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This article is about comics, the art form. There is a separate article about comics, the humorous performers also known as comedians.

Comics is an art form using a series of static images in fixed sequence. Written text is often incorporated into the images. The two most common forms of comics are comic strips (as appear in newspapers) and comic books (also popularly called manga when referring to Japanese comic books). Large volumes or collections of comic books are often termed graphic novels.

Table of contents
1 Definition
2 History
3 Media
4 Related articles
5 External links


The precise definition of comics remains a subject of debate, with some scholars insisting that their printed nature is crucial to the definition, or that they should be defined by the interdependence of image and text. Others define the medium in terms of its sequential nature. Artist Will Eisner has referred to comics as sequential art. Artist Scott McCloud refined this definition in his 1993 work of comics theory, Understanding Comics. According to McCloud, "[Comics are] juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer." By this definition, single panel illustrations (such as The Far Side, The Family Circus, or many political cartoons) are not comics, but are instead cartoons.

The comic form has extended to new media as they have been developed, although in spirit they are the same. These include web comics and sprite comics.

The term comics is typically not applied to animation, which uses technology to create the illusion of true movement, rather than relying on being a sequence of static images.

Some may consider storyboards for films to be a form of comics.


When comics originated is a matter of debate. While many point to early precidents such as Egyptian hieroglyphics, European stained glass windows or the Bayeux Tapestry, there is increasing agreement that recognizably modern comics begin with the Swiss artist and author Rodolphe Töpffer, who began producing printed comic strips in the mid-1820s.

The term "comics" likely originated in early 20th century comic strips, which were originally a venue for serial and gag humor (i.e., the name came from comedy). Comic books developed as collections of previously printed newspaper comic strips and carried the name forward. This use of a term traditionally applied to subject matter instead being applied to a medium is sometimes confusing.

Though there is little about the medium that intrinsically favors one type of story over another, certain genres have dominated the modern comics, and comics have often been marketed to children and adolescents. These genres include anthropomorphic funny animals, science fiction and horror, romance and superhero adventure. Journalistic, historical, educational, erotic, autobiographical, non-narrative and propagandistic comics have also been produced.

A radical break with the traditional comic genres occurred in the late 1960s with the advent of satirical, psychedelic, and sexually explicit underground comics. Those set the precident for a subsequent (and ongoing) international movement toward personal, artistically ambitious comics that are published without the involvement of the "mainstream" comic book industry. These are loosely grouped under the labels "independent" or "alternative" comics.


The images in printed comics most often originate as pen and ink drawings, but there are exceptions. A few artists use paint, pastel or pencil in their comics, and an increasing number use computer-based drawing tools. Comics that combine photographic images and speech balloons are sometimes known as fotonovelas.

Related articles

External links