The History of Comics

…and what’s to come in 2019! 

Let’s start at the beginning:

1895

The New York World, owned by Joseph Pulitzer, begins publishing a series of comics by Richard Outcault taking place in Hogan’s Alley, and featuring a boy in a yellow nightshirt who becomes known as “The Yellow Kid.” The Yellow Kid becomes very popular in New York City, and, in 1897, William Hearst’sNew York Journal hires Outcault to draw the cartoon for them instead. Pulitzer responds by hiring George Luks to draw his own version of The Yellow Kid. Both strips end in 1898.

As a side note, both the World and the Journal were known for sensationalism, each trying to top the other with more interesting stories, rather than sticking to reporting the facts. This practice has become known as “yellow journalism.”


1897

Rudolph Dirks’s The Katzenjammer Kids appears for the first time in the New York Journal on December 12. It stars a set of twin brothers, Hans and Fritz, andis the first strip to tell a story in a series of panels. It is still running today, as the oldest strip in syndication. The first comic-strip reprint collection, The Yellow Kid in McFadden’s Flats, is published as a 196-page hardcover book.


1905

Little Nemo in Slumberland,
by Winsor McCay, begins running in the New York Herald.The first comic with a continuing story, it is still noted as one of the most richly illustrated comic strips of all time.


1907

Mutt and Jeff become the first successful daily comic strip. Originally known as A. Mutt, Jeff joins the cast the following year. In addition to being a newspaper strip, it gets made into a series of animated films starting in 1913. The strip continues to be published through 1982.


1913

Krazy Kat, which originated as filler drawings at the bottom of The Dingbat Family, is spun off into its own strip by writer and artist George Herriman. Starring Ignatz Mouse, Krazy Kat, and Offissa Pup,the strip is never very popular, but has a small and devoted following. Fortunately, this following includes William Randolph Hearst, who owns King Features Syndicate, which
carries the strip until Herriman’s death in 1944.


1914

The first of Rube Goldberg’s
ridiculously complicated contraptions, the “Automatic Weight Reducing Machine,” is published in the New York Evening Mail.


1919

Frank King’s Gasoline Alleybegins. It is the first strip ever to have characters who age in real time. Characters go to war, marry, have children, and so on. The strip is still running today.


1920

Winnie Winkle debuts, chronicling the trials of a woman working to support her family. While not the first comic to feature a working woman, it is the first to gain widespread attention. It lasts until 1996.


1924

Harold Gray begins Little Orphan Annie, a tale of rags to riches… to rags, to riches, and back again, as the indomitable orphan and millionaire Daddy Warbucks find each other and part over and over. Annie also finds success as a radio show, a Broadway musical, and a movie.


1930

Chic Young begins Blondie. She marries Dagwood in 1933. In an unprecedented set of crossovers in 2005, dozens of comic strips join in celebrating its 75 years in print.


1933

Funnies on Parade, a collection of reprinted newspaper comic strips, is given away as an advertising promotion. It is the first to be printed in what becomes the standard size for modern comic books: 5.5″ x 8″. It’s followed by Famous Funnies, a similar collection sold for ten cents.


1934

Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates begins. The popular strip features the adventures of Terry Lee in the Far East.


1937

The first issue of Detective Comics is released by the company that will eventually be named DC Comics. (DC is an abbreviation for “Detective Comics.”)


1938

Action Comics makes its first appearance, and features the first superhero ever: Superman. He can run faster than a train, leap over tall buildings, and block bullets with his chest, but isn’t yet able to fly. The character is a hit, and many more superhero comics follow.


1939

“The Bat-Man” makes his first appearance in Detective Comics. Unlike Superman,  Batman has no powers; he fights crime using martial arts, technology, and his mind. Timely Comics releases Marvel Comics, including Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner and several other heroes. Timely will eventually be renamed Marvel.
DC introduces The Flash, a
superhero who can run faster than the speed of light.


1940

DC presents Alan Scott, who makes a ring that allows him to use the light of the Green Lantern.
Brenda Starr debuts. The star of the strip is a redheaded reporter who often visits exotic places. It’s notable for being created by a woman, Dale Messick. The strip continues to be female-created, now being written by Mary Schmich and drawn by June Brigman.


1941

In what will become the Marvel universe, Steve Rogers is given super-soldier serum and a mighty shield, becoming Captain America.
DC introduces Wonder Woman, designed by psychiatrist William Marston to embody female ideals of heroism.
Redheaded teenager Archie Andrews makes his first appearance in Pep Comics. In 1945, the publisher will change its name from MLJ Comics to Archie Comics.


1941

Donald Duck’s Uncle Scrooge makes his first comic book
appearance.


