Comic Books and Graphic novelsIn this essay I am going to be discussing the history of comic books and graphic novels fromwhen they first came about up to this present day, showing some popular comic designerssuch as Reg Smythe, Will Eisner, Stan Lee, Alan Moore and Art Spiegelman. The differencebetween comic books and graphic novels is that a graphic novel is a type of comic book,usually with much more lengthy and complex storyline to those of novels, having manymore pages and content than a comic book and often aimed at mature audiences (but notalways). Graphic novels are typically bound in longer and more durable formats thanfamiliar comic books, using the same materials and methods as printed books. A comic bookis a magazine made up of comics, narrative art work in the form of separate panels thatrepresent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog (usually in word balloons). Somefamous artists have had their comic strips made into a movie and I will be explaining somedifferent types that have been made. I will also be showing what I like the most from comicbooks and who is my biggest inspiration of the comic book world. The first ever comic book appeared in the United States in 1933, reprinting theearlier newspaper comic strips, these are of many of the story telling devices used in comics.The term “comic book” began because of the first comic books reprinted humour comicstrips. Despite their name, comic books are not necessarily humorous in tone; moderncomic books tell stories in a variety of genres such as crime, comedy, sci-fi, horror,adventure and many more entertaining genres. Cultural historians divide the career of thecomic book in the United States into several ages or historical eras: Proto-comic books and the platinum age- when they first appeared to the public Golden age- when comic books were popular Silver age- Comics became more advanced Bronze age-Comics were getting turned into movies Modern age-comic books are starting to become as popular again as collector’s items from the proto-comic and the platinum age.The exact definition of graphic novel is debatable; the origins of the art form itself are opento interpretation. Cave paintings have told stories, at the start of the middle ages artistsproduced tapestries and manuscripts that told or helped to tell stories. William Blake wasthe first western artist who interlocked lengthy writing with specific images. Marriage ofHeaven and Hell are one of several books William Blake created with pictures and storyline.United States has a tradition of collecting comic strips in book form; these collections are alonger form comic and are considered as a graphic novel. By modern standards they are a modern form in the development of the graphic novel.
This is an example of what the frontpage of a Beano comic book looks like also the centre pages, to show the graphic art insideof the book which is used to create this form of comic strip. I think that the front page is eyecatching to the comic books main target audience which is children, the writing is bold andstands out so you know the name of the comic book straight away. This image on the frontshows a hint to what will be inside of the comic book making children around the worldwant the product even more because it shows the characters having fun and misbehavingand children can relate to this. The comic strip itself is full of colour and great images to helpthe children to understand and relate to the story. This image of the two page spread hasgot Desperate Dan who is a comical and adventurous and helps the children to get lost intheir own imagination.These are an example of graphic novels aimed at the older audience i.e. from teenagers toadults. Starting with the left image “A Contract with God”. The front page is not as brightand colourful as the comic book, it doesn’t give much of a hint or clue to what the story isabout. And inside the book will only have a few pictures and a lot of writing; this would notattract the younger audience because it looks plain and boring. If I saw this graphic novel onthe shelf I would not pick it up and read it to see what it is about also because the titledoesn’t sound very interesting. The second image on the right is also a graphic novel; it is alot more colourful and bold. I think that the second graphic novel has more chance of beingread than the first one because it looks a lot more interesting.
Many comic books have given many people the inspiration to turn the comics orgraphic novels into a movie and have came very popular. Many famous films have beencreated from comic books such as X-Men Origins: First Class, Wonder woman, The Avengersand many more great comic books. I think the most popular and have been out for quite awhile now is Superman; everyone knows how he was found and what he does. The firstSuperman movie was released on 21st December 1978; it is an action, adventure also so sci-fi movie, it was directed by Richard Donner. The story line is an alien orphan is sent from hisdying planet to earth, where he grows up to become his adoptive homes first and greatestsuper-hero. Some graphic novels have been turned into movies also such as Wake the dead,thirty days of night and the wanted were just few of the graphic novels that were inspiredby directors. Nightmare before Christmas, on screen, Jack Skellington leaps with joy, singingwith wonder at his discovery of Christmas Town. He seems so real, so alive, that we believeboth and his fantastical world must somehow exist. Many comics and graphic novels arebeing turned into movies, I think they are doing this because they are slowly running out ofideas for movie entertainment and to show other people what they think of that comic orbook and how they saw the storyline as a child or throughout their lives that might haveimpacted them to show it that way. My two favourite comic books are the Dandy and the Beano both comic books arevery popular and full of interesting stories. The Dandy is a long running children’s comicbook published in the United Kingdom by D.C Thomson & co. LTD. The first issue wasprinted on the 4th December 1937 and it is the world’s third longest running comic, afterDetective comics (dated March 1937) and Il Giornalino (dated 1st October 1924). From
August 2007until October 2010, it was rebranded as Dandy Xtreme. The Beano is a Britishchildren’s comic, published by D.C Thomson & Co and is arguably their most successful. Thecomic first appeared on 30th July 1938, and was published weekly. During the World War II,The Beano and The Dandy were published on alternating weeks because of the paper andink rationing. Paper and ink supplies were fully restored shortly after the end of hostilitiesand weekly publication of The Beano and The Dandy resumed in 1949. The Beano iscurrently edited by Michael Stirling. In September 2009, the Beano’s 3,500th issue waspublished. I don’t really read graphic novels and wouldn’t know what the best on is so Icannot really comment on my favourite if I don’t read them. My inspiration for comic strips is Andy Capp; this is from a local newspaper but is stilla comic strip. I like this because the character is a local who just wants to enjoy life drinkingalcohol, the individual panels on the comic strip are in black and white but still has a lot ofhumor packed into them. Andy Capp is a British comic strip created by cartoonist RegSmythe (1917-1998), seen in The Daily Mirror and The Sunday Mirror newspapers since 5thAugust 1957. Originally a single panel cartoon, Smythe later expanded it to four panels. Thestrip is syndicated internationally by Creators Syndicate. The character is also licensed as themascot for a line of snack foods (Andy Capp’s Fries) and a defunct chain of miniature golfcourses in Brevard County, Florida. In conclusion I think that Comic books and graphic novels have come a far distancefrom what they originally started from. They are constantly improving on the comic bookand graphic novels, the comic books such as The Dandy and The Beano are getting morecolourful and bold, they are also creating more fun and exciting stories. Graphic novels arealso improving storylines to try and get more readers to buy their product. There are alsographic novels for children who are going into the teenager stage such as the NightmareBefore Christmas, the front of the cover will catch the attention of older children who wantto improve their reading skills.