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COMICS, COMIX, & THE GRAPHIC NOVEL. by Don L. F. Nilsen and Alleen Pace Nilsen. The first comic book appeared in 1933. Little Lulu appeared in the 1930s. The cost of each comic book was a dime (10 cents). You can tell the age of a comic book by looking at the price.

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comics comix the graphic novel


by Don L. F. Nilsen and

Alleen Pace Nilsen

the first comic book appeared in 1933 little lulu appeared in the 1930s
The first comic book appeared in 1933.Little Lulu appeared in the 1930s.
  • The cost of each comic book was a dime (10 cents).
  • You can tell the age of a comic book by looking at the price.
  • However, now the early comic books are rare and cost a lot of money.
  • There is a huge discrepancy between the price on the cover and the actual price of the comic book.
larry barron s explanation of slide 4
Larry Barron’s Explanation of Slide 4:

The original Captain Marvel (the character on the right) was published by Fawcett Comics and outsold Superman in the 1940s.

In retaliation, DC Comics sued Fawcett Comics out of business in the 1950s.

As a result, the name “Captain Marvel” was up for grabs and Marvel Comics purchased the rights to the name, resulting in the character on the left.

Ironically, DC Comics in the 1970s purchased the original Captain Marvel character, but could not put his name on a front cover.

So, the comic was called Shazam (after the wizard who granted Captain Marvel his powers).

Today, Marvel’s Captain Marvel is now a woman, and DC Comics’ Captain Marvel is the character who was Captain Marvel, Jr. in the 1940s.

today s comics
Today’s Comics
  • “There are dozens of humorous comic strips ranging from simple domestic humor such as ‘The Family Circus’ to the sophisticated social and political satire of Gary Trudeau’s ‘Doonesbury’ and Aaron McGruder’s ‘The Boondocks.’ Strips like ‘Cathy’ take on the problems of single professional women, ‘Tank McNamara’ goes after big time sports in America, and strips like ‘BC,’ ‘The Wizard of Id,’ ‘Broom Hilda,’ ‘Zippy’ and many more offer a combination of simple amusement and allegorical meaning.”

(Mintz in Raskin [2008] 290)

underground comix
  • The term “comix” is a co-mix of image and words.
  • Underground comix deals with the underbelly of society as they make fun of drugs, sex, violence, racism, elitism, blasphemy, risque music, bodily functions, and crude language.
Robert Crumb is known as “the Father of Underground Comix.
  • The shrunken head and enlarged feet of Crumb’s “Keep on Truckin’” series came from his L.S.D.-distorted view of people and symbols.
Gilbert Shelton is another drug-inspired underground comix writer of the 1960s.
  • Shelton’s “Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers” featured three dope-and-sex-hunting heroes.
  • This was a well-received parody of the 1960s hippie drug culture, and was designed not to preach, but to entertain.
  • Shelton also created “Wonder Wart-Hog” as a parody of superhero comics.
aboveground comics
  • At the opposite end of the spectrum from underground comix are the coffee table comic books:
    • Joe Anderson’s Bugs Bunny: Fifty Years and Only One Grey Hare
    • Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County Babylon: Five Years of Basic Naughtiness
    • Walt Kelly’s Pluperfect Pogo
    • Bill Watterson’s The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book
middleground comics
  • Between the underground comix, and the coffee table comics, there are some mainstream collections:
    • Scott Adams’s The Dilbert Principle
    • Charles Schulz’s Happiness Is a Warm Puppy, Home Is on Top of a Dog House, I Need All the Friends I Can Get, and Security is a Thumb and a Blanket
john callahan s disability cartoons
  • John Callahan was paralized in an automobile accident shortly after his 21st birthday. His cartoons about disabilities are quite controversial.
  • One of his cartoons shows a dark-skinned street beggar carrying a sign that reads, “Please help me. I am blilnd and black, but not musical.”
In another Callahan cartoon there is a man in a bar with two prosthetic hooks in place of hands.
  • The bartender is saying, “Sorry Sam, you can’t hold your liquor.”
  • Another Callahan cartoon is entitled “The Alzheimer Hoedown.” It shows confused couples at a square dance trying to follow the instructions, “Return to the girl that you just left.”
  • Callahan got an angry letter from the St. Louis chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.”
hall of fame

Members of the International Museum of Cartoon Art’s Hall of Fame include:

  • Dik Browne: Hi and Lois, & Hagar the Horrible
  • Milton Caniff: Terry and the Pirates, & Steven Canyon
  • Al Capp: L’il Abner
  • Roy Crane: Wash Tubbs, Captain Easy, & Buzz Sawyer
  • Billy DeBeck: Barney Google
  • Rudolph Dirks: The Katzenjammer Kids & The Captain and the Kids
  • Budd Fisher: Mutt and Jeff
  • Harold Foster: Tarzan & Prince Valiant
  • Chester Gould: Dick Tracy
  • Harold Gray: Little Orphan Annie
George Herriman: Krazy Kat
  • Walt Kelly: Pogo
  • Winsor McCay: Little Nemo in Slumberland
  • George McManus: Bringing up Father (Maggie and Jiggs)
  • Richard Oucault: The Yellow Kid & Buster Brown
  • Alex Raymond: Flash Gordon, Jungle Jim, Secret Agent X-9 & Rip Kirby
  • Charles Schulz: Peanuts
  • Elzie Segar: Thimble Theater & Popeye
  • Jimmie Swinnerton: Little Bears, Mr. Jack, & Canyon Kiddies
  • Mort Walker: Beetle Bailey, Hi and Lois, Boner’s Ark
  • Chic Young: Blondie and Dagwood

Walt Kelly’s “Simple J. Malarkey” alluded to Senator McCarthy.When newspapers said they would no longer show Malarkey’s head, Kelly placed a brown paper bag over his head.

johnny hart cartoon
  • When the following Johnny Hart strip was run in The Arab News, both the feature editor and the editor-in-chief were sentenced to lashing and prison terms for failing to recognize the blasphemy.
  • Their sentences were reduced after the incident caused an international furor.
arizona s governor evan meacham
Arizona’s Governor Evan Meacham
  • In Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury there is a Mecham-like character who reacts to claims that he is insensitive:
  • “Lies! Lies spread by queers and pickanninies.”
the graphic novel
  • People are also starting to respect the power of the graphic novel.
  • In 1986, Art Spiegelman won the Pulitzer Prize for his Maus.
art spiegelman