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An Introduction to Comics

Comics and manga have inspired a lot of films, television series, books and video games since William Hogarth’s “Modern Moral Subjects” in the 1600s came out. They probably make up more than half of the adaptations released every year, including anime. Most anime are adapted from the modern manga, the Japanese version of comics, which began in 1945.

The Early Days

Telling a story using pictures isn’t new. Our ancestors used it and even employed pictographic writing systems. A comics tells a story using images divided into panels of chronological order. What separates comics from an all-text novel is not just the illustrations but the speech bubbles. It started as a scroll to identify the characters, then later the artists used balloons for dialogues. A trend using a running dialogue below the panels was also used. In the 19th century, comics has taken the form which we recognize today. The first comic strip is “The Glasgow Looking Glass” in 1826.

Serialized Series

The first comics all pertained to politics and society. It was not until the Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday became popular among the British that a character became the focus of the story. In the US, it was popularized by R.F. Outcault’s Hogan’s Alley. In the 1920s, comic anthologies for children became popular. In 1938, the comic book Action Comics #1 began featuring Superman on the cover. That was the start of the superhero trend.

The Manga Industry

After the wars, Osamu Tezuka developed manga into an established art form by publishing volumes consisting of a hundred pages or more. His most notable work was Mighty Atom or Astro Boy. Another mangaka, Machiko Hasegawa also contributed to the medium’s popularity with her Sazae-san. Manga explores not just action and juvenile humor, but covered a range of topics from fantasy to adult themes. Today, the manga industry can compete head-on with novels. It’s also a favorite source of materials adapted into animated and live action films and television series.

Different Genres

You can find every type of comic for any reader. Manga’s genres are more defined however and do not just feature action heroes. Shoujo for example is a comic strip for females which usually have a romantic, lighthearted theme. You’ll find almost everything in manga, that is why next time someone says comics are only for kids, you know they’re wrong.

Asian Comics

Other countries have their own forms of comics and graphic novels too. India has its own graphic stories since the 7th century, but it wasn’t until the 1950s when the graphic novels first came out. Hong Kong comics include themes such as comedy, supernatural, gangster and crime, kung fu and gambling. In the Philippines, long serialized hero and love stories used to be popular. Sri Lankans like romantic themes while Malaysians enjoy adventures and warrior stories. The comic industry in China and Taiwan like adaptation of classic works. South Korea on the other hand has manhwa in the form of comic strips and webtoons.

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