The Origin of Comics And Superheroes

Comics might be just a page on the entertainment newspaper or a whole book full of captivating story line and artwork. Whatever form it may be presented in, comics have deeply affected the entertainment business and our lives for the last 87 years. Usually comics are depicted with humorous art and speech bubbles for dialogues. The first ever comic book was the ‘Famous Funnies’, a collection of funny comic strips published in 1933. It included humorous comics and also the new addition of longer story-based comic. This was done to make comics approachable by both kids and adults.

This boom in the comic book business paved the path for writers to experiment with new ideas, which finally lead to the creation of superheroes. The first noticeable superheroes were ‘Mandrake the Magician’ (1934) and ‘Phantom’ (1936). This further popularized the comic book trend. Since then the comic book era has been divided into four ages: Golden Age (1938–1950), Silver Age (1956–1970), Bronze Age (1970–1985) and Modern Age (1985–the present). Most prominent superheroes were created by DC and Marvel comics, which are now being recreated into blockbuster movies.

Earlier comics portrayed concepts of patriotism and morality. Introducing superheroes such as ‘Captain America’ and ‘Superman’ in World War II, helped boost the spirit of the public. Children as well as army men were engrossed by these. A survey showed that 44% of the soldiers were avid comic readers. Later, ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Miss America’ were created to support women empowerment. These comic book characters broke the stereotypes and showed women as strong, powerful and independent individuals.

Majorly focusing on humour, the comic book business later branched off into several other genres. Introducing crime, horror, war, romance and kids comics catered to a wide range of audience. The overwhelming success inspired young artists and writers to pursue a career in the comic book business. Over the years great artists like Stan Lee (Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Spider-man, etc.), Alan Moore (Watchmen, Batman, etc.) and Grant Morrison (Doom Patrol, Animal Man, JLA, etc.) have created a huge array of lovable characters.

The launch of comics later inspired film makers to invest in these stories. The first comic to get adapted into a film serial was ‘Mandrake the Magician’ in the year 1939. Later followed by ‘Batman’ in 1943 and ‘Captain America’ in 1944, these tv series and movies didn’t show any signs of stopping. In recent years the number of comic adapted movies has increased substantially. Movie franchises like ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Batman’ further boosted comic book sales. Currently, movie studios like Marvel and DC are worth billions of dollars.

Other than America, other countries like Canada and Japan also tapped into the ever-growing comic book market. Currently the Japanese manga (comic book) is the biggest comic book market. As a keen comic book reader all I can say is that the love for comics doesn’t seem to wane anytime soon. They continue to mesmerize us with beautiful artwork, mind-bending stories and inspiring characters.

Image source : Wikimedia commons, Flickr

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