit.
Marvel Comics started up in 1939. DC only arrived on the scene in 1956. These two brands still dominate the comic book industry today.
Over the years, both DC and Marvel have introduced numerous new characters and branched out into creating comic books based on popular movies, like Star Wars, too.
Classic Comic Book Heroes
Both major players in the realm of comics regularly bring new relatable heroes and villains into the fray but some of them have stood the test of time.
These are some of our old favorites:
- Batman in 1939
- Flash in 1940
- Catwoman in 1940
- Green Lantern in 1940
- The Justice League 1960
- The Fantastic Four 1960
- The Hulk, Thor, and Spiderman in 1962
- Iron Man 1963
- Black Panther in 1966
The list goes on and on, highlighting the timeless nature of this entertaining art form.
Modern-day comic book heroes are less involved in spreading propaganda and news and focus more on social issues and the age-old theme of good vs evil.
Amazingly, illustrators still draw most comic books by hand, although anyone can make their own comics nowadays with an online comic creator.
Bring Your History of Comics Knowledge into Play
Now you can impress your friends on trivia game night with your insightful knowledge of the history of comics.
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