1948

Walt Kelly starts the daily Pogo comic strip. The Pogo
Possum character had been
introduced in the first issue of the Animal Comics comic book in 1941, but gained fame for his topical political humor in the newspaper strips.


1949

Casper, the Friendly Ghost,gets his own comic book. He was introduced in a cartoon in 1945.


1
9
5
0
Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts, 
the most profitable comic
strip of all time, begins its 50-year run. He’d wanted to
name it Li’l Folks, but the
United Feature syndicate
changed its name over
Schulz’s objections. Spinoffs of the comic, which features Charlie Brown and Snoopy, will include many animated TV specials and a Broadway musical, not to mention
every imaginable
merchandising tie-in. The
strip ends the day Schulz
dies, but newspapers
continue to reprint the older installments.


1
9
5
4
In response to public and
Congressional objections to
comic books featuring tales
of crime and horror, the
Comics Code Authority is
created.


1
9
5
9
DC Comics introduces 
Supergirl, cousin of
Superman.


1
9
6
1
Marvel presents Stan Lee’s 
The Fantastic Four, a
superhero group consisting
of Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Girl, The Thing, and The
Human Torch. Unusually, the team members didn’t hide
their real identities (Reed
Richards, Susan Storm, Ben
Grimm, and Johnny Storm).
Reed and Susan would
marry in 1965.


1
9
6
2
Marvel adds another two
superheroes: Spider-Man 
and The Hulk. Bitten by a
radioactive spider, Peter
Parker gains the
proportionate strength of a
spider, and designs his own
webshooters. He soon learns that with great power comes great responsibility. Dr.
Banner, belted by gamma
rays, turns into the Hulk, a
giant green monster with
matching purple pants.
Archie Comics debuts 
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch in the back of Archie’s
Madhouse. She’ll get her own title in 1971, eventually
starring in several cartoon
shows and a live-action TV
series.


1
9
6
3
Josie McCoy is introduced by Archie Comics in She’s Josie. In 1969, she’ll become the
head of a rock band, in 
Josie and the Pussycats.
Marvel Comics starts its first series of mutants, the X-Men, led by Professor X. The other founding members are
Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, and Iceman.


1
9
6
4
Daredevil, the Man Without
Fear, appears in his own
Marvel Comics title. This
superhero was blinded by
radioactive waste, which
heightened his other senses.
In the DC universe, the Teen Titans makes its first
appearance, consisting of
Aqualad, Kid Flash, Robin,
and Wonder Girl.


1
9
6
8
Ziggy is created by Tom
Wilson, an executive at the
American Greetings card
company. He’ll get his own
daily newspaper panel in
1971.


1
9
7
0
Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury begins appearing in daily
newspapers, the first strip to be carried by Universal
Press Syndicate. The strip
combines the ongoing stories of various characters aging
in real time with political
satire, and would become the first comic strip to be
awarded the Pulitzer Prize
for Editorial Cartooning, in
1975.

Drawing by Kerry D. Soper


1
9
7
4
SNXXT! Wolverine makes his first appearance, as a
Canadian superhero
fought by the Hulk. He’ll
later join the X-Men and get
his own monthly title.


1
9
7
6
Cathy Guisewite
introduces Cathy, a comic strip loosely based on
her own life. The Every
woman main character
struggles with “the four
basic guilt groups: Food, Love, Mother, and
Career.”

1
9
7
9
The For Better or For Worse comic strip debuts, telling
the story of the Patterson
family. The characters age in real time, and the strip
becomes known for its
realistic portrayal of life
events. Lynn Johnston’s 
creation will eventually be
nominated for a Pulitzer, a rare distinction for any comic
strip, but especially for a non-political one.


1
9
80
The Far Side, a strange
but popular daily panel,makes its first
appearance in the San
Francisco Chronicle on
New Year’s Day.
Bloom County begins in
December. While
modeled on Doonesbury 
to some extent, the strip has a wackier tone and
includes talking animals. Its two most famous
characters are Opus the
penguin and Bill the Cat. The strip wins a Pulitzer in 1987.


1
9
8
4
A consistently cheerful
comic about everyday life,
Pat Brady’s Rose Is Rose 
begins its run in syndication.It often shifts to fanciful—
sometimes surreal—points of view.


1
9
85
Calvin and Hobbes, the
adventures of an
imaginative boy and his
stuffed tiger, begins its
daily newspaper run.
Author Bill Watterson 
becomes known for his
refusal to merchandise
the wildly popular
characters in any way,
and for insisting —in
later years—that the
Sunday strips be run in
his preferred format or
not at all. While the strip ends in 1996, it is still
rerun in many papers.


