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Comic Books

  • By: Bart Beaty
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Gag-based humor was the hallmark of the earliest American newspaper comic strips from their origins in the mid-1890s. Strips like Buster Brown (Richard F. Outcault) and The Katzenjammer Kids (Rudolph Dirks) created the grammar of the daily strip, which was refined by early-20th-century works like Krazy Kat (George Herriman), Mutt and Jeff (Bud Fisher), Bringing Up Father (George McManus), Blondie (Chic Young), and Li’l Abner (Al Capp). The earliest comic books were an attempt to cash in on the success of these strips by collecting them as magazine-size periodicals. When the easy supply of prepublished strips dissipated, packagers turned to original material. Titles like Famous Funnies and New Comics emerged in the mid-1930s as clear imitators of the comic strip tradition.

In the 1940s, Dell Comics ...

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