You probably didn’t know that comics appeared before the newspaper strips. Satirical illustrations (mainly politically oriented) and celebrity cartoons became popular in Europe in the early 18th century. Printers sold cheap color prints to tease politicians and the concerns of the time, and exhibitions of these prints were very popular in Britain and France. The pioneers of this type of comics were two British illustrators, William Hogarth (1697-1764) and George Townsend (1724-1807). Continue reading this article to learn more about the history of American newspaper comics strips.

The Earliest Comics: As political cartoons and independent illustrations became popular in Europe in the early 18th century, artists sought new ways to meet demand. In 1827, Swiss artist RodolpheTöpfer was praised for creating the first multi-part comic, and his first illustrated book is The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck, which he illustrated a decade later. Each of the 40 pages of this book has several panels of illustration with text at the bottom. It achieved great success in Europe, and a version was printed in the United States in 1842 as a supplement to the New Yorker.

American Political Comics: Comics and illustrations have also played an imperative role in American political history. In 1754, Benjamin Franklin created the first editorial cartoon and published it in American newspapers. Franklin illustrated a severed snake head and wrote “join or die” underneath. This cartoon aimed to encourage colonies to join the United States. In the mid-19th century, popular magazines were famous for their luxurious political comics and illustrations. A famous American illustrator, Thomas Nast is known for his satirical illustrations of contemporary issues like enslavement and corruption in NYC. Additionally, Nast is praised for creating donkey and elephant symbols representing the Democratic and Republican parties.

The Yellow Kid: Although several cartoon characters had appeared in American newspapers in the early 1890s, The Yellow Kid by Richard Outcault is often referred to as the first real comic strip. The Colored Strip was first published in New York World in 1895 and was the first to use speech bubbles and a series of special panels to display comic narratives. The progress of The Yellow Kid quickly spawned many imitators, including Katzenjammer Kids. In 1912, the New York Evening Journal became the first newspaper with a whole page dedicated to comic strips and single-pannel cartoons. In a decade, perennial cartoons such as Gasoline Alley, Popeye, and Little Orphan Annie have appeared in newspapers across the country. Finally, in the 1930s, full-color comics began to appear in newspapers.

The Golden Era: The mid-20th century is considered the golden age of newspaper comics. At that time, comic strips appeared, and newspapers sales flourished. For example, Detective Dick Tracy first appeared in 1931; then Peanuts and Beetle Bailey were both published in 1950. Other famous comics are Doonesbury (1970), Garfield (1978), Bloom County (1980), and Calvin and Hobbes (1985). However, newspaper circulation has plummeted since it peaked in 1990, and comics have also declined. Fortunately, the 21st century is experiencing a growth in online comics, which acts as an archive for old classic newspaper comics.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.