Comics (via Latin, from the Greek "Κωμικός", kōmikos, of or pertaining to "comedy", from kōmos "revel".) is a graphic medium in which images are utilised in order to convey a sequential narrative; the term, derived from massive early use to convey... [more]
Comics (via Latin, from the Greek "Κωμικός", kōmikos, of or pertaining to "comedy", from kōmos "revel".) is a graphic medium in which images are utilised in order to convey a sequential narrative; the term, derived from massive early use to convey comic themes, came to be applied to all uses of this medium including those which are far from comic. It is the sequential nature of the pictures, and the predominance of pictures over words, that distinguish comics from picture books, though there is some overlap between the two media. Most comics combine words with images, often indicating speech in the form of word balloons, but wordless comics, such as The Little King, are not uncommon. Words other than dialogue, captions for example, usually expand upon the pictures, but sometimes act in counterpoint.
Early precursors of how comics we know it today include Trajan's Column and the work of William Hogarth. By 19th century, the medium as we know it today, began to take form among European and American artists. Comics as a real mass medium started to emerge in the United States in the early 20th century, with the newspaper comic strip, where its form began to be standardized (image-driven, speech balloons etc). The combination of words and pictures proved popular, and quickly spread throughout the world. Comic strips were soon gathered into cheap booklets, comic books, and original comic books soon followed. Today, comics are found in newspapers, magazines, comic books, graphic novels, and on the web.
Although historically the form dealt with humorous subject matter, its scope has expanded to encompass the full range of literary genres. Also see: Comic strip and cartoon. In the anglo-saxon world, comics are still typically seen as a low art, although there are a few exceptions, such as Krazy Kat and Barnaby. However, such an elitist "low art/high art" distinction doesn't exist in the french speaking world (and, to some extent, continental Europe), where the Bandes Dessinees medium as a whole is commonly accepted as "the Ninth Art", is usually dedicated a non-negligeable space in bookshops and libraries, and is regularly celebrated in international events such as the Angoulême International Comics Festival.
In the late 20th and early 21st century there has been a movement to rehabilitate the medium. Critical discussions of the form appeared as early as the 1920s, but serious studies were rare until the late 20th century.
Although practitioners can eschew any formal constraints, they often use particular forms and conventions to convey narration and speech, or to evoke emotional or sensuous responses. Devices such as speech balloons and boxes are used to indicate dialogue and impart establishing information, while panels, layout, gutters and zip ribbons can help indicate the flow of the story. Comics use of text, ambiguity, symbolism, design, iconography, literary technique, mixed media and stylistic elements of art help build a subtext of meanings. Different conventions were developed around the globe, from the manga of Japan to the manhua of China, the comic books of the United States, and the larger hardcover albums in Europe. [show less]