A comic book or comicbook, also called comic magazine or simply comic, is a publication that consists of comic art in the form of sequential juxtaposed panels that represent individual scenes. Panels are often accompanied by brief descriptive prose and written narrative, usually dialog contained in word balloons emblematic of the comics art form. Although comics has some origins in 18th century Japan, comic books were first popularized in the United States and the United Kingdom during the 1930s. The first modern comic book, Famous Funnies, was released in the U.S. in 1933 and was a reprinting of earlier newspaper humor comic strips, which had established many of the story-telling devices used in comics. The term comic book derives from American comic books once being a compilation of comic strips of a humorous tone; however, this practice was replaced by featuring stories of all genres, usually not humorous in tone.
The largest comic book market is Japan. By 1995, the manga market in Japan was valued at ¥586.4 billion ($6–7 billion), with annual sales of 1.9 billion manga books/magazines in Japan (equivalent to 15 issues per person). The comic book market in the United States and Canada was valued at $1.09 billion in 2016. As of 2017, the largest comic book publisher in the United States is manga distributor Viz Media, followed by DC Comics and Marvel Comics. Another major comic book market is France, where Franco-Belgian comics and Japanese manga each represent 40% of the market, followed by American comics at 10% market share.
Comic books are reliant on their organization and appearance. Authors largely focus on the frame of the page, size, orientation, and panel positions. These characteristic aspects of comic books are necessary in conveying the content and messages of the author. The key elements of comic books include panels, balloons (speech bubbles), text (lines), and characters. Balloons are usually convex spatial containers of information that are related to a character using a tail element. The tail has an origin, path, tip, and pointed direction. Key tasks in the creation of comic books are writing, drawing, and coloring.
Comics as a print medium have existed in America since the printing of The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck in 1842 in hardcover, making it the first known American prototype comic book. Proto-comics periodicals began appearing early in the 20th century, with historians generally citing Dell Publishing's 36-page Famous Funnies: A Carnival of Comics as the first true American comic book; Goulart, for example, calls it "the cornerstone for one of the most lucrative branches of magazine publishing". The introduction of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's Superman in 1938 turned comic books into a major industry and ushered the Golden Age of Comics. The Golden Age originated the archetype of the superhero. According to historian Michael A. Amundson, appealing comic-book characters helped ease young readers' fear of nuclear war and neutralize anxiety about the questions posed by atomic power.
Historians generally divide the timeline of the American comic book into eras. The Golden Age of Comic Books began in the 1930s; which is generally considered the beginning of the comic book that we know today. The Silver Age of comic books is generally considered to date from the first successful revival of the then-dormant superhero form, with the debut of the Flash in Showcase #4 (Oct. 1956). The Silver Age lasted through the late 1960s or early 1970s, during which time Marvel Comics revolutionized the medium with such naturalistic superheroes as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four and Lee and Steve Ditko's Spider-Man. The demarcation between the Silver Age and the following era, the Bronze Age of Comic Books, is less well-defined, with the Bronze Age running from the very early 1970s through the mid-1980s. The Modern Age of Comic Books runs from the mid-1980s to the present day.
A notable event in the history of the American comic book came with psychiatrist Fredric Wertham's criticisms of the medium in his book Seduction of the Innocent (1954), which prompted the American Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency to investigate comic books. In response to attention from the government and from the media, the U.S. comic book industry set up the Comics Magazine Association of America. The CMAA instilled the Comics Code Authority in 1954 and drafted the self-censorship Comics Code that year, which required all comic books to go through a process of approval. It was not until the 1970s that comic books could be published without passing through the inspection of the CMAA. The Code was made formally defunct in November 2011.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a surge of creativity emerged in what became known as underground comix. Published and distributed independently of the established comics industry, most of such comics reflected the youth counterculture and drug culture of the time. Many had an uninhibited, often irreverent style; their frank depictions of nudity, sex, profanity, and politics had no parallel outside their precursors, the pornographic and even more obscure "Tijuana bibles". Underground comics were almost never sold at newsstands, but rather in such youth-oriented outlets as head shops and record stores, as well as by mail order.
Frank Stack's The Adventures of Jesus, published under the name Foolbert Sturgeon, has been credited as the first underground comic; while R. Crumb and the crew of cartoonists who worked on Zap Comix popularized the form.
The rise of comic book specialty stores in the late 1970s created/paralleled a dedicated market for "independent" or "alternative comics" in the U.S. The first such comics included the anthology series Star Reach, published by comic book writer Mike Friedrich from 1974 to 1979, and Harvey Pekar's American Splendor, which continued sporadic publication into the 21st century and which Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini adapted into a 2003 film. Some independent comics continued in the tradition of underground comics. While their content generally remained less explicit, others resembled the output of mainstream publishers in format and genre, but were published by smaller artist-owned companies or by single artists. A few (notably RAW) represented experimental attempts to bring comics closer to the status of fine art.
During the 1970s the "small press" culture grew and diversified. By the 1980s, several independent publishers - such as Pacific, Eclipse, First, Comico, and Fantagraphics - had started releasing a wide range of styles and formats—from color-superhero, detective, and science-fiction comic books to black-and-white magazine-format stories of Latin American magical realism.
A number of small publishers in the 1990s changed the format and distribution of their comics to more closely resemble non-comics publishing. The "minicomics" form, an extremely informal version of self-publishing, arose in the 1980s and became increasingly popular among artists in the 1990s, despite reaching an even more limited audience than the small press.
