Did comics influence the comics

The elitist in the arts | literature
The history of the comic

The American comic originated in the 19th century and reached its peak in the 1940s when stars like Superman appeared on the scene. The history of comics and its popularity is marked by a rollercoaster ride that finally found a new medium with the creation of the graphic novel.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the popular print graphics and caricatures in the print media had developed into modern comics within just a few years: pictures lined up in so-called panels on which the comic characters communicate in speech bubbles. These new, popular characters from the comic book sites, such as the Katzenjammer kids, returned week after week with new episodes. These new works appeared for the first time in the colorful Sunday supplements of large American daily newspapers and were reprinted every day all over the world thanks to licensing. There was open hostility between the artists of the elite, who looked down on comics as a capitalist spectacle, and the comic artists, who saw themselves as entertainers and often made fun of the obscure claims of the art world.

Friend of the Comic People, 1906 | © Louis Glackens, Library Of Congress, Wikipedia, edited, CC0-1.0 With the first appearance of Superman in 1938 the comic industry gained its own identity. This enabled the comic to become a successful mass medium, which was to have a significant impact on radio, television and cinema.
 
The tremendous expansion of the comics industry in the 1940s came to an abrupt end in 1952 with a series of catastrophic events and was never to be recovered. The first of these events was an anti-comic war campaign led by Fredric Wertham; the second was the collapse of the comic book distribution system; and the last was the arrival of television.
 
As the comics' popularity waned, the art world fell in love with Roy Lichtenstein's Pop Art. His pictures showed figures that looked as if they came from comics: They were painted in bright colors and overdrawn benday dots and put the absurd spectacle that comics deal with in the foreground.
 
In the late sixties, a growing number of independent publishers created the basis for a new underground comic movement that was clearly aimed more at adults in terms of content. Marvel Comic Verlag has been able to stop its steep decline by offering a new collection of “wounded” superheroes such as Spiderman and the X-Men appealed to a male student audience.

Amazing Spiderman # 25, 1965 | © Dave, Flickr, edited, CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0 During the 80s and early 90s, the comic book industry built on a new distribution system that focused on comic book stores that bought their comics directly from publishers at a discount. As a new service for collectors, comic book shops kept older issues in stock. The collection of comics continued to expand and so there were more and more copies of these collector's editions that were not particularly valuable in the process. In 1992 the comic industry collapsed again and thousands of comic book shops had to go out of business. The proliferation of video games and personal computers had further contributed to the decline in comic book consumption.
 
As mouse von Art Spiegelman published by Pantheon Verlag in 1992, this radically changed the status of comics. mouse has been referred to as a graphic novel, and its status as a favorite with critics has subsequently spawned a wide range of new graphic novels; these were sold in bookstores aimed at an elite audience and were highly praised by literary critics. The new generation of comic artists who created graphic novels defined themselves as artists.

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Robert S. Petersen

© Robert S. Petersen

Robert S. Petersen holds a BA in Art from the University of Santa Cruz and a Masters in Performance Studies from Brown University. He received his PhD in Asian Theater from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In 1988 he studied traditional theater and the arts of Java in Indonesia as a Fulbright scholar. Dr. Petersen is currently an art professor at Eastern Illinois University, teaching courses in the history of comic art and African, Indian, Southeast Asian, Chinese and Japanese arts and culture. Petersen published a study on the history of comic art in 2011 and wrote articles on Japanese manga, British satirical prints, and science fiction comics from the first half of the 20th century.