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From political cartoons and the newspaper funny pages to emotionally resonant biographies and multi-volume superhero epics, the scope of comics is a broad one. While many people may still hold onto the outdated idea that comics are silly or childish, the truth is comics comprise a multi-billion-dollar industry with an immense, world-spanning fanbase of all ages and from all walks of life. Whether you consume them as syndicated strips on cheap newsprint or as serialized arcs in glossy, collector’s edition volumes (often labeled “graphic novels”), comics have something to offer everyone.
Comics in the US began in earnest at the tail end of the 19th century, with the first newspaper comic strip in 1896. However, if you look back to political cartoons and other forms where text and image collide, you could actually say comics have been around, in one form or another, for centuries. Since the early 20th century, iconic characters like Superman and Captain America have leapt from the pages of comics and onto the screen, culminating in comic books as the source material for some of our most successful films, television shows, and video games. Comics have also proven to be an ideal form for memoirs, biographies, historical narratives, and other more “serious” literature, with many titles becoming bestsellers and even finding their way into school curricula.
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