A comic strip is a sequence of drawings arranged in interrelated
panels to display brief humor or form a narrative, often serialized,
with text in balloons and captions. Traditionally, throughout the 20th
century and into the 21st, these have been published in newspapers and
magazines, with horizontal strips printed in black-and-white in daily
newspapers, while Sunday newspapers offered longer sequences in
special color comics sections. With the development of the internet,
they began to appear online as webcomics. There were more than 200
different comic strips and daily cartoon panels in American newspapers
alone each day for most of the 20th century, for a total of at least
Strips are written and drawn by a comics artist or cartoonist. As the
name implies, comic strips can be humorous (for example, "gag-a-day"
strips such as Blondie, Bringing Up Father, Marmaduke, and Pearls
Starting in the late 1920s, comic strips expanded from their mirthful
origins to feature adventure stories, as seen in Popeye, Captain Easy,
Buck Rogers, Tarzan, and The Adventures of Tintin. Soap-opera
continuity strips such as
Judge Parker and
Mary Worth gained
popularity in the 1940s. All are called, generically, comic strips,
Will Eisner has suggested that "sequential art"
would be a better genre-neutral name.
In the UK and the rest of Europe, comic strips are also serialized in
comic book magazines, with a strip's story sometimes continuing over
three pages or more. Comic strips have appeared in American magazines
such as Liberty and
Boys' Life and also on the front covers of
magazines, such as the Flossy Frills series on The American Weekly
Sunday newspaper supplement.
4 Production and format
5 Sunday comics
6 Underground comic strips
8 Conventions and genres
9 Social and political influence
10 Publicity and recognition
11 Issues in U.S. newspaper comic strips
11.3 Second author
11.4 Rights to the strips
12 See also
14 Further reading
15 External links
Storytelling using a sequence of pictures has existed through history.
One medieval European example in textile form is the Bayeux Tapestry.
Printed examples emerged in 19th-century
Germany and in 18th-century
England, where some of the first satirical or humorous sequential
narrative drawings were produced. William Hogarth's 18th century
English cartoons include both narrative sequences, such as A Rake's
Progress, and single panels.
Biblia pauperum ("Paupers' Bible"), a tradition of picture Bibles
beginning in the later Middle Ages, sometimes depicted Biblical events
with words spoken by the figures in the miniatures written on scrolls
coming out of their mouths—which makes them to some extent ancestors
of the modern cartoon strips.
In China, with its traditions of block printing and of the
incorporation of text with image, experiments with what became
lianhuanhua date back to 1884.
The first newspaper comic strips appeared in North America in the late
The Yellow Kid
The Yellow Kid is usually credited as one of the
first newspaper strips. However, the art form combining words and
pictures developed gradually and there are many examples which led up
to the comic strip.
Swiss author and caricature artist
Rodolphe Töpffer (Geneva,
1799–1846) is considered the father of the modern comic strips. His
illustrated stories such as
Histoire de M. Vieux Bois
Histoire de M. Vieux Bois (1827), first
published in the USA in 1842 as The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck or
Histoire de Monsieur Jabot (1831), inspired subsequent generations of
German and American comic artists. In 1865, German painter, author,
Wilhelm Busch created the strip Max and Moritz, about
two trouble-making boys, which had a direct influence on the American
Max and Moritz
Max and Moritz was a series of severely moralistic tales
in the vein of German children's stories such as Struwwelpeter
("Shockheaded Peter"); in one, the boys, after perpetrating some
mischief, are tossed into a sack of grain, run through a mill, and
consumed by a flock of geese.
Max and Moritz
Max and Moritz provided an inspiration
for German immigrant Rudolph Dirks, who created the Katzenjammer Kids
in 1897. Familiar comic-strip iconography such as stars for pain,
sawing logs for snoring, speech balloons, and thought balloons
originated in Dirks' strip.
Katzenjammer Kids occasioned one of the first
comic-strip copyright ownership suits in the history of the medium.