1
9
8
6
The very first version of 
Maus, Art Spiegelman’s story based on his father’s
Holocaust experiences,
appeared on three pages of 
Funny Aminals in 1972. It got underway in earnest in
1980, when a 10-page installment appeared in Raw 
magazine. In 1986, the
revised first six installments are published as a graphic
novel: Maus: A Survivor’s
Tale. A second volume is
published in 1991 as Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began. The combined work wins a
special Pulitzer Prize. In
addition to being a powerful story, Maus helps graphic
novels begin to gain
respectability among
mainstream readers and
critics.


1
9
87
Greg Evans’ Luann 
appears on the comic
pages, chronicling the life of teenager Luann
DeGroot. While a
lighthearted strip in
general, it’s addressed
heavy topics such as
drugs, drunk driving
and cancer. It’s also the
first strip ever to feature a character getting her
first period.


1
9
8
8
FoxTrot, Bill Amend’s comic strip about the Fox family,
begins.


1
9
89
Neil Gaiman begins The Sandman, published by DC Comics. Along with 
Swamp Thing, it is used to launch the Vertigo line
of comics aimed at
adults. The popular and
complex series runs for
75 issues, with the
occasional followup miniseries or graphic novel.


1
9
9
0
Baby Blues debuts with the
birth of Zoe MacPherson to
parents Wanda and Darryl.
The comic strip, about the
ups and downs of child-
rearing, is written by Rick
Kirkman and Jerry Scott.
Characters in the strip age
one year for every two or
three that pass in real life.


1
9
9
5
Stone Soup begins to be
served. Jan Eliot’s strip is one of the few to be
centered around a single mother, Val Stone. A
widow and full-time
worker, Val has two
children, Holly and Alix (aged 13 and 9). At the
start of the strip, she lives with her mother, and
her sister, a divorcé with a toddler, Max. While
the characters don’t age,
Joan eventually marries
their next door neighbor, Wally, who’s taken in his teenaged nephew, Andy.


1
9
9
7
Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman begin Zits, a strip about the
family and friends of 15-year-old Jeremy Duncan. It makes frequent use of surreal
imagery reflecting and
exaggerating characters’
points of view.


1
9
9
9
The Boondocks, by Aaron McGruder, begins
syndication in more than 150 newspapers. The
strip stars African
American children in a
mostly white area. Its
bitingly satirical
commentary on racial
and political issues has
earned it both praise and protests.


2
0
0
1
Pearls Before Swine, which
has been published on the
Web since 1999, begins
appearing in newspapers on December 31. The strip,
written by Stephan Pastis,
features Pig, Rat, Zebra, Goat, and The Fraternity of
Crocodiles. The characters
are aware that they’re in a
comic strip, one which often parodies other strips and the medium itself. The simplistic art style plays off a
quickwitted and quirky
comic sensibility.


2
0
0
2
The first American
edition of Shonen Jump, dated January 2003, is
released the preceding
December. This 288-page digest of Japanese comic books, or manga, include installments of Yu-Gi-Oh! and One Piece. The first
issue sells almost 300,000 copies, a definite
success. The magazine is a spinoff of Japan’s
Weekly Shonen Jump,
which has been running since 1968. Pages in the American edition are
read “backward,” from
right to left, so that the
artwork appears as it did in the original Japanese version.


Other 2005-2006 Comic films released: Constantine and Batman Begins

2
0
0
5
The Fantastic Four is a
fictional superhero team
appearing in American comic books published by Marvel
Comics. The group debuted
in The Fantastic Four #1
(cover dated Nov. 1961). The Fantastic Four was the first
superhero team created by
editor/co-plotter Stan Lee.
This was the second live-
action Fantastic Four film to be filmed. A previous
attempt, titled The Fantastic Four, was a B-movie produced by Roger Corman that
ultimately went unreleased. 

2
0
0
7
Captain America is shot and killed by his
nemesis, Red Skull.

2007 comic films
released: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Animated 2007 comic
films released: Captain
Amazing Lad, Superman: Doomsday, The
Invincible Iron Man,
Hellboy: Blood and Iron
and Doctor Strange


Other 2008 comic films released: The Incredible Hulk and Hellboy II

Animated: Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow

2
0
0
8
Howard Zinn — political
scientist, historian, and social critic — releases a graphic
novel titled A People’s History of American Empire. It is
based on Zinn’s classic book A People’s History of the
United States. The graphic
novel was illustrated by Mike Konopacki.
Iron Man, starring Robert
Downey, Jr., and based on the Marvel comic of the same
name, is released in theaters to much critical acclaim.
The Dark Knight, the sequel
to Batman Begins, breaks box-office records during its
opening weekend with
$155.41 million.