In 1964, Richard Kyle coined the term "graphic novel". Precursors of the form existed by the 1920s, which saw a revival of the medieval woodcut tradition by Belgian Frans Masereel, American Lynd Ward and others, including Stan Lee. In 1950, St. John Publications produced the digest-sized, adult-oriented "picture novel" It Rhymes with Lust, a 128-page digest by pseudonymous writer "Drake Waller" (Arnold Drake and Leslie Waller), penciler Matt Baker and inker Ray Osrin, touted as "an original full-length novel" on its cover. In 1971, writer-artist Gil Kane and collaborators devised the paperback "comics novel" Blackmark. Will Eisner popularized the term "graphic novel" when he used it on the cover of the paperback edition of his work A Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories in 1978.
In 2017, the comic book market size for North America was just over $1 billion with digital sales being flat, book stores having a 1 percent decline, and comic book stores having a 10 percent decline over 2016.
The 1970s saw the advent of specialty comic book stores. Initially, comic books were marketed by publishers to children because comic books were perceived as children's entertainment. However, with increasing recognition of comics as an art form and the growing pop culture presence of comic book conventions, they are now embraced by many adults.
Comic book collectors are often lifelong enthusiasts of the comic book stories, and they usually focus on particular heroes and attempt to assemble the entire run of a title. Comics are published with a sequential number. The first issue of a long-running comic book series is commonly the rarest and most desirable to collectors. The first appearance of a specific character, however, might be in a pre-existing title. For example, Spider-Man's first appearance was in Amazing Fantasy #15. New characters were often introduced this way, and did not receive their own titles until there was a proven audience for the hero. As a result, comics that feature the first appearance of an important character will sometimes be even harder to find than the number 1 issue of a character's own title.
Some rare comic books include copies of the unreleased Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1 from 1939. Eight copies, plus one without a cover, emerged in the estate of the deceased publisher in 1974. The "Pay Copy" of this book sold for $43,125 in a 2005 Heritage auction.
The most valuable American comics have combined rarity and quality with the first appearances of popular and enduring characters. Four comic books have sold for over US$1 million as of December 2010, including two examples of Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman, both sold privately through online dealer ComicConnect.com in 2010, and Detective Comics #27, the first appearance of Batman, via public auction.
Misprints, promotional comic-dealer incentive printings, and issues with extremely low distribution also generally have scarcity value. The rarest modern comic books include the original press run of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen #5, which DC executive Paul Levitz recalled and pulped due to the appearance of a vintage Victorian era advertisement for "Marvel Douche", which the publisher considered offensive; only 100 copies exist, most of which have been CGC graded. (See Recalled comics for more pulped, recalled, and erroneous comics.)
In 2000, a company named Comics Guaranty (CGC) began to "slab" comics, encasing them in a thick plastic and giving them a numeric grade. As of 2014, there are two companies that provide third party grading of comic book condition. Because condition is so important to the value of rare comics, the idea of grading by a company that does not buy or sell comics seems like a good one. However, there is some controversy about whether this grading service is worth the high cost, and whether it is a positive development for collectors, or if it primarily services speculators who wish to make a quick profit trading in comics as one might trade in stocks or fine art. Comic grading has created valuation standards that online price guides such as GoCollect and GPAnalysis have used to report on real-time market values.
The original artwork pages from comic books are also collected, and these are perhaps the rarest of all comic book collector's items, as there is only one unique page of artwork for each page that was printed and published. These were created by a writer, who created the story; a pencil artist, who laid out the sequential panels on the page; an ink artist, who went over the pencil with pen and black ink; a letterer, who provided the dialogue and narration of the story by hand lettering each word; and finally a colorist, who added color as the last step before the finished pages went to the printer.
When the original pages of artwork are returned by the printer, they are typically given back to the artists, who sometimes sell them at comic book conventions, or in galleries and art shows related to comic book art. The original pages of the first appearances of such legendary characters as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Spider-man are considered priceless.
Comic book advertisements were a common feature in American comic books from the 1950s to the 1980s. They were typically grouped together on the inside back cover in, displayed in black and white with an illustration of the product. As these advertisements were directed at young people, many made sensational claims, and sold the products for a few dollars to be sent to a post office box. Products offered included novelty items and toys.
The first comic books in Japan appeared during the 18th century in the form of woodblock-printed booklets containing short stories drawn from folk tales, legends, and historical accounts, told in a simple visual-verbal idiom. Known as "red books" (赤本 akahon), "black books" (黒本 kurobon), and "blue books" (青本 aohon), these were written primarily for less literate readers. However, with the publication in 1775 of Koikawa Harumachi's comic book Master Flashgold's Splendiferous Dream (金々先生栄花の夢 Kinkin sensei eiga no yume), an evolved form of comic book originated, which required greater literacy and cultural sophistication. This was known as the kibyōshi (黄表紙, lit. yellow cover). Published in thousands of copies, the kibyōshi may have been the earliest fully realized comic book for adults in world literary history. Approximately 2,000 titles remain extant.