When Dirks left
William Randolph Hearst
William Randolph Hearst for the promise of a better
salary under Joseph Pulitzer, it was an unusual move, since
cartoonists regularly deserted Pulitzer for Hearst. In a highly
unusual court decision, Hearst retained the rights to the name
"Katzenjammer Kids", while creator Dirks retained the rights to the
characters. Hearst promptly hired
Harold Knerr to draw his own version
of the strip. Dirks renamed his version Hans and Fritz (later, The
Captain and the Kids). Thus, two versions distributed by rival
syndicates graced the comics pages for decades. Dirks' version,
eventually distributed by
United Feature Syndicate, ran until 1979.
In the United States, the great popularity of comics sprang from the
newspaper war (1887 onwards) between Pulitzer and Hearst. The Little
Bears (1893–96) was the first American comic strip with recurring
characters, while the first color comic supplement was published by
the Chicago Inter-Ocean sometime in the latter half of 1892, followed
by the New York Journal's first color
Sunday comic pages in 1897. On
January 31, 1912, Hearst introduced the nation's first full daily
comic page in his New York Evening Journal. The history of this
newspaper rivalry and the rapid appearance of comic strips in most
major American newspapers is discussed by Ian Gordon. Numerous
events in newspaper comic strips have reverberated throughout society
at large, though few of these events occurred in recent years, owing
mainly to the declining role of the newspaper comic strip as an
The longest running American comic strips are:
Katzenjammer Kids (1897-2006; 109 years)
Gasoline Alley (1918-present)
Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Ripley's Believe It or Not! (1918-present)
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith (1919-present)
Little Orphan Annie
Little Orphan Annie (1924-2010; 86 years)
Most newspaper comic strips are syndicated; a syndicate hires people
to write and draw a strip and then distributes it to many newspapers
for a fee. Some newspaper strips begin or remain exclusive to one
newspaper. For example, the Pogo comic strip by
Walt Kelly originally
appeared only in the New York Star in 1948 and was not picked up for
syndication until the following year.
Newspaper comic strips come in two different types: daily strips and
Sunday strips. In the United States, a daily strip appears in
newspapers on weekdays, Monday through Saturday, as contrasted with a
Sunday strip, which typically only appears on Sundays. Daily strips
usually are printed in black and white, and Sunday strips are usually
in color. However, a few newspapers have published daily strips in
color, and some newspapers have published Sunday strips in black and
The popularity and accessibility of strips meant they were often
clipped and saved; authors including
John Updike and
Ray Bradbury have
written about their childhood collections of clipped strips. Often
posted on bulletin boards, clipped strips had an ancillary form of
distribution when they were faxed, photocopied or mailed. The
Baltimore Sun's Linda White recalled, "I followed the adventures of
Moon Mullins and Dondi, and waited each fall to see how
Lucy would manage to trick
Charlie Brown into trying to kick that
football. (After I left for college, my father would clip out that
strip each year and send it to me just to make sure I didn’t miss
Production and format
The two conventional formats for newspaper comics are strips and
single gag panels. The strips are usually displayed horizontally,
wider than they are tall. Single panels are square, circular or taller
than they are wide. Strips usually, but not always, are broken up into
several smaller panels with continuity from panel to panel. A
horizontal strip can also be used for a single panel with a single
gag, as seen occasionally in Mike Peters' Mother Goose and Grimm.
Early daily strips were large, often running the entire width of the
newspaper, and were sometimes three or more inches high.
Initially, a newspaper page included only a single daily strip,
usually either at the top or the bottom of the page. By the 1920s,
many newspapers had a comics page on which many strips were collected
together. During the 1930s, the original art for a daily strip could
be drawn as large as 25 inches wide by six inches high. Over
decades, the size of daily strips became smaller and smaller, until by
2000, four standard daily strips could fit in an area once occupied by
a single daily strip. As strips have become smaller, the number of
panels have been reduced.
