I’ve been looking at the comic pages since before I could read. In fact, I might have learned to read in the comics section. Especially on Sundays! And to think comics were started in newspapers by that little “Yellow Kid” above at the top left over a hundred years ago. Details below. Enjoy!!
Let me see … there’s Charlie, Calvin, Abner, Blondie, Spidey, Marmaduke, Dennis, Lois, Robin, Betty, Brenda, Bugs, Cathy, Flash, Garfield, Hagar, Heathcliff, Mickey, Moon … no, not the night shift here at KHT working on your wonderful PIA (Pain in the %#$) Jobs! – but a shortlist of some of my favorite comic strip heroes. Today, Oct 2 marks the anniversary of the first American newspaper comic strip back in the 1890s, when newspapers began to add paneled drawings of created characters in various situations connected to everyday life. (likely some of my younger blog readers are asking – “what’s a newspaper”- yikes – if I had hair, it would be gray!) I’ll admit, as a kid, and still, as an adult, I enjoy reading my favorites and seeing the characters deal with life’s situations. Who doesn’t love the Family Circus, Marmaduke or Dilbert? The short, simple creativity and wit makes me smile, and very often, laugh out loud. My top three are Hagar for all of the husbands out there, Dilbert, for a look at life’s silliness, and of course Garfield, just because that cat has attitude! Special thanks to Wikipedia and Google for the history info and YouTube for the videos. Enjoy!
- A comic strip is a sequence of drawings arranged in interrelated panels to display brief humor or form a narrative, often serialized, with text in balloons and captions. Traditionally, throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, these have been published in newspapers and magazines, with horizontal strips printed in black-and-white in daily newspapers, while Sunday newspapers offered longer sequences in special color comics sections.
- Storytelling using a sequence of pictures has existed through history. One medieval European example in textile form is the Bayeux Tapestry. Printed examples emerged in 19th-century Germany and in 18th-century England, where some of the first satirical or humorous sequential narrative drawings were produced. Today, quite the collectable!
- The Biblia pauperum (“Paupers’ Bible”), a tradition of picture Bibles beginning in the later Middle Ages, sometimes depicted Biblical events with words spoken by the figures in the miniatures written on scrolls coming out of their mouths—which makes them to some extent ancestors of the modern cartoon strips. In China, with its traditions of block printing and of the incorporation of text with image, experiments with what became lianhuanhua date back to 1884.
- In the United States, the great popularity of comics sprang from the newspaper war (1887 onwards) between Pulitzer and Hearst. The Little Bears (1893–96) was the first American comic strip with recurring characters, while the first color comic supplement was published by the Chicago Inter-Ocean sometime in the latter half of 1892, followed by the New York Journal’s first color Sunday comic pages in 1897. On January 31, 1912, Hearst introduced the nation’s first full daily comic page in his New York Evening Journal.
- Starting in the late 1920s, comic strips expanded from their mirthful origins to feature adventure stories, as seen in Popeye, Captain Easy, Buck Rogers, Tarzan, and The Adventures of Tintin. Soap-opera continuity strips such as Judge Parker and Mary Worth gained popularity in the 1940s. There are more than 200 different comic strips and daily cartoon panels in American newspapers alone each day for most of the 20th century, for a total of at least 7,300,000 episodes.
- In 1931, George Gallup’s first poll had the comic section as the most important part of the newspaper, with additional surveys pointing out that the comic strips were the second most popular feature after the picture page. During the 1930s, many comic sections had between 12 and 16 pages, although in some cases, these had up to 24 pages.
- Proof sheets were the means by which syndicates provided newspapers with black-and-white line art for the reproduction of strips (which they arranged to have colored in the case of Sunday strips). Michigan State University Comic Art Collection librarian Randy Scott describes these as “large sheets of paper on which newspaper comics have traditionally been distributed to subscribing newspapers. Typically, each sheet will have either six daily strips of a given title or one Sunday strip. (Thus, a week of Beetle Bailey would arrive at the Lansing State Journal in two sheets, printed much larger than the final version and ready to be cut apart and fitted into the local comics page.)
- Starting in the late 1940s, the national syndicates which distributed newspaper comic strips subjected them to very strict censorship. Li’l Abner was censored in September 1947 and was pulled from the Pittsburgh Press by Scripps-Howard. The controversy, as reported in Time, centered on Capp’s portrayal of the U.S. Senate. Said Edward Leech of Scripps, “We don’t think it is good editing or sound citizenship to picture the Senate as an assemblage of freaks and crooks… boobs and undesirables.”
- The comics have long held a distorted mirror to contemporary society, and almost from the beginning have been used for political or social commentary. This ranged from the conservative slant of Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie to the unabashed liberalism of Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury. Al Capp’s Li’l Abner espoused liberal opinions for most of its run, but by the late 1960s, it became a mouthpiece for Capp’s repudiation of the counterculture.
- Pogo used animals to particularly devastating effect, caricaturing many prominent politicians of the day as animal denizens of Pogo’s Okeefenokee Swamp. In a fearless move, Pogo’s creator Walt Kelly took on Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, caricaturing him as a bobcat named Simple J. Malarkey, a megalomaniac who was bent on taking over the characters’ birdwatching club and rooting out all undesirables.
- During the early 20th century, comic strips were widely associated with publisher William Randolph Hearst, whose papers had the largest circulation of strips in the United States. Hearst was notorious for his practice of yellow journalism, and he was frowned on by readers of The New York Times and other newspapers which featured few or no comic strips. Hearst’s critics often assumed that all the strips in his papers were fronts for his own political and social views.
- The world’s longest comic strip is 292 ft long and on display at Trafalgar Square as part of the London Comedy Festival. The London Cartoon Strip was created by 15 of Britain’s best-known cartoonists and depicts the history of London.
- The Reuben, named for cartoonist Rube Goldberg, is the most prestigious award for U.S. comic strip artists. Reuben awards are presented annually by the National Cartoonists Society.
- Many older strips are no longer drawn by the original cartoonist, who has either died or retired. Such strips are known as “zombie strips”. A cartoonist, paid by the syndicate or sometimes a relative of the original cartoonist, continues writing the strip, a tradition that became commonplace in the early half of the 20th century. Hägar the Horrible and Frank and Ernest are both drawn by the sons of the creators. Some strips which are still in affiliation with the original creator are produced by small teams or entire companies, such as Jim Davis’ Garfield.
- Historically, syndicates owned the creators’ work, enabling them to continue publishing the strip after the original creator retired, left the strip, or died. This practice led to the term “legacy strips,” or more pejoratively “zombie strips”). Most syndicates signed creators to 10 or even 20-year contracts.
To get a complete list of comic strips, you can click HERE (you’ll be surprised how many there are and how many you’ve not seen or heard of).
DO YOU LIKE CONTESTS?
As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I. Love. My. Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good. :-))))