Today, Monday 25th September 2017, is Comic Book Day – a celebration that started in the United States, but an event noting the work not only of American creators who pioneered the art form, but international creators, too.
Celebrated today, for example, is the The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck, the English translation of Rodolphe Topfler’s Les Amours de Mr. Vieux Bois, published as a series of sequential pictures with text captions in 1837 (you can view this early work online here courtesy Dartmouth Library).
While the Looking Glass comic, published in Glasgow in 1825 predates this work, Topfler’s tale has been held in high regard (and still is) as one of the earliest examples of what we would today recognise as the kind of sequential storytelling that blossomed into the Ninth Art.
Comics have of course had a huge impact on popular culture ever since, be it in their own right, as ground-breaking newspaper strips such as Little Nemo, or seminal graphic novels such as Maus.
Today, comics and comic characters have become an integral part of other media, including film and TV. Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are the latest media outlets to have embraced comics with glee.
The latter company kindly sent us this great composite for some of their shows – including Preacher, American Gods and The Tick. It shows how comics-inspired show makers remain solidly influenced by the source material, not just in the stories they’re re-inventing for TV and streaming devices, but in their marketing, too.
Over the weekend, the comics form was celebrated at no less than 15 events across the UK, including Thought Bubble in Leeds (which attracted national coverage in The Guardian, bizarrely bemoaning a lack of comics content at some other events, neglecting to mention any of the other comics-dominated happenings taking place around the country at the same time).
Comics have come a long way since Obadiah Oldbuck, and while it’s true they may have been subsumed into a wider tapestry for the general public, spawning films, TV, games, cosplay and more, those visiting “comic cons” are often still finding plenty of new creators and characters to inspire – and celebrate.
Long may that continue. Happy Comic Book Day to you all!
– To celebrate Comic Book Day, simply pick up a comic book to read and use #NationalComicBookDay to post on social media