Comic books, according to Scott McCloud are “Juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer”. Or simply said, “Sequential Art”. (McCloud, 1993). Jeet Heer and Kent Worcester don’t agree exactly with this. This is because, McCloud’s definition doesn’t include, words, which means that “Bayeux Tapestry” (Heer and Worcester, 2009, p.25) is regarded as comics, when for most it’s not. On the other hand, “The hieroglyphics in ancient Egyptian temples are comics” said a famous professional illustrator and comic book artist, Prentis Rollins (2006, p.7). Thus, the period of time they had to change due to influence of the society and technology is either undistinguishable or at least very long. First, we had the “political cartoons” (Heer and Worcester, 2009, p.27) in the 1840’s and the newspaper comic strip. But the comic books we know today, the colourful pictures and the superhero fighting the villain to save the world, only appeared in the beginning of the 20th century. First appeared in Rodolphe Töpffer’s, Swiss comics artist, picture stories that through the use of humour and simple language were vastly spread to the western world. (Gabilliet, Beaty and Nguyen, 2010) The American’s claim, however, that the “The Yellow Kid” was the first comic book ever made. (Comic Book Plus, n.d.)
Figure 1. Action Comics 1, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/5a/Action_Comics_1.jpg
Technically, the first comic book superhero was Hugo Hercules. Who appeared in a newspaper comic, “Now wasn’t this Kind of Hugo Hercules” by J. Koerner in 1902 (lambiek.net, 2017). But the one all of us know is Superman. Created by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel in 1938. Action Comics (Figure 1) was the first comic book series that was ever released. (Dcindexes.com, n.d.). Prior to Superman, in 1936, The Phantom and The Clock debuted as the first superheroes who had a costume or a mask, however no special ab-normal superpowers. These were the breakthroughs that gave inspiration and later were the basics of creating a superhero, the audience would love. Just a year after Superman was born, Bob Kane created the Superhero that even without superpowers was able to compete with Superman himself. Batman. Through the use of intellect, self-build gadgets, a dark character and a detective style stories, Batman survived the comic book downfall after World War 2. (Thecomicbooks.com, n.d.)
It is safe to say that comic books had a lot of impact on society and vice versa, especially throughout the time of World Wars. Of course, a war with the Nazi’s was more than enough of a reason for a superhero like Capitan America to be born. When Martin Goodman saw Joe Simon’s sketch of the character, he knew it would become the next American Idol. Unlike Superman, Capitan America was born American and created a superhero during the “Project: Rebirth”. Thus, the readers could identify with him and would idolise him a lot more, than Superman at that time. Especially that he would fight with the Red Skull and the Nazi’s, during World War 2. (Marvel.com, 2010) What more Capitan America is still a human, that has simply been ‘enhanced’, and he is a human with a good heart. Thus, people will look up to him. “when the public began to rally for him to run for president, rather than exploit that opportunity for more power and influence, he instead disappointed them all by declining, believing that representing the American dream of prosperity for everyone regardless of social class or wealth was much more important” as Andy Hunsaker (2011) said. And it is those superheroes that the readers loved, the ones that aren’t afraid to admit to mistakes and are fighting for their country no mater what the cost especially at that time, when all it took was a superhero to give hope to people. (CraveOnline, 2011)
Figure 2. Chmaber of Chills, https://99designs.ie/blog/creative-inspiration/history-of-comic-book-styles/
But the society has influenced the making of comics also. Although the readers needed inspiration for the time of war, they quickly learned that superheroes were just a created character, that had no right of existing. Thus, the comic book artists had a challenge to create something that adults that came back from war would enjoy. They shifted from the superhero adventures to genres such as horror, lurid crime or romance. It was the time when comics such as, Nick Fury agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, The Incredible Hulk or Chambers of Chills (Figure 2) were introduced. During the 1970’s the comics began to raise again due to the downfall of CCA (Comics Code Athority), mainly as a result of prohibiting the horror thems as well as any mention of drugs or other important issuses in the comics. The comic books such as The Amazing Spider Man, or the stories of X-men quickly became popular as they dealt with theames such as drugs, or prejudice. In fact, it was the X-men series that started the new era of the society ‘hating on the mutans’. (99designs Blog, 2017) From there new ideas for comics have arisen.
Figure 3. Dot Art VS Technology, https://4cp.posthaven.com/in-defense-of-dots-the-lost-art-of-comic-book
Certainly, however, the sale of comic books would not be as popular now if not for the techonlogy advances. In the past comics would take weeks to make. But ‘the art of dots’ made it cheap and easy. Now people can agrue that although technology has allowed for great advancements, it has taken away the exact thing which has caused the comic art to be sensational. It took away the Art of Dots. (Figure 3). In spite of all the ‘art controversy’, the process of making the comic books hasn’t changed significanly. It would start of with an indea of course, then the writer and the artist would meet and discuss it severely – down to the tiniest detail, like the plot, the characters, the setting, the amount of action scenes, the breaking up of the pages or the amount of text in a single bubble. Once the script would be finished, the artist would read it through carefully, esspecially taking care of the detailed descriptions of locations and characters. The artist would then draw a thumnail indicating the rough layout of the page and then begin drawing on the illustraion boards. (Madehow.com, n.d.) In reality, the only detail where the process has changed is the colouring and printing. As mentioned before, in the past the printing would use CMYK or Overlays. CMYK was the process in which colours where seperated into Cyan, Magneta, Yellow and Black and making four pieces of film from a stat camera and then combining them to create one large image. Overlays, on the other hand, where what created the ‘Dot Art’. In this process one layer representing cyan, one magneta and one yellow would all be lined up on top of eachother. The camera would only print the ink where the film was left on the acetate. Then the seperators would utilize, the dot patterns on sticky acetate to create black. (Comicartistsdirect.com, n.d.) While today, the colourist scans the page onto the computer and uses a hand-coloured copy as a reference, to colour digitaly. Then the process of overlay is done. Till this day acetate is used. But, the technique is much more accurate as well as a lot faster, with the ability to print through all the sheets at once.
One can even argue that there is no need for printing anymore. With the use of simple device as a tablet or a smartphone, now we can view comic books within a few clicks and swipes. Not to mention the incredible difference in quality. Jim Rugg Discusses the enhancemnts the technology has made to viewing of the comics. He says, that after buying the paper verison of, ‘Hellboy in Hell #1’ he was “dissapointed”. (Gizmodo.com, 2013) Once he seen the verion of the same comic displayed didgitaly, he was amazed at how much better the quality was. (Figure 4) This simply shows that technology has enabled for comics and allowed it to survive. As well as that it has allowed for a wider audience, with the creation of motion pictures and sounds, eveyone is able to exeprience the stoires. Even those who are not the biggest fans of reading are satisfied. Not to mentntion the multi-million dollar merch production.
Figure 4. Hellboy in Hell #1 page 8, Right-Digital Display, Left-Paper Version, https://gizmodo.com/5978756/how-digital-comics-change-the-way-comic-books-are-drawnand-imagined
In reality, the society has grown vastly since the early 20th century. People expect good quality of entretainment, including comic books. In the past the society has influenced the comic book themes and the comic books gave inperation to the society. Now they serve simply as a form of spending time, unless you’re a collector.