BRIEF HISTORY OF COMICS
The history of comics has followed different paths in different parts of the world. It can be traced
back to early precursors such as
Trajan's Column, in Rome, Egyptian hieroglyphs
and the Bayeux Tapestry and other medieval tapestries.
Is a roman triumphal
column in Rome, Italy,
Roman emperor Trajan
´s victory in the Dacian
Hieroglyphs. Are the characters of the ancient Egyptian writing
The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth—not an actual tapestry, which depicts the
events leading up to the Norman conquest of England concerning William, Duke of
Normandy, and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of
Hastings. It was made in England in the 1070s.
These images (Trajan´s column, hieroglyphics, tapestries…) are early surviving examples of narrative told
trough sequential pictures. These works combines sequential images and words to tell a story. Its
intentions were to communicate.
However, these works did not travel to the reader; it took the invention of modern printing techniques to
bring the form to a wide audience and become a mass medium.
The invention of the printing press, allowing movable type, established a separation between images and
words, the two requiring different methods in order to be reproduced. Early printed material was
concentrated on religious subjects, but through the 17th and 18th centuries, they began to reflect
aspects of political and social life, and also started to satirize and caricature. It was also during this
period that the speech bubble was developed as a means of attributing dialogue.
A page by Rodolphe Töpffer, whose work is considered influential in shaping the comics form.
Rodolphe Töpffer, a
francophone Swiss artist,
was a key figure in the early
part of the 19th century.
Though speech bubbles lost
popularity during the middle
19th century, Töpffer's
stories, with text
images, were reprinted
throughout Europe and the
United States. The lack of
copyright laws at the time
meant that pirated editions
proliferated, and translated
versions created a market on
both continents for similar
The Glasgow Looking Glass, published in 1826, was
arguably the first comic strip. A satirical
publication, later known as The Northern Looking
Glass, that lampooned the fashions and politics of
the times. It had all of the elements that make up
the modern comic, including pictures with captions
that display a continuous narrative given often in
installments, and the use of speech bubbles,
satire and caricature.
In 1845, the satirical drawings, which regularly appeared in
newspapers and magazines, gained a name: cartoons.
Many popular magazines included cartoons, in Europe as in United
20th CENTURY AND THE MASS MEDIA
During the 1920s and 1930s the industry is booming and prosperity. The market for comic anthologies in Britain
began to target children through juvenile humor, with The Dandy and The Beano. In Belgium, Hergé created
The Tintin´s adventures, a newspaper strip on a comic supplement; this was successfully collected in a bound
album and a new market was created for such works. During the same period in the United States, we can see
newspaper strips expand their subject matter beyond humour, with action, adventure and mystery strips.
• Soon, a market for such comic books
appeared. In 1938 Action Comics launched
• The popularity of the character swiftly
enshrined the superhero as the defining
genre of American comics. The genre lost
popularity in the 1950s but re-established
its domination from the
1960s until the late 20th century.
What is known as the golden age in America goes from 1938-1956. In those ages
appeared heroes like Superman, Batman and the first heroine, Wonderwoman.
• In Japan, a country with an ancient tradition of illustration and whose writing
system was evolved from pictures, comics were hugely popular.
Osamu Tezuka, was an important Japanese comic creator who developed a filmic
style, heavily influenced by the Disney animations of the time.
Contemporary comic and manga films.
Sir Ernst Gombrich (an art historian) wrote in 1972 that Töpffer had
evolved a new pictorial language, an abbreviated art style, which allowed
the audience to fill in gaps their imagination.
• Nowadays, the comic is an important
creative resource, widely used by many
artists worldwide. Currently we have
countless technical resources to perform
sophisticated creations, by using different
tools and styles.
• The comic is a way to enjoy drawing,
literature, film, graphic novel ...
Bibliografía / Bibliography:
BASIC BIBLIOGRAPHY ABOUT COMIC (In Spanish)
THEORY AND COMIC LENGUAGE
• EISNER, Will. El cómic y el arte secuencial. Barcelona, Norma.
