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April 2010
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The Highlights of Comic History!
From comic strips to comic books, take a look at fun facts about the funnies!

From newspaper comic strips to highly collectable comic book series, the art of comics has entertained and enlightened folks for generations. Get a glimpse of some key characters and turning points in the pages of comic history!

Everyone enjoys a good laugh, a good story and an escape into a world of superheroes, villains and hapless damsels now and then. From Spider-Man and Superman to Peanuts and Brenda Starr, comic art has made an undeniable imprint on pop culture, but where did it all begin? 

According to most comic historians, the first comic book was published in 1837. It was 40 pages long and featured multiple blocks of graphics with text written beneath. The story, called The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck, was created by a Swedish man by the name of Rudolph Töpffer and was published in the United States. Another early comic was a German tale known as Max und Moritz, which appeared in 1865. A strip called The Yellow Kid is noted as being the first to use thought bubbles and dialogue bubbles, which appeared in 1895.

The term ‘comic’, used to describe the strip of squares filled with hilarious antics and depictions, joined the lexicon sometime in the early 20th century. This was a time when newspapers frequently ran the silly strips that received many chuckles and thus became known as “comics” and “funnies.”

Superman was penned by two young fellows named Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. Surprisingly, their original version of the character was rather different from the super-human hero whom we know and love today. In the original rendition, Superman was an evil villain. Thankfully, he became a foe-fighting hero instead! Superman made the cover of a comic book for the first time in 1938, when he appeared on the cover of Action Comics, which sold on newsstands for a price of only 10 cents. Reportedly, a copy of this now-scarce comic book was recently sold through an online auction for one million dollars.

Spider-Man appeared on newsstands for the first time in the early 1960s in a comic book called Amazing Fantasy! Spider-Man, like his Superman counterpart, has enjoyed a long presence in pop culture with movies that have brought the character from the page to the big screen several times.

Brenda Starr became the comic world’s leading lady in 1940 when the strip featuring the daring and beautiful reporter first appeared in the Chicago Tribune. Brenda Starr was created by a woman named Dale Messick who is recognized as one of the first famous woman cartoonists. Messick would continue to draw Brenda for more than four decades. During the height of its popularity in the 1950s, the Brenda Starr comic strip appeared in more than 250 newspapers!

Comic strips that won the readership and hearts of many over the years include Peanuts, created by Charles Schulz. This strip features the lovable Charlie Brown and his adorable beagle, Snoopy. This comic, which was first called Li’l Folks, got off to a slow start. What began as a single-square comic published weekly by the St. Paul Pioneer Press, later expanded to a full strip that was published in syndication the world over. Peanuts enjoyed one of the longest runs in comic history, spanning almost 50 years, and remains a well-known classic!

Be a part of comic history; dig out your old comic book collection or pick up the latest edition! Sit down with a newspaper comic strip or a comic book and enjoy a laugh or an adventurous tale!


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