Modern comic books in Japan developed from a mixture of these earlier comic books and of woodblock prints ukiyo-e (浮世絵) with Western styles of drawing. They took their current form shortly after World War II. They are usually published in black-and-white, except for the covers, which are usually printed in four colors, although occasionally, the first few pages may also be printed in full color. The term manga means "random (or whimsical) pictures", and first came into common usage in the late 18th century with the publication of such works as Santō Kyōden's picturebook Shiji no yukikai (四時交加) (1798) and Aikawa Minwa's Comic Sketches of a Hundred Women (1798). During the Meiji period, the term Akahon was also common.
Western artists were brought over to teach their students such concepts as line, form, and color; these were things which had not been regarded as conceptually important in ukiyo-e, as the idea behind the picture was of paramount importance. Manga at this time was referred to as Ponchi-e (Punch-picture) and, like its British counterpart Punch magazine, mainly depicted humor and political satire in short one- or four-picture format.
Dr. Osamu Tezuka (1928–1989) further developed this form. Seeing an animated war propaganda film titled Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors (桃太郎 海の神兵 Momotarō Umi no Shinpei) inspired Tezuka to become a comic artist. He introduced episodic storytelling and character development in comic format, in which each story is part of larger story arc. The only text in Tezuka's comics was the characters' dialogue and this further lent his comics a cinematic quality. Inspired by the work of Walt Disney, Tezuka also adopted a style of drawing facial features in which a character's eyes, nose, and mouth are drawn in an extremely exaggerated manner. This style created immediately recognizable expressions using very few lines, and the simplicity of this style allowed Tezuka to be prolific. Tezuka's work generated new interest in the ukiyo-e tradition, in which the image is a representation of an idea, rather than a depiction of reality.
Though a close equivalent to the American comic book, manga has historically held a more important place in Japanese culture than comics have in American culture. Japanese society shows a wide respect for manga, both as an art form and as a form of popular literature. Many manga become television shows or short films. As with its American counterpart, some manga has been criticized for its sexuality and violence, although in the absence of official or even industry restrictions on content, artists have freely created manga for every age group and for every topic.
Manga magazines—also known as "anthologies"—often run several series concurrently, with approximately 20 to 40 pages allocated to each series per issue. These magazines range from 200 to more than 850 pages each. Manga magazines also contain one-shot comics and a variety of four-panel yonkoma (equivalent to comic strips). Manga series may continue for many years if they are successful, with stories often collected and reprinted in book-sized volumes called tankōbon (単行本, lit. stand-alone book), the equivalent of the American trade paperbacks. These volumes use higher-quality paper and are useful to readers who want to be brought up to date with a series, or to readers who find the cost of the weekly or monthly publications to be prohibitive. Deluxe versions are printed as commemorative or collectible editions.
Dōjinshi (同人誌, fan magazine), fan-made Japanese comics, operate in a far larger market in Japan than the American "underground comics" market; the largest dōjinshi fair, Comiket, attracts 500,000 visitors twice a year.
Korean manhwa have quickly gained popularity outside Korea in recent times as a result of the Korean Wave. The manhwa industry has suffered through two crashes and strict censorship since its early beginnings as a result of the Japanese occupation of the peninsula which stunt the growth of the industry but has now started to flourish thanks in part to the internet and new ways to read manhwa whether on computers or through smartphones. In the past manhwa would be marketed as manga outside the country in order to make sure they would sell well but now that is no longer needed since more people are now more knowledgeable about the industry and Korean culture.
Webtoons have become popular in South Korea as a new way to read comics. Thanks in part to different censorship rules, color and unique visual effects, and optimization for easier reading on smartphones and computers. More manhwaga have made the switch from traditional print manhwa to online webtoons thanks to better pay and more freedom than traditional print manhwa. The webtoon format has also expanded to other countries outside of Korea like China, Japan, Southeast Asia, and Western countries. Major webtoon distributors include Lezhin, Naver, and Kakao.
France and Belgium have a long tradition in comics and comic books, called BDs (an abbreviation of bande dessinées) in French and strips in Dutch. Belgian comic books originally written in Dutch show the influence of the Francophone "Franco-Belgian" comics, but have their own distinct style.
The name bande dessinée derives from the original description of the art form as drawn strips (the phrase literally translates as "the drawn strip"), analogous to the sequence of images in a film strip. As in its English equivalent, the word "bande" can be applied to both film and comics. Significantly, the French-language term contains no indication of subject-matter, unlike the American terms "comics" and "funnies", which imply an art form not to be taken seriously. The distinction of comics as le neuvième art (literally, "the ninth art") is prevalent in French scholarship on the form, as is the concept of comics criticism and scholarship itself. Relative to the respective size of their populations, the innumerable authors in France and Belgium publish a high volume of comic books. In North America, the more serious Franco-Belgian comics are often seen as equivalent to graphic novels, but whether they are long or short, bound or in magazine format, in Europe there is no need for a more sophisticated term, as the art's name does not itself imply something frivolous.
In France, authors control the publication of most comics. The author works within a self-appointed time-frame, and it is common for readers to wait six months or as long as two years between installments. Most books first appear in print as a hardcover book, typically with 48, 56, or 64 pages.
Although Ally Sloper's Half Holiday (1884) was aimed at an adult market, publishers quickly targeted a younger demographic, which has led to most publications being for children and has created an association in the public's mind of comics as somewhat juvenile. The Guardian refers to Ally Sloper as "one of the world's first iconic cartoon characters", and "as famous in Victorian Britain as Dennis the Menace would be a century later." British comics in the early 20th century typically evolved from illustrated penny dreadfuls of the Victorian era (featuring Sweeney Todd, Dick Turpin and Varney the Vampire). First published in the 1830s, penny dreadfuls were "Britain's first taste of mass-produced popular culture for the young."
