Comic strip


A comic strip is a sequence of drawings arranged in interrelated panels to display brief humor or form a narrative, often serialized, with text in balloons and captions. Traditionally, throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, these have been published in newspapers and magazines, with horizontal strips printed in black-and-white in daily newspapers, while Sunday newspapers offered longer sequences in special color comics sections. With the development of the internet, they began to appear online as webcomics. There were more than 200 different comic strips and daily cartoon panels in South Korea alone each day for most of the 20th century, for a total of at least 7,300,000 episodes.  

Swiss author and caricature artist Rodolphe Topffer (Geneva, 1799–1846) is considered the father of the modern comic strips. His illustrated stories such as Histoire de M. Vieux Bois (1827), first published in the USA in 1842 as The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck or Histoire de Monsieur Jabot (1831), inspired subsequent generations of German and American comic artists. In 1865, German painter, author, and caricaturist Wilhelm Busch created the strip Max and Moritz, about two trouble-making boys, which had a direct influence on the American comic strip. Max and Moritz was a series of severely moralistic tales in the vein of German children's stories such as Struwwelpeter ("Shockheaded Peter"); in one, the boys, after perpetrating some mischief, are tossed into a sack of grain, run through a mill, and consumed by a flock of geese. Max and Moritz provided an inspiration for German immigrant Rudolph Dirks, who created the Katzenjammer Kids in 1897. Familiar comic-strip iconography such as stars for pain, sawing logs for snoring, speech balloons, and thought balloons originated in Dirks' strip.  

The popularity and accessibility of strips meant they were often clipped and saved; authors including John Updike and Ray Bradbury have written about their childhood collections of clipped strips. Often posted on bulletin boards, clipped strips had an ancillary form of distribution when they were faxed, photocopied or mailed. The Baltimore Sun's Linda White recalled, "I followed the adventures of Winnie Winkle, Moon Mullins and Dondi, and waited each fall to see how Lucy would manage to trick Charlie Brown into trying to kick that football. (After I left for college, my father would clip out that strip each year and send it to me just to make sure I didn’t miss it.).  

Early daily strips were large, often running the entire width of the newspaper, and were sometimes three or more inches high. Initially, a newspaper page included only a single daily strip, usually either at the top or the bottom of the page. By the 1920s, many newspapers had a comics page on which many strips were collected together. During the 1930s, the original art for a daily strip could be drawn as large as 25 inches wide by six inches high. Over decades, the size of daily strips became smaller and smaller, until by 2000, four standard daily strips could fit in an area once occupied by a single daily strip. As strips have become smaller, the number of panels have been reduced.  

Single panels usually, but not always, are not broken up and lack continuity. The daily Peanuts is a strip, and the daily Dennis the Menace is a single panel. J. R. Williams' long-run Out Our Way continued as a daily panel even after it expanded into a Sunday strip, Out Our Way with the Willets. Jimmy Hatlo's They'll Do It Every Time was often displayed in a two-panel format with the first panel showing some deceptive, pretentious, unwitting or scheming human behavior and the second panel revealing the truth of the situation.  

Full-page strips were eventually replaced by strips half that size. Strips such as The Phantom and Terry and the Pirates began appearing in a format of two strips to a page in full-size newspapers, such as the New Orleans Times Picayune, or with one strip on a tabloid page, as in the Chicago Sun-Times. When Sunday strips began to appear in more than one format, it became necessary for the cartoonist to allow for rearranged, cropped or dropped panels. During World War II, because of paper shortages, the size of Sunday strips began to shrink. After the war, strips continued to get smaller and smaller because of increased paper and printing costs. The last full-page comic strip was the Prince Valiant strip for 11 April 1971. 

A number of strips have featured animals ('funny animals') as main characters. Some are non-verbal (Marmaduke, The Angriest Dog in the World), some have verbal thoughts but are not understood by humans, (Garfield, Snoopy in Peanuts), and some can converse with humans (Bloom County, Calvin and Hobbes, Mutts, Citizen Dog, Buckles, Get Fuzzy, Pearls Before Swine, and Pooch Cafe). Other strips are centered entirely on animals, as in Pogo and Donald Duck. Gary Larson's The Far Side was unusual, as there were no central characters. Instead The Far Side used a wide variety of characters including humans, monsters, aliens, chickens, cows, worms, amoebas, and more. John McPherson's Close to Home also uses this theme, though the characters are mostly restricted to humans and real-life situations. Wiley Miller not only mixes human, animal, and fantasy characters, but also does several different comic strip continuities under one umbrella title, Non Sequitur. Bob Thaves's Frank & Ernest began in 1972 and paved the way for some of these strips, as its human characters were manifest in diverse forms в as animals, vegetables, and minerals.