2
0
0
9
Watchmen, the film
adaptation of the
acclaimed comic book by Alan Moore and Dave
Gibbons, is released in
theaters. The movie was deemed “unfilmable”
after a handful of
directors failed to
produce the movie in the 1990s. Aside from a few minor alterations, the
film remains faithful to
the plot of the comic
book. The film was directed by Zack Snyder, who
gained wide recognition after the release of his
film adaptation of 300 in 2007.
The Walt Disney
Company agrees to buy Marvel Entertainment
Inc. (Marvel Comics) for $4 billion dollars.

Other 2009 comic films released: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Animated: Wonder Woman and Hulk Vs.


2
0
1
0
Digital comics enter the
mainstream, with online
readership and apps for
comics on the go. According
to comicsalliance.com,
graphic novel sales fell 20%
in 2010, while digital comics sales logged an impressive
1000% increase.
Other 2010 Comic films released: Iron Man 2
Animated: Batman: Under the Red Rood, Planet Hulk and Superman/Shazam!


2
0
1
1
Thor, a film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, is
released in May. It ends
up eighth on the list of
the top ten highest
grossing movies of the
year with a box office
total of more than $181 million. Captain
America: The First
Avenger comes in at
number ten on the list,
making $176 million.

Other 2011 Comic films released: X-Men: First Class, The Green Hornet and Sci-Fi Movie: The Death and Return of Superman


2
0
1
2
Movies based on comics
continue to dominate the box office. Marvel’s The Avengers is the top movie of 2012,
with a domestic gross of
more than $623 million. The Dark Knight Rises comes in
second and The Amazing
Spider-Man is seventh on the top ten year end list.
Other 2012-2013 Comic films released: The The Amazing
Spider-Man, Dredd, The
Wolverine, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, G.I. Joe:
Retaliation, R.I.P.D.
Animated: Batman: The
Dark Knight Returns, Part 2
and Justice League: The
Flashpoint Paradox


2
0
1
4
The Guardians of the
Galaxy is the top box
office movie of the year, with a domestic gross of more than $333 million. Captain America: The
Winter Soldier comes in
third and X-Men: Days of Future Past is eighth.
More comics are adapted for television as well. TV shows such as Marvel’s
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Gotham, and Constantine are all based on comics. Due to the popularity of
the Captain America 
films and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a TV series based on Marvel’s Agent Carter is announced.

Other 2014 Comic Films Released: X-Men: Days of Future Past, Hercules, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Animated: Son of Batman


Other comic films released in 2015: Avengers: Age of
Ultron and Fantastic Four
Animated 2015 Movies:
Justice League: Throne of
Atlantis and Gods and
Monsters, Batman vs. Robin

2
0
1
5
Secret Warscomic book 
storyline is published by
Marvel Comics. It recalls the original, similarly-named
1984–1985 miniseries.
Released on May 6, 2015, the storyline includes a core 
Secret Wars mini-series,
which picks up from where
the “Time Runs Out”
storyline running in Avengers and New
Avengers ends.


2
0
1
6
Suicide Squad, a 2016
American superhero film based on the DC Comics supervillain team of the same name, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures,is the third installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). In Suicide
Squad, a secret
government agency
recruits imprisoned 
supervillains to execute
dangerous black ops 
missions and save the
world from a powerful
threat, in exchange for
reduced sentences.

2016 Animated released movies: Batman: The Killing Joke


Other 2017 Comic Film Releases:
Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Transformers: The Last
Knight, Logan and The Lego Batman Movie

2
0
1
7
Spider-Man: Homecoming 
is a 2017 American 
superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character 
Spider-Man. It is the second 
Spider-Man film reboot and 
the sixteenth film in the 
Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It made $880 million in the Box office.


2
0
1
8
Aquaman is a 2018
American superhero film based on the DC Comics character. It is the sixth
installment in the DC
Extended Universe 
(DCEU). Development of an Aquaman film began in 2004, with several
plans falling through over the years. In August
2014, two competing
scripts were written and the film was officially
announced in October
2014. The film has grossed over $1 billion
worldwide, becoming the first DCEU film to do so.
It received praise for its
tone, Odirection, and
cinematography, but
criticism for the plot,
dialogue, and runtime.

Other 2018 comic films released: Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Venom, Ant-Man and the Wasp

Animated: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Death of Superman, Batman Ninja, Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay and Batman: Gotham by Gaslight


2019 Plans

There’s so much to look forward to in 2019. Take a look at what’s to come!

January 18

March 8

April 5

April 12

May 3

June 7

July 5

August 2

October 4

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