The two most popular British comic books, The Beano and The Dandy, were first published by DC Thomson in the 1930s. By 1950 the weekly circulation of both reached two million. Explaining the enormous popularity of comics in British popular culture during this period, Anita O'Brien, director curator at London's Cartoon Museum, states: "When comics like the Beano and Dandy were invented back in the 1930s - and through really to the 1950s and 60s - these comics were almost the only entertainment available to children." The "world's naughtiest schoolboy", Dennis the Menace was created in the 1950s, which saw sales for The Beano soar. He features in the cover of The Beano, with the BBC referring to him as the "definitive naughty boy of the comic world."
In 1954, Tiger comics introduced Roy of the Rovers, the hugely popular football based strip recounting the life of Roy Race and the team he played for, Melchester Rovers. The stock media phrase "real 'Roy of the Rovers' stuff" is often used by football writers, commentators and fans when describing displays of great skill, or surprising results that go against the odds, in reference to the dramatic storylines that were the strip's trademark. Other comic books such as Eagle, Valiant, Warrior, Viz and 2000 AD also flourished. Some comics, such as Judge Dredd and other 2000 AD titles, have been published in a tabloid form. Underground comics and "small press" titles have also appeared in the UK, notably Oz and Escape Magazine.
The content of Action, another title aimed at children and launched in the mid-1970s, became the subject of discussion in the House of Commons. Although on a smaller scale than similar investigations in the U.S., such concerns led to a moderation of content published within British comics. Such moderation never became formalized to the extent of promulgating a code, nor did it last long. The UK has also established a healthy market in the reprinting and repackaging of material, notably material originating in the U.S. The lack of reliable supplies of American comic books led to a variety of black-and-white reprints, including Marvel's monster comics of the 1950s, Fawcett's Captain Marvel, and other characters such as Sheena, Mandrake the Magician, and the Phantom. Several reprint companies became involved in repackaging American material for the British market, notably the importer and distributor Thorpe & Porter. Marvel Comics established a UK office in 1972. DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics also opened offices in the 1990s. The repackaging of European material has occurred less frequently, although The Adventures of Tintin and Asterix serials have been successfully translated and repackaged in softcover books.
In the 1980s, a resurgence of British writers and artists gained prominence in mainstream comic books, which was dubbed the "British Invasion" in comic book history. These writers and artists brought with them their own mature themes and philosophy such as anarchy, controversy and politics common in British media. These elements would pave the way for mature and "darker and edgier" comic books and jump start the Modern Age of Comics. Writers included Alan Moore, famous for his V for Vendetta, From Hell, Watchmen, Marvelman, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; Neil Gaiman with The Sandman mythos and Books of Magic; Warren Ellis, creator of Transmetropolitan and Planetary; and others such as Mark Millar, creator of Wanted and Kick-Ass. The comic book series Hellblazer, which is largely set in Britain and starring the magician John Constantine, paved the way for British writers such as Jamie Delano.
At Christmas time, publishers repackage and commission material for comic annuals, printed and bound as hardcover A4-size books; "Rupert" supplies a famous example of the British comic annual. DC Thomson also repackages The Broons and Oor Wullie strips in softcover A4-size books for the holiday season.
On 19 March 2012, the British postal service, the Royal Mail, released a set of stamps depicting British comic-book characters and series. The collection featured The Beano, The Dandy, Eagle, The Topper, Roy of the Rovers, Bunty, Buster, Valiant, Twinkle and 2000 AD.
It has been stated that the 13th century Cantigas de Santa María could be considered as the first Spanish "comic", although comic books (also known in Spain as historietas or tebeos) made their debut around 1857. The magazine TBO was influential in popularizing the medium. After the Spanish Civil War the Franco regime imposed strict censorship in all media: superhero comics were forbidden and as a result, comic heroes were based on historical fiction (in 1944 the medieval hero El Guerrero del Antifaz was created by Manuel Gago and another popular medieval hero, Capitán Trueno, was created in 1956 by Víctor Mora and Miguel Ambrosio Zaragoza). Two publishing houses — Editorial Bruguera and Editorial Valenciana — dominated the Spanish comics market during its golden age (1950-1970). The most popular comics showed a recognizable style of slapstick humor (influenced by Franco-Belgian authors such as Franquin): Escobar's Carpanta and Zipi y Zape, Vázquez's Las hermanas Gilda and Anacleto, Ibáñez's Mortadelo y Filemón and 13. Rue del Percebe or Jan's Superlópez. After the end of the Francoist period, there was an increased interest in adult comics with magazines such as Totem, El Jueves, 1984, and El Víbora, and works such as Paracuellos by Carlos Giménez.
Spanish artists have traditionally worked in other markets finding great success, either in the American (e.g., Eisner Award winners Sergio Aragonés, Salvador Larroca, Gabriel Hernández Walta, Marcos Martín or David Aja), the British (e.g., Carlos Ezquerra, co-creator of Judge Dredd) or the Franco-Belgian one (e.g., Fauve d'Or winner Julio Ribera or Blacksad authors Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido).