-La narración gráfica. Barcelona, Norma.
GARCÍA, Sergio. Anatomía de una historieta. Madrid, Sinsentido, 2004.
GASCA, Luis y GUBERN, Roman, El discurso del cómic, Madrid, Cátedra, 1991.
• -Diccionario de onomatopeyas del cómic, Cátedra, Madrid, , 2008.
• GUBERN, Roman. El lenguaje de los cómics. Barcelona, Península, 1972.
• McCLOUD, Scott. Entender el cómic, El arte invisible, Bilbao, Astiberri, 2005.
-Hacer cómics: secretos narrativos del cómic, el manga y la novela gráfica,
• Bilbao, Astiberri, 2007.
BIBLIOGRAPHY ABOUT THE COMIC HISTORY. SCHOOLS, GENRES AND AUTHORS
• EISNER, Will, Shop talk. Conversaciones con Will Eisner, Barcelona, Norma, 2005.
EISNER, Will y MILLER, Frank, Eisner/Miller, Barcelona, Norma, 2006.
GUIRAL, Antonio (coord.), Una historia de los cómics (12 vols. algunos pendientes de
publicación), Girona, Panini España, 2007–?
VVAA, Historia de los cómics. 4 vols., Barcelona, Toutain Editor, 1982.
HOW TO CREATE A COMIC:
• Anything you have in your mind can be expressed with the help of a comic strip.
It is another way of communication.
• There is a plot, and some characters you should define first.
• There is a lot of freedom when we are creating the plot. Time can be past,
present or future. And space can be real or imaginary.
• Strip pages: It has to do with the sequence you want to tell.
• Framing: (The same as in photography)
• CLOSE UP: primer plano. The face of a character.
• EXTREME CLOSE UP. (Details). Elements, eyes, flower…
• MEDIUM CLOSE UP: You can appreciate the expression.
• MID SHOT: You show the attitude.
• WIDE SHOT: You see the character and the action.
• VERY WIDE SHOT: When you want to show more than one character.
• EXTREME WIDE SHOT: It shows the place where it is happening.
• SPEECH BALLONS: Dialogues.
• GESTURES AND MOVEMENT, PROCESS IN A COMIC ( pages 70 – 71 book)
-BOOM: Explosión. Auge, prosperidad.
-BOUND: Atado, cubierta dura, tapa dura.
-SWIFTLY (Adv): Rápidamente, velozmente,
-PATHS: Vereda, camino, ruta, trayectoria.
-LEAD UP: Lead (sb) to, guiar, dirigir…
-MASS MEDIA: Medios comunicación
-LACK OF: Carecer, falta de…
-TARGET: Meta, propósito, objetivo, goal,
-ENSHRINED: ENSHRINE Consagrar
-TO FILL IN GAPS: Llenar vacíos, huecos…
-SHAPING: Dar forma, modelar.
-EVOLVE: Desarrollarse, evolucionar.
-WIDE SHOT: Plano general.
-FRAMING: Marco, composición.
-CLOSE UP: Primer plano, de cerca, detallado.
- TO TRACE BACK: Rastrear el origen
- TAPESTRY: Tapiz
- HIEROGLYPH, HIEROGLYPHIC: Jeroglíficos
- EMBROIDERED: Bordado. To embroider: Bordar.
- EARL: Conde
- TACKLE: Abordar
- PRINTING PRESS: Imprenta, impresora.
- INSTALLMENT: Capítulo, episodio, entrega, plazo
- ARGUABLY (Adv): Open to debate. Poder decir.
- STRIP: Tira (comic strip)
- LAMPOON: Sátira, parodia
- TO LAMPOON: Satirizar, burlarse de…
- MAKE UP: Inventar, constituir, preparar, formar,
hacer las paces (make up with sb), make-up:
- SPEECH BUBBLE: Globo de diálogo, bocadillo.
- FALL OUT OF FAVOUR: To lose popularity
- FURTHER: Más a fondo, más lejos, impulsar,
promover, promote, advance.