Tonight was another fun and informative My Favorite Comics session at ChiPRC. We’ve been meeting every third Wednesday of the month since January (after a preliminary session way back in November ’12) to geek out about all aspects of graphic storytelling.
Two Dreamers — which is your favorite pose?
Tonight’s topic was newspaper comics. This photo shows some of the material that was available for “show and tell.” We talked about the history of newspaper comics, all the way from The Yellow Kid to the yellow-haired kid with the talking tiger. It’s really fascinating to see how the formal elements we take for granted — like word balloons and sequential panels, evolved slowly over time. The first real comic was a single-panel with no word balloons! Those innovations were introduced two years later by Rudolph Dirks.
It’s also interesting that certain tropes we associate with long-form superhero comics originated in newspaper strips. For example, Roy Crane’s character, Captain Easy, would be a model for Superman and therefore all the superheroes to follow. The character made his first appearance in 1929, the same year that Buck Rogers and Hal Foster’s Tarzan debuted. All of these strips were influenced by action/adventure movie serials of the time, an influence that would survive all the way to present-day superhero comics. Most of us automatically think of action-oriented plots when someone says “comics.” But prior to 1929, no one would have associated comics with action/adventure!
Here he is, the very first comic strip character….
Yellow Kid’s feet look a lot like my logo!