In 1837 there came a small, seemingly inconsequential shift in the way stories were told. One Obadiah Oldbuck was drawn into existence as a series of sequential pictures with text captions. It was originally created with the purpose of being a diversion for the creator and his friends, but all too unexpected it became incredibly popular in both the US and France. This is often considered the first comic, and Rodolphe Töpffer is often considered the father of the genre. Comic Book Day honors this man and everything that has come to follow from that first humble publication.
History of Comic Book Day
While Obadiah Oldbuck was considered to be the first comic, in 1933 the publication known as Famous Funnies is considered to be the first actual comic book. It was produced in the United States from a collection of comic strips that had appeared earlier in newspapers. While the term ‘comic’ implies that the tone of these strips are always humorous, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Comics have been used as a medium for telling stories of all kinds, and while the debate raged for a long time as to whether or not comics could be considered literature, it was the publication of Maus that settled that argument once and for all.
Maus was published by the American Cartoonish Art Spiegelman, and was originally published in a serialized form for 11 years from 1980-1991. It was a recounting of the experiences of his father as a Polish Jew and a survivor of the Holocaust. It covered the era from the years before World War II straight through to the liberation of his parents from the Nazi Concentration camps. It is often considered to be one of the most important texts on the Holocaust and a painfully real retelling of the struggle and survival of Jews through these dark times. It also stood as a shining example of the fact that comic books could cover incredibly difficult subjects in a real and approachable way.
How to celebrate Comic Book Day
Whether you grew up glued to the pages of comic books, or you’ve never experienced the wonders that lie between their pages, Comic Book Day encourages you to get out and embrace this incredible story telling medium. This isn’t a day to simply peruse the funny pages in the newspaper, but to head out to your local comic shop and remember or discover the amazing tales that lie between the pages of comic books.