In Italy, comics (known in Italian as fumetti) made their debut as humor strips at the end of the 19th century, and later evolved into adventure stories. After World War II, however, artists like Hugo Pratt and Guido Crepax exposed Italian comics to an international audience. Popular comic books such as Diabolik or the Bonelli line—namely Tex Willer or Dylan Dog—remain best-sellers.
Mainstream comics are usually published on a monthly basis, in a black-and-white digest size format, with approximately 100 to 132 pages. Collections of classic material for the most famous characters, usually with more than 200 pages, are also common. Author comics are published in the French BD format, with an example being Pratt's Corto Maltese.
Italian cartoonists show the influence of comics from other countries, including France, Belgium, Spain, and Argentina. Italy is also famous for being one of the foremost producers of Walt Disney comic stories outside the U.S. Donald Duck's superhero alter ego, Paperinik, known in English as Superduck, was created in Italy.
Čtyřlístek (in English translated as Lucky Four or Four-Leaf Clover) is one of the most well-known comics for children published in the Czech Republic.
Distribution has historically been a problem for the comic book industry with many mainstream retailers declining to carry extensive stocks of the most interesting and popular comics. The smartphone and the tablet have turned out to be an ideal medium for online distribution.
On November 13, 2007, Marvel Comics launched Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, a subscription service allowing readers to read many comics from Marvel's history online. The service also includes periodic release new comics not available elsewhere. With the release of Avenging Spider-Man #1, Marvel also became the first publisher to provide free digital copies as part of the print copy of the comic book.
With the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, many major publishers have begun releasing titles in digital form. The most popular platform is comiXology. Some platforms, such as Graphicly, have shut down.
Many libraries have extensive collections of comics in the form of graphic novels. This is a convenient way for many in the public to become familiar with the medium.
The largest comic book ever published was on the 5th of August 2018 in São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. It is named Turma da Mônica — O Maior Gibi do Mundo! by Panini Comics Brasil and Mauricio de Sousa Editora, and it measures at 69.9 cm by 99.8 cm (2 ft 3.51 in by 3 ft 3.29 in).
The Japanese manga author Eiichiro Oda has made comic book history by attaining a Guinness World Record title for having the "Most copies published for the same comic book series by a single author". His widely popular comic titled One Piece was first serialised in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine (Shueisha) in Japan, back in December 1997. In the space of less than two decades, the series has accumulated an incredibly loyal following and has gone on to sell an incredible 320,866,000 units, with a substantial 77 volumes of the comic book released over that period.
The precise era of the Golden Age is disputed, though most agree that it was born with the launch of Superman in 1938.
An American comic book is a thin periodical, typically 32 pages, containing comics content. While the form originated in 1933, American comic books first gained popularity after the 1938 publication of Action Comics, which included the debut of the superhero Superman. This was followed by a superhero boom that lasted until the end of World War II. After the war, while superheroes were marginalized, the comic book industry rapidly expanded, and genres such as horror, crime, science fiction and romance became popular. The 1950s saw a gradual decline, due to a shift away from print media in the wake of television and the impact of the Comics Code Authority. The late 1950s and the 1960s saw a superhero revival, and superheroes remain the dominant character archetype in the 21st century.
Some fans collect comic books, helping drive up their value. Some have sold for more than US $1 million. Comic shops cater to fans, selling comic books, plastic sleeves ("bags") and cardboard backing ("boards") to protect the comic books.
An American comic book is also known as a floppy comic. It is typically thin and stapled, unlike traditional books. American comic books are one of the three major comic book schools globally, along with Japanese manga and the Franco-Belgian comic books.Archie Comics
Archie Comic Publications, Inc. is an American comic book publisher headquartered in Pelham, New York. The company is known for its many titles featuring fictional teenagers including Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Reggie Mantle, Sabrina Spellman, and Josie and the Pussycats.
The company began in 1939 as MLJ Comics, which primarily published superhero comics. The initial Archie characters were created in 1941 by publisher John L. Goldwater and artist Bob Montana, in collaboration with writer Vic Bloom. They first appeared in Pep Comics #22 (cover-dated Dec. 1941). With the creation of Archie, publisher John Goldwater hoped to appeal to fans of the Andy Hardy movies starring Mickey Rooney.Archie Comics was also the title of the company's longest-running publication, the first issue appearing with a cover date of Winter 1942. Starting with issue #114, the title was shortened to simply Archie. The flagship series was relaunched from issue #1 in July 2015 with a new look and design suited for a new generation of readers. Archie Comics characters and concepts have also appeared in numerous films, television programs, cartoons, and video games.Comic Book Guy
Comic Book Guy is the common, popular name for Jeff Albertson, a recurring fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Hank Azaria and first appeared in the second-season episode "Three Men and a Comic Book", which originally aired on May 9, 1991. Comic Book Guy is the proprietor of a comic book store, The Android's Dungeon & Baseball Card Shop. He is based on "every comic book store guy in America" and represents a stereotypical middle-aged comic-book collector. He is well known for his distinctive accent, disagreeable personality and his catchphrase, "Worst [blank] ever!"Comic Book Resources
Comic Book Resources, also known as CBR, is a website dedicated to the coverage of comic book-related news and discussion.DC Comics
DC Comics, Inc. is an American comic book publisher. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. since 1967. DC Comics is one of the largest and oldest American comic book companies, and produces material featuring numerous culturally iconic heroic characters including: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Nightwing, Green Arrow, Aquaman, Hawkman, Cyborg and Supergirl.
