Portal:Comics

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Comics is a medium used to express ideas via images, often combined with text or other visual information. Comics frequently takes the form of juxtaposed sequences of panels of images. Often textual devices such as speech balloons, captions, and onomatopoeia indicate dialogue, narration, sound effects, or other information. Size and arrangement of panels contribute to narrative pacing. Cartooning and similar forms of illustration are the most common image-making means in comics; fumetti is a form which uses photographic images. Common forms of comics include comic strips, editorial and gag cartoons, and comic books. Since the late 20th century, bound volumes such as graphic novels, comics albums, and tankōbon have become increasingly common, and online webcomics have proliferated in the 21st century.

The history of comics has followed divergent paths in different cultures. Some scholars have posited a pre-history as far back as the Lascaux cave paintings. By the mid-20th century, comics flourished particularly in the United States, western Europe (especially in France and Belgium), and Japan. The history of European comics is often traced to Rodolphe Töpffer's cartoon strips of the 1830s, and became popular following the success in the 1930s of strips and books such as The Adventures of Tintin. American comics emerged as a mass medium in the early 20th century with the advent of newspaper comic strips; magazine-style comic books followed in the 1930s. Histories of Japanese comics and cartooning (manga) propose origins as early as the 12th century. Modern comic strips emerged in Japan in the early 20th-century, and the output of comics magazines and books rapidly expanded in the post-World War II era with the popularity of cartoonists such as Osamu Tezuka.

Comics has had a lowbrow reputation for much of its history, but towards the end of the 20th century began to find greater acceptance with the public and within academia. The English term comics derives from the humorous (or comic) work which predominated in early American newspaper comic strips; usage of the term has become standard also for non-humorous works. It is common in English to refer to the comics of different cultures by the terms used in their original languages, such as manga for Japanese comics, or bandes dessinées for French-language comics. There is no consensus amongst theorists and historians on a definition of comics; some emphasize the combination of images and text, some sequentiality or other image relations, and others historical aspects such as mass reproduction or the use of recurring characters. The increasing cross-pollination of concepts from different comics cultures and eras has further made defining the medium difficult.

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Selected article

The Adventures of Tintin (Les Aventures de Tintin) is a series of comic strip narratives created by Georges Remi under the pseudonym Hergé (a reversal of his initials, R G, as pronounced in French). They first appeared in French in a children's supplement to the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle in 1929. Set in a painstakingly researched world closely mirroring our own, The Adventures of Tintin present a number of well realised characters in distinctive settings. The series has continued as a favourite of readers and critics alike for over 70 years. The hero of the series is the titular character, Tintin, a young reporter and traveller. He is aided in his adventures from the beginning by his faithful dog Snowy (Milou in French). Later, popular additions to the cast included Captain Haddock and other colourful supporting characters. The success of the series saw the serialised strips collected into a series of albums, spun into a successful magazine and adapted for both film and theatre. The series is one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century, with translations published in over 50 languages and more than 200 million copies of the books sold to date.

Selected picture

Samson, on the cover of Fantastic Comics #1 (1939)
Credit: Fox Feature Syndicate

Samson was a fictional superhero that appeared in comic books published by Fox Feature Syndicate. He first appeared in Fantastic Comics #1 (Dec. 1939). The writer was uncredited, but is believed to be Will Eisner; the artist was Alex Blum, using the pseudonym "Alex Boon".

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Selected biography

Hergé

Georges Prosper Remi (22 May 1907 – 3 March 1983), better known by the pen name Hergé, was a Belgian comics writer and artist. His best known and most substantial work is the 23 completed comic books in The Adventures of Tintin series, which he wrote and illustrated from 1929 until his death in 1983, although he was also responsible for other well known comic book series such as Quick & Flupke (1930–1940) and Jo, Zette and Jocko (1936–1957). Born into a middle-class family in Etterbeek, Brussels, he took a keen interest in Scouting in early life, something that would prove highly influential on his later work. Initially producing illustrations for Belgian Scouting magazines, in 1927 he began working for the conservative newspaper Le XXe Siècle, where he adopted the pen name "Hergé" [ɛʁʒe], based upon the French pronunciation of "RG", his initials reversed. It was here, in 1929, that he began serialising the first of the Adventures of Tintin, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets. The notable qualities of the Tintin stories include their vivid humanism, a realistic feel produced by meticulous and wide ranging research, and Hergé's ligne claire drawing style. Adult readers enjoy the many satirical references to the history and politics of the 20th century. The Blue Lotus, for example, was inspired by the Mukden incident that led to the Chinese-Japanese War of 1934. King Ottokar's Sceptre could be read against the background of Hitler's Anschluss or in the context of the struggle between the Romanian Iron Guard and the King of Romania, Carol II; whilst later albums such as The Calculus Affair depict the Cold War. Hergé has become one of the most famous Belgians worldwide and Tintin is still an international success. Hergé is a prominent national hero in his native country, to the extent where he has been described as the actual "personification of Belgium". The long-awaited Hergé Museum was opened in Louvain-La-Neuve on 2 June 2009. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Christian de Portzamparc, the museum reflects Hergé's huge corpus of work which has, until now, been sitting in studios and bank vaults. His work remains a strong influence on comics, particularly in Europe. He was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2003.

Did you know...

Did you know?
  • ...that Harvey Pekar described his collaboration with Heather Roberson on the comic book Macedonia as one of the best working relationships he has ever had?
  • ... that the graphic novel Building Stories by Chris Ware was published as a box that contained fourteen printed objects, including cloth-bound books, newspapers, broadsheets, and flip books?


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...if the form is to say something important, rather than just involve itself in the kinetic thrill of drawn characters chasing each other, then we have to think harder.

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