What is a comic book - definition, features, types and interesting facts

If in America more than one generation has grown up on comics, in Russia interest in this genre has appeared relatively recently. Until now, there is a perception that the stories in the pictures are intended mainly for children and adolescents. But is it really? What is a comic book - entertaining reading about Superheroes or an art form comparable to film and literature? Let's try to figure it out.

What is a comic

Meaning of the word "comic"

This genre originated in the pages of American newspapers in the late 19th century. "Comics" - short for English "comic" (funny) and "strip" (strip, picture). Drawn stories are an interesting synthesis of literature and graphics. A comic book is a series of pictures with the help of which a coherent narration is kept. As in the literary work, there are major and minor heroes, antagonists. The text may not be at all, or it is a short signature.

"Stories in Pictures" are close to animation and film. A film on film can be compared to a very long and slow comic. Not by chance Superheroes and characters of the Japanese manga migrated to the blue screens.

Appearance history

The forerunners of the comics were the stories in pictures. Beginning in the 16th century, the lives of saints in engravings called "hallelujas" were sold in Europe. In the 18th century, William Hogarth created a series of political cartoons, united by one common thought.

In the 19th century, illustrated stories became quite popular. Of particular note is the Swiss cartoonist R. Tepfer, who first placed the text under the corresponding picture. The poem of the German V. Bush about the mischievous Max and Moritz, published in 1865, is also considered a harbinger of the comic book. Text and pictures in it are closely related to each other.

Competition between newspaper monopolies in the United States led to the final approval of the comic book genre. Stories in pictures were designed to attract new readers. The first American comic "Teddy bear and the tiger" was released in 1892.

Comics in Russian

In 1896, the World newspaper began to print the story of the little yellow kid.In terms of its design, it is similar to modern comics: the same characters, a consistent plot, and dialogues in the framework of one illustration. The author of the story was soon lured away to the New York Journal. The owners of newspapers have long fought for their rights to the yellow kid, for which they got the apt nickname "yellow press". Subsequently, the expression has acquired a different meaning.


The “golden time” of comics in America is called the 30-50 year of the twentieth century. During this period, fantasy and adventure dominated the genres. The famous Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Atomic Man, Captain America were born.

Comics how to create

Gradually formed a set of expressive means. With the help of paints, artists tried to influence the reader. So, in the Superman comics, bright colors predominate: blue, red, blue, white. Batman is depicted in a dark, black and gray tones, which makes the story ominous. Drawing characters, facial expressions - all this is important.

Comics are not only pictures, but also capacious, concise text. Direct speech is depicted as a “verbal bubble” ejected from the mouth or head of a character. It is also called the phylacter. The words of the author are placed under the frame.The language is very emotional, widely used exclamations, onomatopoeia, irony, epithets, hyperbole, metaphors, street slang. To convey the emotional intensity of the artist often plays with the shape, color or size of the font.

Types of comics

Large-scale studies of this genre, scientists began in the 60s of the last century. Many serious works are devoted to finding answers to the question of what a comic book is. The features of the visual language, techniques, methods of framing, styles are considered. And, of course, various classifications are being developed.

In terms of volume, comics are divided into:

  • strips (accommodate several frames, most often printed in newspapers and magazines);
  • classic comics with a more complex composition and printed at known intervals;
  • graphic novels with a serious finished plot, containing more than 50 pages.

Classification by genre and readership

What is a comic? Is it true that it performs an entertainment function only? In its content, comics are similar to literary works. Among them you can find humorous, fantastic, detective and war stories, animal adventures, romance, westerns, horrors, crime. The list is endless.There are comics dedicated to classic works, serious political and social problems.

Comic it

There are no thematic restrictions for drawing stories. Recently, comics are increasingly found on the pages of textbooks and popular science books. Illustrated text helps the reader to more easily and fully understand the new information.

Depending on the readership, there are comics:

  • for boys (fantasy, adventure, battles);
  • for girls (school stories, first love);
  • youth (themes of growing up, sex, love);
  • female (relationship of opposite sexes);
  • adults (politics, economics, history, culture, sex).

Asian comics

They began to appear after the end of the Second World War, but in the West became known by the end of the 20th century, thanks to the Japanese anime. Comics in Asian countries are called differently:

  • in Japan, manga;
  • in China, Manhua;
  • in Korea - manhwa.

Anime comics

Such comics are often black and white and are read from right to left (with the exception of Korean). Manga is rational, despite its fascinating plot. In the center of events are often schoolchildren who have to go through the hardships of life,solve your psychological problems. Censorship of comics does not apply, so there are stories with a limit of 21+. Based on the manga scenes are removed cartoons (anime).

Manhua unpredictable, dynamic. They are difficult to explain in terms of logic. The characters are mainly adults, many comics are devoted to the theme of mature love.

Manhwa tells of positive, but socially unprotected heroes. For example, the poor old people who can not stand up for themselves. This type of comic book is widely represented on the global network, as the book is not funded by the government.

Comics in Russia

In Soviet times, the genre was not common. Small comics in Russian could be found in children's and humorous magazines. But in general, the phenomenon was considered "alien" to the Soviet people.

Comic story in pictures

The situation has changed in the "dashing" nineties. The first magazines that print comics by Russian artists have appeared. "Fly" was guided by an adult audience. The publishing house Veles-VA, founded by veterans of Afghanistan, published collections for young people. Publications were patriotic. In 1999, the magazine “Great Adventures” appeared, which existed for 4 years.

But the real boom of comics in Russian began in the middle of the 2010s and is still ongoing. Special publications and stores are opened, foreign graphic novels are translated, festivals are organized ("ComMission", Comic Con Russia, ComiXfest, etc.)

How to create a comic?

On the shelves of the store we see mostly foreign “stories in pictures”. Domestic authors are just beginning to master this genre. There is an urgent need for young, talented artists who are able to create fascinating plots and embody them with the help of graphics.

How to create a comic book yourself? To get started, get acquainted with the work of recognized classics: Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Frank Miller, Robert Howard, Will Eisner, Jim Steranko, Albert Uderzo, Masamune Siro, etc. You will need the skills of an artist. To create a comic book, you need to own portrait painting, to be able to draw a person and a landscape from nature, to bring perspective and facial expressions. Images can be created both by hand and with the help of special programs. For example, Adobe Photoshop, or MangaStudio applications.

Meaning of the word comic

Think in advance of the plot, as well as the characteristics of the characters. The author of the comic should be not only an artist, but also a writer who can create an exciting story.It will also require the skills of the screenwriter to break the plot into frames, to come up with concise and expressive remarks.

What is a comic? French artists called it the ninth art. This genre has great potential, it can be used to convey the smallest semantic and emotional nuances. To read comics you need to "be able to", just as you need to "be able to" hear music, understand painting or perceive a literary work.

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