Proof sheets were the means by which syndicates provided newspapers
with black-and-white line art for the reproduction of strips (which
they arranged to have colored in the case of Sunday strips). Michigan
State University Comic Art Collection librarian Randy Scott describes
these as "large sheets of paper on which newspaper comics have
traditionally been distributed to subscribing newspapers. Typically
each sheet will have either six daily strips of a given title or one
Sunday strip. Thus, a week of
Beetle Bailey would arrive at the
Lansing State Journal
Lansing State Journal in two sheets, printed much larger than the
final version and ready to be cut apart and fitted into the local
Comic strip historian
Allan Holtz described how
strips were provided as mats (the plastic or cardboard trays in which
molten metal is poured to make plates) or even plates ready to be put
directly on the printing press. He also notes that with electronic
means of distribution becoming more prevalent printed sheets "are
definitely on their way out."
NEA Syndicate experimented briefly with a two-tier daily strip, Star
Hawks, but after a few years,
Star Hawks dropped down to a single
In Flanders, the two-tier strip is the standard publication style of
most daily strips like
Spike and Suzy
Spike and Suzy and Nero. They appear Monday
through Saturday; until 2003 there were no Sunday papers in
Flanders. In the last decades, they have switched from black and
white to color.
Main article: Panel (comics)
They'll Do It Every Time
They'll Do It Every Time was often drawn in the
two-panel format as seen in this 1943 example.
Single panels usually, but not always, are not broken up and lack
continuity. The daily
Peanuts is a strip, and the daily Dennis the
Menace is a single panel. J. R. Williams' long-run Out Our Way
continued as a daily panel even after it expanded into a Sunday strip,
Out Our Way
Out Our Way with the Willets. Jimmy Hatlo's They'll Do It Every Time
was often displayed in a two-panel format with the first panel showing
some deceptive, pretentious, unwitting or scheming human behavior and
the second panel revealing the truth of the situation.
Main article: Sunday comics
Gene Ahern's The Squirrel Cage (January 3, 1937), an example of a
topper strip which is better remembered than the strip it accompanied,
Ahern's Room and Board.
Russell Patterson and Carolyn Wells' New Adventures of Flossy Frills
(January 26, 1941), an example of comic strips on Sunday magazines.
Sunday newspapers traditionally included a special color section.
Early Sunday strips (known colloquially as "the funny papers",
shortened to "the funnies"), such as
Thimble Theatre and Little Orphan
Annie, filled an entire newspaper page, a format known to collectors
as full page. Sunday pages during the 1930s and into the 1940s often
carried a secondary strip by the same artist as the main strip. No
matter whether it appeared above or below a main strip, the extra
strip was known as the topper, such as The Squirrel Cage which ran
along with Room and Board, both drawn by Gene Ahern.
During the 1930s, the original art for a
Sunday strip was usually
drawn quite large. For example, in 1930,
Russ Westover drew his Tillie
the Toiler Sunday page at a size of 17" × 37". In 1937, the
Dudley Fisher launched the innovative Right Around Home,
drawn as a huge single panel filling an entire Sunday page.
Full-page strips were eventually replaced by strips half that size.
Strips such as
The Phantom and Terry and the Pirates began appearing
in a format of two strips to a page in full-size newspapers, such as
the New Orleans Times Picayune, or with one strip on a tabloid page,
as in the Chicago Sun-Times. When Sunday strips began to appear in
more than one format, it became necessary for the cartoonist to allow
for rearranged, cropped or dropped panels. During World War II,
because of paper shortages, the size of Sunday strips began to shrink.
After the war, strips continued to get smaller and smaller because of
increased paper and printing costs. The last full-page comic strip was
Prince Valiant strip for 11 April 1971.
Comic strips have also been published in Sunday newspaper magazines.
Russell Patterson and Carolyn Wells' New Adventures of Flossy Frills
was a continuing strip series seen on
Sunday magazine covers.
Beginning January 26, 1941, it ran on the front covers of Hearst's
American Weekly newspaper magazine supplement, continuing until March
30 of that year. Between 1939 and 1943, four different stories
featuring Flossy appeared on American Weekly covers.
Sunday comics sections employed offset color printing with multiple
print runs imitating a wide range of colors. Printing plates were
created with four or more colors—traditionally, the CMYK color
model: cyan, magenta, yellow and "K" for black. With a screen of tiny
dots on each printing plate, the dots allowed an image to be printed
in a halftone that appears to the eye in different gradations. The
semi-opaque property of ink allows halftone dots of different colors
to create an optical effect of full-color imagery.
Underground comic strips
The decade of the 1960s saw the rise of underground newspapers, which
often carried comic strips, such as
Fritz the Cat
Fritz the Cat and The Fabulous
Furry Freak Brothers.
Zippy the Pinhead
Zippy the Pinhead initially appeared in
underground publications in the 1970s before being syndicated.
Bloom County and
Doonesbury began as strips in college newspapers
under different titles, and later moved to national syndication.
Underground comic strips covered subjects that are usually taboo in
newspaper strips, such as sex and drugs. Many underground artists,
notably Vaughn Bode, Dan O'Neill, Gilbert Shelton, and Art Spiegelman
went on to draw comic strips for magazines such as Playboy, National
Lampoon, and Pete Millar's CARtoons.
Jay Lynch graduated from
undergrounds to alternative weekly newspapers to Mad and children's
Main article: Webcomic
Webcomics, also known as online comics and internet comics, are comics
that are available to read on the Internet. Many are exclusively
published online, but the majority of traditional newspaper comic
strips have some Internet presence.
King Features Syndicate and other
syndicates often provide archives of recent strips on their websites.
Some, such as Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, include an email
address in each strip.
Conventions and genres
This section may contain indiscriminate, excessive, or irrelevant
examples. Please improve the article by adding more descriptive text
and removing less pertinent examples. See's guide to writing
better articles for further suggestions. (December 2014)
Most comic strip characters do not age throughout the strip's life,
but in some strips, like Lynn Johnston's award-winning For Better or
For Worse, the characters age as the years pass. The first strip to
feature aging characters was Gasoline Alley.
The history of comic strips also includes series that are not
humorous, but tell an ongoing dramatic story. Examples include The
Phantom, Prince Valiant, Dick Tracy, Mary Worth, Modesty Blaise,
Little Orphan Annie, Flash Gordon, and Tarzan. Sometimes these are
spin-offs from comic books, for example Superman, Batman, and The
A number of strips have featured animals ('funny animals') as main
characters. Some are non-verbal (Marmaduke, The Angriest Dog in the
World), some have verbal thoughts but are not understood by humans,
Snoopy in Peanuts), and some can converse with humans
(Bloom County, Calvin and Hobbes, Mutts, Citizen Dog, Buckles, Get
Fuzzy, Pearls Before Swine, and Pooch Cafe). Other strips are centered
entirely on animals, as in Pogo and Donald Duck. Gary Larson's The Far
Side was unusual, as there were no central characters. Instead The Far
Side used a wide variety of characters including humans, monsters,
aliens, chickens, cows, worms, amoebas, and more. John McPherson's
Close to Home also uses this theme, though the characters are mostly
restricted to humans and real-life situations.
Wiley Miller not only
mixes human, animal, and fantasy characters, but also does several
different comic strip continuities under one umbrella title, Non
Sequitur. Bob Thaves's Frank & Ernest began in 1972 and paved the
way for some of these strips, as its human characters were manifest in
diverse forms — as animals, vegetables, and minerals.
Social and political influence
The comics have long held a distorted mirror to contemporary society,
and almost from the beginning have been used for political or social
commentary. This ranged from the conservative slant of Little Orphan
Annie to the unabashed liberalism of Doonesbury. Pogo used animals to
particularly devastating effect, caricaturing many prominent
politicians of the day as animal denizens of Pogo's Okeefenokee Swamp.
In a fearless move, Pogo's creator
Walt Kelly took on Joseph McCarthy
in the 1950s, caricaturing him as a bobcat named Simple J. Malarkey, a
megalomaniac who was bent on taking over the characters' birdwatching
club and rooting out all undesirables. Kelly also defended the medium
against possible government regulation in the McCarthy era. At a time
when comic books were coming under fire for supposed sexual, violent,
and subversive content, Kelly feared the same would happen to comic
strips. Going before the Congressional subcommittee, he proceeded to
charm the members with his drawings and the force of his personality.
The comic strip was safe for satire.
During the early 20th century, comic strips were widely associated
with publisher William Randolph Hearst, whose papers had the largest
circulation of strips in the United States. Hearst was notorious for
his practice of yellow journalism, and he was frowned on by readers of
The New York Times
The New York Times and other newspapers which featured few or no comic
strips. Hearst's critics often assumed that all the strips in his
papers were fronts for his own political and social views. Hearst did
occasionally work with or pitch ideas to cartoonists, most notably his
continued support of George Herriman's Krazy Kat. An inspiration for
Bill Watterson and other cartoonists,
Krazy Kat gained a considerable
following among intellectuals during the 1920s and 1930s.
Some comic strips, such as
Doonesbury and The Boondocks, may be
printed on the editorial or op-ed page rather than the comics page
because of their regular political commentary. For example, the August
Doonesbury strip was awarded a
1975 Pulitzer Prize for its
depiction of the Watergate scandal.
Dilbert is sometimes found in the
business section of a newspaper instead of the comics page because of
the strip's commentary about office politics, and
Tank McNamara often
appears on the sports page because of its subject matter. Lynn
For Better or for Worse
For Better or for Worse created an uproar when one of its
supporting characters came out of the closet and announced he was
Publicity and recognition
The world's longest comic strip is 88.9-metre (292 ft) long and
on display at
Trafalgar Square as part of the London Comedy
Festival. The London
Cartoon Strip was created by 15 of Britain's
best known cartoonists and depicts the history of London.
The Reuben, named for cartoonist Rube Goldberg, is the most
prestigious award for U.S. comic strip artists. Reuben awards are
presented annually by the
National Cartoonists Society
National Cartoonists Society (NCS).
Today's strip artists, with the help of the NCS, enthusiastically
promote the medium, which is considered to be in decline due to fewer
markets (today few strips are published in newspapers outside the
United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, mainly because of the
smaller interest there, with translated versions of popular strips -
particularly in Spanish - are primarily read over the internet) and
ever-shrinking newspaper space. One particularly humorous example of
such promotional efforts is the Great Comic Strip Switcheroonie, held
in 1997 on April Fool's Day, an event in which dozens of prominent
artists took over each other's strips. Garfield’s Jim Davis, for
example, switched with Blondie’s Stan Drake, while Scott Adams
(Dilbert) traded strips with Bil Keane (The Family Circus). Even the
United States Postal Service got into the act, issuing a series of
commemorative stamps marking the comic-strip centennial in 1996.
While the Switcheroonie was a one-time publicity stunt, for one artist
to take over a feature from its originator is an old tradition in
newspaper cartooning (as it is in the comic book industry). In fact,
the practice has made possible the longevity of the genre's more
popular strips. Examples include
Little Orphan Annie
Little Orphan Annie (drawn and
plotted by Harold Gray from 1924 to 1944 and thereafter by a
succession of artists including
Leonard Starr and Andrew Pepoy), and
Terry and The Pirates, started by Milton Caniff in 1934 and picked up
by George Wunder.
A business-driven variation has sometimes led to the same feature
continuing under a different name. In one case, in the early 1940s,
Don Flowers' Modest Maidens was so admired by William Randolph Hearst
that he lured Flowers away from the Associated Press and to King
Features Syndicate by doubling the cartoonist's salary, and renamed
the feature Glamor Girls to avoid legal action by the AP. The latter
continued to publish Modest Maidens, drawn by Jay Allen in Flowers'
Issues in U.S. newspaper comic strips
As newspapers have declined, the changes have affected comic strips.
Jeff Reece, lifestyle editor of The Florida Times-Union, wrote,
Comics are sort of the 'third rail' of the newspaper."