Most of their material takes place in the fictional DC Universe, which also features teams such as the Justice League, the Justice Society of America, the Suicide Squad, and the Teen Titans, and well-known villains such as The Joker, Lex Luthor, Catwoman, Darkseid, Sinestro, Brainiac, Black Adam, Ra's al Ghul and Deathstroke. The company has also published non-DC Universe-related material, including Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and many titles under their alternative imprint Vertigo.
The initials "DC" came from the company's popular series Detective Comics, which featured Batman's debut and subsequently became part of the company's name. Originally in Manhattan at 432 Fourth Avenue, the DC Comics offices have been located at 480 and later 575 Lexington Avenue; 909 Third Avenue; 75 Rockefeller Plaza; 666 Fifth Avenue; and 1325 Avenue of the Americas. DC had its headquarters at 1700 Broadway, Midtown Manhattan, New York City, but it was announced in October 2013 that DC Entertainment would relocate its headquarters from New York to Burbank, California in April 2015.Random House distributes DC Comics' books to the bookstore market, while Diamond Comic Distributors supplies the comics shop specialty market. DC Comics and its longtime major competitor Marvel Comics (acquired in 2009 by The Walt Disney Company, WarnerMedia's main competitor) together shared approximately 70% of the American comic book market in 2017.Dark Horse Comics
Dark Horse Comics is an American comic book and manga publisher. It was founded in 1986 by Mike Richardson in Milwaukie, Oregon.
Richardson started out by opening his first comic book store, Pegasus Books, in Bend, Oregon, in 1980. From there he was able to use the funds from his retail operation to start his own publishing company. Dark Horse Presents and Boris the Bear were the two initial titles in 1986 and within one year of its first publication, Dark Horse Comics added nine new titles to its roster, including Hellboy, The American, The Mask, Trekker, and Black Cross. Frank Miller's Sin City is one of the most famous works associated with Dark Horse, and it has become something of a signature comic to the publishing house. They also established a reputation for publishing licensed works such as Aliens, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Conan, and Star Wars.
In 2011, Dark Horse Presents relaunched including the return of Paul Chadwick's Concrete and Steve Niles' Criminal Macabre, as well as new talent including Sanford Greene, Carla Speed McNeil, Nate Crosby and others. In late summer of 2018 a set of comic books for Mysticons be were released.Deadpool
Deadpool (Wade Winston Wilson) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Fabian Nicieza and artist/writer Rob Liefeld, the character first appeared in The New Mutants #98 (cover-dated February 1991). Initially Deadpool was depicted as a supervillain when he made his first appearance in The New Mutants and later in issues of X-Force, but later evolved into his more recognizable antiheroic persona. Deadpool, whose real name is Wade Wilson, is a disfigured mercenary with the superhuman ability of an accelerated healing factor and physical prowess. The character is known as the "Merc with a Mouth" because of his tendency to talk and joke constantly, including breaking the fourth wall for humorous effect and running gags.
The character's popularity has seen him featured in numerous forms of other media. In the 2004 series Cable & Deadpool, he refers to his own scarred appearance as "Ryan Reynolds crossed with a Shar-Pei". Reynolds himself would eventually portray the character in the X-Men film series, appearing in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), Deadpool (2016), and its sequel Deadpool 2 (2018).Golden Age of Comic Books
The Golden Age of Comic Books describes an era of American comic books from the late 1930s to circa 1950. During this time, modern comic books were first published and rapidly increased in popularity. The superhero archetype was created and many well-known characters were introduced, including Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel (later known as SHAZAM!), Captain America, and Wonder Woman.Grand Comics Database
The Grand Comics Database (GCD) is an Internet-based project to build a database of comic book information through user contributions. The GCD project is cataloging information on creator credits, story details, reprints, and other information useful to the comic book reader, comic collector, fan, and scholar. The GCD is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in Arkansas.Jack Kirby
Jack "King" Kirby (born Jacob Kurtzberg ; August 28, 1917 – February 6, 1994) was an American comic book artist, writer, and editor, widely regarded as one of the medium's major innovators and one of its most prolific and influential creators. He grew up in New York City, and learned to draw cartoon figures by tracing characters from comic strips and editorial cartoons. He entered the nascent comics industry in the 1930s, drawing various comics features under different pen names, including Jack Curtiss, before ultimately settling on Jack Kirby. In 1940, he and writer-editor Joe Simon created the highly successful superhero character Captain America for Timely Comics, predecessor of Marvel Comics. During the 1940s Kirby regularly teamed with Simon, creating numerous characters for that company and for National Comics Publications, later to become DC Comics.
After serving in the European Theater in World War II, Kirby produced work for DC, Harvey Comics, Hillman Periodicals, and other publishers. At Crestwood Publications, he and Simon created the genre of romance comics and later founded their own short-lived comic company, Mainline Publications. Kirby was involved in Timely's 1950s iteration, Atlas Comics, which in the next decade became Marvel. There, in the 1960s, Kirby, under writer-editor Stan Lee, created many of the company's major characters, including the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Hulk. The Lee–Kirby titles garnered high sales and critical acclaim, but in 1970, feeling he had been treated unfairly, largely in the realm of authorship credit and creators' rights, Kirby left the company for rival DC.
