Structure[ edit ] Comic books are reliant on their organization and appearance. Authors largely focus on the frame of the page, size, orientation, and panel positions. These characteristic aspects of comic books are necessary in conveying the content and messages of the author.
The key elements of comic books include panels, balloons speech bubbles , text lines , and characters. Balloons are usually convex spatial containers of information that are related to a character using a tail element.
The tail has an origin, path, tip, and pointed direction. Key tasks in the creation of comic books are writing, drawing, and coloring. American comic books[ edit ] Main article: American comic book Comics as a print medium have existed in America since the printing of The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck in in hardcover,  making it the first known American prototype comic book. Proto-comics periodicals began appearing early in the 20th century, with historians generally citing Dell Publishing 's page Famous Funnies: A Carnival of Comics as the first true American comic book; Goulart, for example, calls it "the cornerstone for one of the most lucrative branches of magazine publishing".
The Golden Age originated the archetype of the superhero. Historians generally divide the timeline of the American comic book into eras. The Golden Age of Comic Books began in the s; which is generally considered the beginning of the comic book that we know today. The demarcation between the Silver Age and the following era, the Bronze Age of Comic Books , is less well-defined, with the Bronze Age running from the very early s through the mids.
In response to attention from the government and from the media, the U. It was not until the s that comic books could be published without passing through the inspection of the CMAA. Underground comic books[ edit ] Main article: Underground comix In the late s and early s, a surge of creativity emerged in what became known as underground comix.
Published and distributed independently of the established comics industry, most of such comics reflected the youth counterculture and drug culture of the time. Many had an uninhibited, often irreverent style; their frank depictions of nudity, sex, profanity, and politics had no parallel outside their precursors, the pornographic and even more obscure " Tijuana bibles ".
Underground comics were almost never sold at newsstands, but rather in such youth-oriented outlets as head shops and record stores, as well as by mail order. Frank Stack 's The Adventures of Jesus, published under the name Foolbert Sturgeon,   has been credited as the first underground comic;   while R.
Crumb and the crew of cartoonists who worked on Zap Comix popularized the form. The first such comics included the anthology series Star Reach , published by comic book writer Mike Friedrich from to , and Harvey Pekar 's American Splendor , which continued sporadic publication into the 21st century and which Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini adapted into a film.
Some independent comics continued in the tradition of underground comics. While their content generally remained less explicit, others resembled the output of mainstream publishers in format and genre, but were published by smaller artist-owned companies or by single artists.
A few notably RAW represented experimental attempts to bring comics closer to the status of fine art. During the s the " small press " culture grew and diversified. By the s, several independent publishers - such as Pacific , Eclipse , First , Comico , and Fantagraphics - had started releasing a wide range of styles and formats—from color-superhero, detective , and science-fiction comic books to black-and-white magazine-format stories of Latin American magical realism.
A number of small publishers in the s changed the format and distribution of their comics to more closely resemble non-comics publishing. The " minicomics " form, an extremely informal version of self-publishing , arose in the s and became increasingly popular among artists in the s,  despite reaching an even more limited audience than the small press.
Small publishers regularly releasing titles include Avatar Comics , Hyperwerks , Raytoons, and Terminal Press , buoyed by such advances in printing technology as digital print-on-demand. Graphic novel In , Richard Kyle coined the term "graphic novel". Precursors of the form existed by the s, which saw a revival of the medieval woodcut tradition by Belgian Frans Masereel ,  American Lynd Ward and others, including Stan Lee. John Publications produced the digest-sized , adult-oriented "picture novel" It Rhymes with Lust , a page digest by pseudonymous writer "Drake Waller" Arnold Drake and Leslie Waller , penciler Matt Baker and inker Ray Osrin , touted as "an original full-length novel" on its cover.
In , writer-artist Gil Kane and collaborators devised the paperback "comics novel" Blackmark. Will Eisner popularized the term "graphic novel" when he used it on the cover of the paperback edition of his work A Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories in