Comic Strips and Their Vast Popularity!

By Dave Gieber

Comic strips are almost as popular as comic books in some
circles. So I would be remiss if I didn’t compile an
article about them. Strips have ended up in a multitude of
newspapers and other media all over the world. Most people
who read the Sunday paper can’t pass up the comic section.
I know I sure can’t.

Comic strips are short strips or pieces of sequential art,
telling a story. They are drawn by cartoonists and are
published on a recurring basis in newspapers, magazines or
on the Internet.

Strips can be humorous like Beetle Bailey, Hi & Lois, or
Hagar the Horrible, with no continuous story but ends with
a typical punch line. Or they can have a soap opera like
continuity (like Judge Parker or Little Orphan Annie) with
serious story lines in serial form. They are, however,
nonetheless known as “comics” – though the term “sequential
art”, coined by cartoonist Will Eisner, is becoming
increasingly popular.

In America, the great newspaper icons of the time, Joseph
Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst were continuously
warring with each other during the late 1800’s and early
1900’s. This created a great popularity in comic strips and
“The Little Bears” was the first American comic with
recurring characters. Then the now famous, “Yellow Kids”
became the first color comic and was part of the first
Sunday comic section in 1897. This is where the term
“yellow journalism” supposedly formed its origin. Mutt and
Jeff was the first daily comic strip appearing in 1907.

Comic strips not only provide us with the laugh each day or
week that we must have to start the day. They also give a
political platform to some of the strip creators in which
they can pass on their social and political opinions.

Comic strips have long held a distorted mirror to
contemporary society. They have long been used for
political and social commentary, ranging from the staunch
conservative values 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. Creator Walt
, in a gutsy move, took on Joseph McCarthy in the
1950s, caricaturing him as a bobcat named Simple J.
, a megalomaniac bent on taking over the
characters’ bird watching club and rooting out all

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. Due to his actions, the comic
strip remained safe for creative satire.

Comic strips have also made quite a splash on the Net since
the World Wide Web came into play in the 1990s. This led to
an explosion of amateur webcomics, comic strips created
solely for Web sites. Webcomics differ from published
comic strips, in that anyone can start his own strip and
publish it on the Web. No longer is there any need for a
creator to meet the approval of a publisher or syndicate.

Currently there are hundreds of webcomics. Many of which
are low quality and sporadically updated. However, a number
have endured, and the best ones rival their newspaper and
magazine counterparts in terms of quality and quantity.
Megatokyo, Penny Arcade, PvP, Sluggy Freelance, and User
Friendly are considered to be among the best of the

The majority of traditional newspaper comic strips now have
some Internet presence. Syndicates often provide archives
of recent strips on their websites.

So the next time you sit down to the Sunday paper, take
particular note of the funnies section. Keep your favorite
comic strips near and dear to your heart. And remember the
trials and tribulations these strips have gone through to
continue to provide you with everlasting entertainment.

Dave Gieber is the owner and editor of a website built around one of his childhood passions. Learn the basic essentials to comic book collecting success with this free 5-day course: Comic Strips

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