At DC, Kirby created his Fourth World saga, which spanned several comics titles. While these series proved commercially unsuccessful and were canceled, the Fourth World's New Gods have continued as a significant part of the DC Universe. Kirby returned to Marvel briefly in the mid-to-late 1970s, then ventured into television animation and independent comics. In his later years, Kirby, who has been called "the William Blake of comics", began receiving great recognition in the mainstream press for his career accomplishments, and in 1987 he was one of the three inaugural inductees of the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. In 2017, Kirby was posthumously named a Disney Legend with Lee for their co-creations not only in the field of publishing, but also because those creations formed the basis for The Walt Disney Company's financially and critically successful media franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Kirby was married to Rosalind Goldstein in 1942. They had four children, and remained married until his death from heart failure in 1994, at the age of 76. The Jack Kirby Awards and Jack Kirby Hall of Fame were named in his honor, and he is known as "The King" among comics fans for his many influential contributions to the medium.Joker (character)
The Joker is a fictional supervillain created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson who first appeared in the debut issue of the comic book Batman (April 25, 1940), published by DC Comics. Credit for the Joker's creation is disputed; Kane and Robinson claimed responsibility for the Joker's design, while acknowledging Finger's writing contribution. Although the Joker was planned to be killed off during his initial appearance, he was spared by editorial intervention, allowing the character to endure as the archenemy of the superhero Batman.
In his comic book appearances, the Joker is portrayed as a criminal mastermind. Introduced as a psychopath with a warped, sadistic sense of humor, the character became a goofy prankster in the late 1950s in response to regulation by the Comics Code Authority, before returning to his darker roots during the early 1970s. As Batman's nemesis, the Joker has been part of the superhero's defining stories, including the murder of Jason Todd—the second Robin and Batman's ward—and the paralysis of one of Batman's allies, Barbara Gordon. The Joker has had various possible origin stories during his decades of appearances. The most common story involves him falling into a tank of chemical waste which bleaches his skin white and turns his hair green and lips bright red; the resulting disfigurement drives him insane. The antithesis of Batman in personality and appearance, the Joker is considered by critics to be his perfect adversary.
The Joker possesses no superhuman abilities, instead using his expertise in chemical engineering to develop poisonous or lethal concoctions, and thematic weaponry, including razor-tipped playing cards, deadly joy buzzers, and acid-spraying lapel flowers. The Joker sometimes works with other Gotham City supervillains such as the Penguin and Two-Face, and groups like the Injustice Gang and Injustice League, but these relationships often collapse due to the Joker's desire for unbridled chaos. The 1990s introduced a romantic interest for the Joker in his former psychiatrist, Harley Quinn, who becomes his villainous sidekick. Although his primary obsession is Batman, the Joker has also fought other heroes including Superman and Wonder Woman.
One of the most iconic characters in popular culture, the Joker has been listed among the greatest comic book villains and fictional characters ever created. The character's popularity has seen him appear on a variety of merchandise, such as clothing and collectible items, inspire real-world structures (such as theme park attractions), and be referenced in a number of media. The Joker has been adapted to serve as Batman's adversary in live-action, animated, and video game incarnations, including the 1960s Batman television series (played by Cesar Romero) and in films by Jack Nicholson in Batman (1989); Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008); Jared Leto in Suicide Squad (2016); and Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (2019). Mark Hamill, Troy Baker, and others have provided the character's voice.Limited series (comics)
In the field of comic books, a limited series is a comics series with a predetermined number of issues. A limited series differs from an ongoing series in that the number of issues is finite and determined before production, and it differs from a one shot in that it is composed of multiple issues. The term is often used interchangeably with miniseries (mini-series) and maxiseries (maxi-series), usually depending on the length and number of issues. In Dark Horse Comics' definition of a limited series, "This term primarily applies to a connected series of individual comic books. A limited series refers to a comic book series with a clear beginning, middle and end." Dark Horse Comics and DC Comics refer to limited series of two to eleven issues as miniseries and series of twelve issues or more as maxiseries, but other publishers alternate terms.Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics is the brand name and primary imprint of Marvel Worldwide Inc., formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, a publisher of American comic books and related media. In 2009, The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Worldwide's parent company.
Marvel started in 1939 with the common name for that early Golden Age is Timely Comics, and by the early 1950s, had generally become known as Atlas Comics. The Marvel era began in 1961, the year that the company launched The Fantastic Four and other superhero titles created by Steve Ditko, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and many others. The Marvel brand had been used over the years, but solidified as the company's only brand with in a couple of years.
Marvel counts among its characters such well-known superheroes as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Captain America, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Wolverine, the Silver Surfer, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, the Punisher and Deadpool, such teams as the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Midnight Sons and the Guardians of the Galaxy, and supervillains including Thanos, Doctor Doom, Magneto, Ultron, Green Goblin, Red Skull, Loki, Doctor Octopus and Venom. Most of Marvel's fictional characters operate in a single reality known as the Marvel Universe, with most locations mirroring real-life places; many major characters are based in New York City.Review aggregator
A review aggregator is a system that collects reviews of products and services (such as films, books, video games, software, hardware, and cars). This system stores the reviews and uses them for purposes such as supporting a website where users can view the reviews, selling information to third parties about consumer tendencies, and creating databases for companies to learn about their actual and potential customers. The system enables users to easily compare many different reviews of the same work. Many of these systems calculate an approximate average assessment, usually based on assigning a numeric value to each review related to its degree of positive rating of the work.
