Portal:Comics

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Introduction

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Comics is a medium used to express ideas by still 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, comic albums, and tankōbon have become increasingly common, while online webcomics have proliferated in the 21st century.

The history of comics has followed different paths in different cultures. 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, in which the superhero genre became prominent after Superman appeared in 1938. 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 in academia.

The English term comics is used as a singular noun when it refers to the medium and a plural when referring to particular instances, such as individual strips or comic books. Though the term derives from the humorous (or comic) work that predominated in early American newspaper comic strips, it 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 definition difficult.

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The Silver Age of Comic Books was a period of artistic advancement and commercial success in mainstream American comic books, predominantly those in the superhero genre. Following the Golden Age of Comic Books and an interregnum in the early to mid-1950s, the Silver Age is considered to cover the period from 1956 to circa 1970, and was succeeded by the Bronze and Modern Ages. A number of important comics writers and artists contributed to the early part of the era, including writers Stan Lee, Gardner Fox, John Broome, and Robert Kanigher, and artists Curt Swan, Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Steve Ditko, Mike Sekowsky, Carmine Infantino, John Buscema, and John Romita, Sr. By the end of the Silver Age, a new generation of talent had entered the field, including writers Denny O'Neill, Mike Friedrich, Roy Thomas, and Archie Goodwin, and artists such as Neal Adams, Jim Steranko, and Barry Windsor-Smith. The popularity and circulation of comic books about superheroes declined following the Second World War, and comic books about horror, crime and romance took larger shares of the market. However, controversy arose over alleged links between comic books and juvenile delinquency, focusing in particular on crime and horror titles. In 1954, publishers implemented the Comics Code Authority to regulate comic content. In the wake of these changes, publishers began introducing superhero stories again, a change that began with the introduction of a new version of DC Comics's The Flash in Showcase #4 (Oct. 1956). In response to strong demand, DC began publishing more superhero titles including Justice League of America, which prompted Marvel Comics to follow suit beginning with Fantastic Four #1. Silver Age comics have become collectible; as of 2008 the most sought-after comic of the era is Spider-Man's debut in Amazing Fantasy #15.

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Randall Munroe

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Stan Lee in 2007
In the early days, I was writing scripts for virtually all the books, and it was very hard to keep all the artists busy; poor little frail me, doing story after story. So I'd be writing a story for Kirby, and Steve Ditko would walk in and say, 'Hey, I need some work now.' And I'd say, 'I can't give it to you now, Steve, I'm finishing Kirby's.' But we couldn't afford to keep Steve waiting, because time is money, so I'd have to say, 'Look Steve, I can't write a script for you now, but here's the plot for the next Spider-Man. Go home and draw anything you want, as long as it's something like this, and I'll put the copy in later.' So I was able to finish Jack's story. Steve in the meantime was drawing another story.....Okay, it started out as a lazy's man's device...but we realized this was absolutely the best way to do a comic.....Don't have the writer say, 'Panel one will be a long shot of Spider-Man walking down the street.' The artist may see it differently; maybe he feels it should be a shot of Spider-Man swinging on his web, or climbing upside-down on the ceiling or something.
Stan Lee, 1975

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