The Funnies

It comes as no surprise that print newspapers are on a steady decline to obscurity. So what does this mean for the comic strips published in the papers? Will they die out too, or will they continue in the digital realm? It’s hard to say, but with webcomics and apps like Webtoons, comics like Blondie, Beetle Bailey, and Garfield might be able to continue on.

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Garfield by Jim Davis (October 6, 2017)

While the “golden age” of comics tends to focus on comic books, it was a golden age for all comics. Newspaper strips also featured recurring characters and entertaining storylines. These comics were more aimed at small cracks of humor rather than a drawn out story. By creating comics featuring the same characters each day or week (depending on the comic’s publishing schedule with their syndicate) helped keep consistency and a loose focus for the overall comic. It also helped readers connect to the strips and develop a dedicated fanbase. However, it was the ability to have the characters in different situations or center on different topics that appealed the casual scanner of comics as well as readers looking for a little variety.

Typically, most comics (both strips and books) have simple backgrounds so the focus is on the action. Comic strips often simplify the background quite a bit, where some have no background (just white behind the character) while others use a flat color, sometimes to indicate emotion. To indicate place or setting, many comic artists just use a line to represent the ground, counter, or wall, while others will include simple furniture—such as a chair or table—to aid in the storytelling.

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Blondie by Dean Young and John Marshall (October 2, 2017)

Another difference between the two comic forms is the overall art style. Newspaper comics are all about simplicity. Most newspaper cartoonists have a daily strip and can’t afford to spend a lot of time on it. On the other hand, comic book artists have longer deadlines and typically use a more detailed style. I think the simplicity of strips is appealing because they allow a reader to fill in the details and see themselves in the comic if they wish.

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Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (this particular comic is from the collection The Calvin and Hobbes Lazy Sunday Book)

My love of comics began with newspapers. As a little kid, I looked forward to the weekends when I’d get good breakfast and could sit on my dad’s lap while we read the comics. He introduced me to the comics I still love to read today—Blondie, Garfield, Peanuts, Zits—and my all-time-favorite, Calvin and Hobbes. Bill Watterson’s comic about an imaginative, troublemaking 6-year-old and his stuffed tiger remains my favorite because it presents mature themes through a child’s eyes.   

A quick note about my comics for today: I really focused on emulating the simple backgrounds. I often feel the need to fill the background space with something but I never know what to do. I think I’ve learned that comics don’t always need a background, and the simple addition of color can just as effective as a setting.

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A witchy comic I did for Inktober day 3. Here I use the flat color background I was trying to emulate.

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Nessie Vs the Tourists- Inktober day 4

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It’s a Bird…it’s a Plane…it’s the Golden Age of Comics!

Previously on E.A.T.comics: Most historians and scholars say the idea of “comics” began in the late 19th century with The Loves of Mr. Vieux Bois (Topffer) and Hogan’s Alley (Outcault). 

The success of Outcault’s Hogan’s Alley inspired other cartoon artists to work with newspapers and magazines, popularizing the concept of the comic.   Fast forward about 30 years, just before the second World War and comics like Little Orphan Annie (Harold Gray, 1924), Popeye (Elzie Crisler Segar, 1929) and other “pulp heroes” were sold like mini-comic books, at 10 cents a book. Then, in 1938 a new kind of comic was released. Action Comics #1 introduced Superman, “the man of steel”. Written by Jerry Siegel and illustrated by Joe Shuster, Clark Kent/Superman is an alien from the planet Krypton, who works as a journalist at the Daily Planet, uses his various superpowers to protect mankind from the forces of evil. Siegel and Shuster’s creation opened the gates to superhero comic books and the Golden Age of Comics. About a year after Superman

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Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27

made his debut, a bored socialite turned vigilante came onto the scene. Creators Bill Finger and Bob Kane introduced the world to Batman in Detective Comics #27. Unlike Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne does not possess superpowers. He gained popularity with American audiences because he didn’t need superhuman strength or heat vision. Instead, he relied on his gadgets and detective skills. Since their creation, Batman and Superman have become two of the most popular superheroes, both with complicated storylines and a host of villains to save the world from. (Many years later the publications that supported Action Comics and Detective Comics merged and eventually took on the name DC Comics.)

“The Man of Steel” and “The Dark Knight” weren’t the only big name superheroes in the fight against evil. “The First Avenger”,

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Captain America #1

aka Captain America, was launched in 1941 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby of Timely Comics (later Marvel). Unlike the DC heroes, Cap premiered in a comic under his own name (Captain America #1).  Once a scrawny boy desperate to join the army, Steve Rogers was created to be a super soldier in the midst of WWII. His all-American boy persona and Nazi-fighting adventures were hugely popular with American audiences. These three superheroes have graced the panels of comic books for nearly 80 years. Not only did they pave the way for other superhero stories, but other comic book genres as well. All three have sold thousands of issues, had TV shows and movies, and remain popular figures in current pop culture.  

While the years of the era are disputed, most agree that the Golden Age started around 1938 with Superman and ended in the early 50s. Superhero comic books’ popularity began to decline after WWII. But comic books did not die here. They continued to flourish, giving rise to genres such as westerns, sci-fi, romance, crime and horror.

Who is your favorite Golden Age superhero?

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Marvel or DC? A lot of people take sides, but not me. Both are great.

The Love of Comics

From comic strips to comic apps and from comic books to webcomics, comics are everywhere and people LOVE them. But what is it about them that people love so much? Some people read comics for the stories, some for the art, and others for the humor or the characters. Readers may also find relatability is the best part of a comic.  And then there are people who read for the whole package. In short, each person picks up a newspaper, a comic book, or opens an app for a different reason. The beauty of it is the experience is totally unique and personal. Two people may read the same strip and both may find it funny, but they’ll have different reasons for finding it humorous.

Why do I love comics? Simply, I am one of those people who loves comics for the whole package. By combining art and humor, one can tell a story in a way books and TV shows cannot—they are visual and linguistic at the same time. Comics can be both simple and complex or stupid and smart. They have the ability to disguise intelligent themes as something simple and entertaining and can teach you more than you know. People can relate to comic characters when they see a piece of themselves in a certain character or situation. The possibilities are endless.

Why do you love comics?