Comic Books and Graphic Novels
The idea of telling continuing stories and showing the passing of time by drawing pictures in different boxes, as opposed to having just a single cartoon, was a turn-of-the-last-century innovation. In America, Richard F. Outcault is generally credited with the creation of newspaper comic strips. He had been a scientific and technical illustrator for Thomas Edison's laboratories but wanted to combine his drafting skills with his keen social observations and so began creating comic art. In April of 1895, Joseph Pulitzer's New York World agreed to carry Outcault's Hogan's Alley, which started as a single panel but gradually evolved into a "strip." One of the characters was a buck-toothed street urchin named Mickey Dugan. He wore an oversized shirt and had his head shaved, which was a common practice to prevent head lice. What "The Kid" said was either printed on the front of his shirt or in a cut line underneath.
The newspaper had just purchased a color press with the intention of printing great art pieces and explaining them to the public, but the technology was not advanced enough to get satisfactory color separations and so the newspaper looked for other ways to get a return on its investment. Yellow was the easiest color to reproduce and a pressman took it upon himself to color Mickey Dugan's shirt yellow. Mickey Dugan became so famous as "The Yellow Kid" that the name of the strip was changed, and the bidding back and forth between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst to print "The Yellow Kid" became so vitriolic and unethical that it contributed to the acceptance of the term yellow journalism, which was first used in 1898 to refer to the competition between Pulitzer's New York World and Hearst's New York Journal and the sensationalized stories that both papers were printing about Spanish atrocities in Cuba.
Bill Blackbeard, who edited a 1995 book celebrating the centennial of comic strips, R. F. Outcault's The Yellow Kid: A Centennial Celebration of the Kid Who Started the Comics by Richard Felton Outcault described The Kid as "the first great newspaper comic character" and the "lucrative predecessor" to such other characters as Maggie and Jiggs, Popeye, Blondie, the Gumps, Dick Tracy, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and Charlie Brown and Snoopy. In the 1930s, such storytelling was banned in Italy by Mussolini, while in the 1950s comic books were investigated and castigated for their moral content in an investigation led by U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee. When radio arrived, comics were counted for dead; again their demise was predicted when movies started to talk, and then again when television programming was developed. Today's big threat to comic strips is the shrunken space in newspapers and the desire of editors to cram in a comic strip to please every taste. Some newspapers crowd as many as twenty or thirty strips onto a double-page spread, so that they all end up practically unreadable.
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