In the early decades of the 20th century, all
Sunday comics received a
full page, and daily strips were generally the width of the page. The
competition between papers for having more cartoons than the rest from
the mid-1920s, the growth of large-scale newspaper advertising during
most of the thirties, paper rationing during World War II, the decline
on news readership (as television newscasts began to be more common)
and inflation (which has caused higher printing costs) beginning
during the fifties and sixties led to Sunday strips being published on
smaller and more diverse formats. Daily strips have suffered as well,
in 1910 the strips had an unlimited amount of panels, covering the
entire width page, while by 1930 most "dailies" had four or five
panels covering six of the eight columns occupied by a traditional
broadsheet paper, by 1958 those four panels would be narrower, and
those would have half of the space a 1910 daily strip had, and by 1998
most strips would have three panels only (with a few exceptions), or
even two or one on an occasional basis, apart from strips being
smaller, as most papers became slightly narrower. While most
cartoonist decided to follow the tide, some cartoonists have
complained about this, with Pogo ending in 1975 as a form of protest
from its creators against the practice. Since then Calvin and Hobbes
Bill Watterson has written extensively on the issue, arguing
that size reduction and dropped panels reduce both the potential and
freedom of a cartoonist. After a lengthy battle with his syndicator,
Watterson won the privilege of making half page-sized Sunday strips
where he could arrange the panels any way he liked. Many newspaper
publishers and a few cartoonists objected to this, and some papers
continued to print
Calvin and Hobbes
Calvin and Hobbes at small sizes. Opus won that
same privilege years after
Calvin and Hobbes
Calvin and Hobbes ended, while Wiley Miller
circumvented further downsizings by making his Non Sequitur Sunday
strip available only in an extremely vertical (near-page-long)
arrangement. Few newspapers still run half-page strips, as with Prince
Hägar the Horrible
Hägar the Horrible in the front page of the Reading Eagle
Sunday comics section. Actually
Universal Uclick and United Media
practically have no half-page comics, with the remaining strips from
both syndicates in this format are published only as "thirds",
"fourths", and "sixths" (also called "third tabs").
In an issue related to size limitations,
Sunday comics are often bound
to rigid formats that allow their panels to be rearranged in several
different ways while remaining readable. Such formats usually include
throwaway panels at the beginning, which some newspapers will omit for
space. As a result, cartoonists have less incentive to put great
efforts into these panels.
Mutts were known during the
mid-to-late 80s and 1990s respectively for their throwaways on their
Sunday strips, however both strips now run "generic" title panels.
With the success of
The Gumps during the 1920s, it became commonplace
for strips (comedy- and adventure-laden alike) to have lengthy stories
spanning weeks or months. The "Monarch of Medioka" story in Floyd
Mickey Mouse comic strip ran from September 8, 1937 to
May 2, 1938. Between the 1960s and the late 1980s, as television news
relegated newspaper reading to an occasional basis rather than daily,
syndicators were abandoning long stories and urging cartoonists to
switch to simple daily gags, or week-long "storylines" (with six
consecutive (mostly unrelated) strips following a same subject), with
longer storylines being used mainly on adventure-based and dramatic
strips. Strips begun during the mid-1980s or after (such as Get Fuzzy,
Over the Hedge, Monty, and others) are known for their heavy use of
storylines, lasting between one and three weeks in most cases.
The writing style of comic strips changed as well after World War II.
With an increase in the number of college-educated readers, there was
a shift away from slapstick comedy and towards more cerebral humor.
Slapstick and visual gags became more confined to Sunday strips,
Garfield creator Jim Davis put it, "Children are more
likely to read Sunday strips than dailies."
Many older strips are no longer drawn by the original cartoonist, who
has either died or retired. Such strips are known as "zombie strips".
A cartoonist, paid by the syndicate or sometimes a relative of the
original cartoonist, continues writing the strip, a tradition that
became commonplace in the early half of the 20th century. Hägar the
Horrible and Frank and Ernest are both drawn by the sons of the
creators. Some strips which are still in affiliation with the original
creator are produced by small teams or entire companies, such as Jim
Davis' Garfield, however there is some debate if these strips fall in
This act is commonly criticized by modern cartoonists including
Watterson and Pearls Before Swine's Stephan Pastis. The issue was
addressed in six consecutive Pearls strips in 2005. Charles
Peanuts fame, requested that his strip not be continued by
another cartoonist after his death. He also rejected the idea of
hiring an inker or letterer, comparing it to a golfer hiring a man to
make his putts. Schulz's family has honored his wishes and refused
numerous proposals by syndicators to continue
Peanuts with a new
Since the consolidation of newspaper comics by the first quarter of
the 20th century, most cartoonists have used a group of assistants
(with usually one of them credited). However, quite a few cartoonists
George Herriman and Charles Schulz, among others) have done
their strips almost completely by themselves; often criticizing the
use of assistants for the same reasons most have about their editors
hiring anyone else to continue their work after their retirement.
