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Carl Barks, Donald Duck comics artist

Carl Barks,
Donald Duck comics artist

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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The Superman film series consists of five superhero films based on the DC Comics character of the same name. The films contain storylines such as Superman's origin story, growing up in Smallville, fighting Kryptonian supervillains and Lex Luthor, romancing with Lois Lane, and returning to Earth after a long visit to Krypton. Warner Bros. has served as main distributor of all films. Ilya and Alexander Salkind and Pierre Spengler had purchased the Superman film rights in 1973. After numerous scripts, Richard Donner was hired to direct the film, filming Superman and Superman II simultaneously. Donner had already shot 80% of Superman II before it was decided to finish shooting the first film. Richard Lester finished with II and returned for Superman III. Upon gaining the rights for Superman, Alexander Salkind and his son, Ilya Salkind, had also purchased the rights to the character of Supergirl, which resullted in the 1984 spin off Supergirl. Cannon Films acquired the film rights to Superman, resulting in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. With over 15 years of development for a fifth Superman film, Superman Returns was released, directed by Bryan Singer. Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut was released the same year. Critics have given positive reviews for Superman, Superman II, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut and Superman Returns, while Superman III, Supergirl and Superman IV have been met with negative feedback.

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Carl Barks in Finland in 1994
Credit: J-E Nyström

Carl Barks (March 27, 1901 – August 25, 2000) was an American Disney Studio illustrator and comic book creator, who invented Duckburg and many of its inhabitants, such as Scrooge McDuck (1947), Gladstone Gander (1948), the Beagle Boys (1951), The Junior Woodchucks (1951), Gyro Gearloose (1952), Cornelius Coot (1952), Flintheart Glomgold (1956), John D. Rockerduck (1961) and Magica De Spell (1961). The quality of his scripts and drawings earned him the nicknames The Duck Man and The Good Duck Artist. Writer-artist Will Eisner called him "the Hans Christian Andersen of comic books."


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Michael Netzer

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Bob Kane had an idea for a character called "Batman", and he'd like me to see the drawings. I went over to Kane's, and he had drawn a character who looked very much like Superman with kind of ... reddish tights, I believe, with boots ... no gloves, no gauntlets ... with a small domino mask, swinging on a rope. He had two stiff wings that were sticking out, looking like bat wings. And under it was a big sign ... BATMAN.

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