Review aggregation sites have begun to have economic effects on the companies that create or manufacture items under review, especially in certain categories such as electronic games, which are expensive to purchase. Some companies have tied royalty payment rates and employee bonuses to aggregate scores, and stock prices have been seen to reflect ratings, as related to potential sales. It is widely accepted in the literature that there is a strong correlation between sales and aggregated scores. Due to the influence reviews have over sales decisions, manufacturers are often interested in measuring these reviews for their own products. This is often done using a business-facing product review aggregator. In the film industry, according to Reuters, big studios pay attention to aggregators but "they don’t always like to assign much importance to them".Stan Lee
Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber ; December 28, 1922 – November 12, 2018) was an American comic book writer, editor, publisher, and producer. He rose through the ranks of a family-run business to become Marvel Comics' primary creative leader for two decades, leading its expansion from a small division of a publishing house to a multimedia corporation that dominated the comics industry.
In collaboration with others at Marvel—particularly co-writer/artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko—he co-created numerous popular fictional characters, including superheroes Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man. In doing so, he pioneered a more naturalistic approach to writing superhero comics in the 1960s, and in the 1970s he challenged the restrictions of the Comics Code Authority, indirectly leading to changes in its policies. In the 1980s he pursued development of Marvel properties in other media, with mixed results. Following his retirement from Marvel in the 1990s, he remained a public figurehead for the company, and frequently made cameo appearances in films and television shows based on Marvel characters, on which he received an executive producer credit. Meanwhile, he continued independent creative ventures into his 90s, until his death in 2018.
Lee was inducted into the comic book industry's Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1995. He received the NEA's National Medal of Arts in 2008.Superhero
A superhero (sometimes rendered super-hero or super hero or Super) is a type of heroic stock character, usually possessing supernatural or superhuman powers, who is dedicated to fighting the evil of their universe, protecting the public, and usually battling supervillains. A female superhero is sometimes called a superheroine (also rendered super-heroine or super heroine), although the word superhero is also commonly used for females. Superhero fiction is the genre of fiction that is centered on such characters, especially in American comic book and films since the 1930s.
By most definitions, characters do not require actual
superhuman powers or phenomena to be deemed superheroes. While the Dictionary.com definition of "superhero" is "a figure, especially in a comic strip or cartoon, endowed with superhuman powers and usually portrayed as fighting evil or crime", the longstanding Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the definition as "a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers; also: an exceptionally skillful or successful person". Terms such as masked crime fighters, costumed adventurers or masked vigilantes are sometimes used to refer to characters such as the Spirit, who may not be explicitly referred to as superheroes but nevertheless share similar traits.
Some superheroes use their powers to counter daily crime while also combating threats against humanity from supervillains, who are their criminal counterparts. Often at least one of these supervillains will be the superhero's archenemy. Some long-running superheroes and superheroines such as Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Hulk, Green Lantern, the Flash, Captain America, Thor, Wolverine, Iron Man and the X-Men have a rogues gallery of many villains. There are movies and TV shows featuring various super heroes.Superhero comics
Superhero comics are one of the most common genres of American comic books. The genre rose to prominence in the 1930s and became extremely popular in the 1940s and has remained the dominant form of comic book in North America since the 1960s. Superhero comics feature stories about superheroes and the universes these characters inhabit.
Beginning with the introduction of Superman in 1938 in Action Comics #1 — an anthology of adventure features — comic books devoted to superheroes (heroic people with extraordinary or superhuman abilities and skills, or god-like powers and attributes) ballooned into a widespread genre, coincident with the beginnings of World War II and the end of the Great Depression.The Big Cartoon DataBase
The Big Cartoon DataBase (or BCDB for short) is an online database of information about animated cartoons, animated feature films, animated television shows, and cartoon shorts.
The BCDB project began in 1996 as a list of Disney animated features on creator Dave Koch's local computer. In response to increasing interest in the material, the database went online in 1998 as a searchable resource dedicated to compiling information about cartoons, including production details such as voice actors, producers, and directors, as well as plot summaries and user reviews of cartoons. In 2003, BCDB became a 501(c) non-profit corporation. On June 24, 2009, it was announced by creator Dave Koch on his BCDB forums that the site had 100,000 titles.The Incredible Hulk (comic book)
The Incredible Hulk is an ongoing comic book series featuring the Marvel Comics superhero the Hulk and his alter ego Dr. Bruce Banner. First published in May 1962, the series ran for six issues before it was cancelled in March 1963, and the Hulk character began appearing in Tales to Astonish. With issue #102, Tales to Astonish was renamed to The Incredible Hulk in April 1968, becoming its second volume. The series continued to run until issue #474 in March 1999 when it was replaced with the series Hulk which ran until February 2000 and was retitled to The Incredible Hulk's third volume, running until March 2007 when it became The Incredible Hercules with a new title character. The Incredible Hulk returned in September 2009 beginning at issue #600, which became The Incredible Hulks in November 2010 and focused on the Hulk and the modern incarnation of his expanded family. The series returned to The Incredible Hulk in December 2011 and ran until January 2013, when it was replaced with The Indestructible Hulk as part of Marvel's Marvel NOW! relaunch.