Rights to the strips
Historically, syndicates owned the creators' work, enabling them to
continue publishing the strip after the original creator retired, left
the strip, or died. This practice led to the term "legacy strips," or
more pejoratively "zombie strips"). Most syndicates signed creators to
10- or even 20-year contracts. (There have been exceptions, however,
such as Bud Fisher's
Mutt and Jeff
Mutt and Jeff being an early — if not the
earliest — case in which the creator retained ownership of his
work.) Both these practices began to change with the 1970 debut of
Universal Press Syndicate, as the company gave cartoonists a
50-percent ownership share of their work. Creators Syndicate, founded
in 1987, granted artists full rights to the strips, something that
Universal Press did in 1990, followed by
King Features in 1995. By
Tribune Media Services and
United Feature had begun granting
ownership rights to creators (limited to new and/or hugely popular
Starting in the late 1940s, the national syndicates which distributed
newspaper comic strips subjected them to very strict censorship. Li'l
Abner was censored in September 1947 and was pulled from the Pittsburg
Press by Scripps-Howard. The controversy, as reported in Time,
centered on Capp's portrayal of the U.S. Senate. Said Edward Leech of
Scripps, "We don't think it is good editing or sound citizenship to
picture the Senate as an assemblage of freaks and crooks... boobs and
As comics are easier for children to access compared to other types of
media, they have a significantly more rigid censorship code than other
Stephan Pastis has lamented that the "unwritten" censorship
code is still "stuck somewhere in the 1950s." Generally, comics are
not allowed to include such words as "damn", "sucks", "screwed", and
"hell", although there have been exceptions such as the September 22,
Mother Goose and Grimm in which an elderly man says, "This
nursing home food sucks," and a pair of Pearls Before Swine comics
from January 11, 2011 with a character named Ned using the word
"crappy". Naked backsides and shooting guns cannot be
shown, according to
Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams. Such comic
strip taboos were detailed in Dave Breger's book But That's
Unprintable (Bantam, 1955).
Many issues such as sex, narcotics, and terrorism cannot or can very
rarely be openly discussed in strips, although there are exceptions,
usually for satire, as in Bloom County. This led some cartoonists to
resort to double entendre or dialogue children do not understand, as
in Greg Evans' Luann. Young cartoonists have claimed commonplace
words, images, and issues should be allowed in the comics. Some of the
taboo words and topics are mentioned daily on television and other
forms of visual media.
Webcomics and comics distributed primarily to
college newspapers are much freer in this respect.
Cartoon Library & Museum
History of American comics
List of British comic strips
List of cartoonists
List of newspaper comic strips
Military humor comic strips
^ Comic Art Collection Archived 2010-02-12 at the Wayback Machine. at
Michigan State University Libraries
^ Eisner 2008, pp. xi–xii.
^ "histoire de la bande dessinée chinoise, les lianhuanhua (1)"
[History of Chinese comics: lianhuanhua] (in French). 2008-01-20.
Retrieved 2010-01-10. [...] le quotidien Shenbao (申报) publie dès
1884 un supplément intitulé
Magazine dla vie quotidienne, les mœurs
et les coutumes en Chine à une époque où les photographies sont
encore rares. [Translation: ... from 1884 the daily Shenbao (申报)
published a supplement called "
Magazine of the Studio of carved stone"
(点石斋画报) which contained series of narrative images done with
the baimiao technique. So this allowed the newspaper to enhance its
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Glossary of comics terminology
Comic strip formats
Daily comic strip
Female comics creators
Years in comics
China and Taiwan
France and Belgium
Based on fiction
Based on films
Based on video games
Based on television programs
Comic books on CD/DVD
Comics and comic strips made into feature films
Comics solicited but never published
Feminist comic books
Wrestling-based comic books