Monday, July 22, 2013

Gerard Jones

Gerard Jones is the author of Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book.

From his Q & A with Randy Dotinga for the Christian Science Monitor:

Q: How did comic books first come into being?

A: They came out of the newspaper comic strips, which were mostly humor along with things like Tarzan and Dick Tracy.

The first comic books were just reprints of the newspaper comics, a way for people to read their favorite strips with continuity. But some publishers couldn't sell newspaper reprints and began to commission new material.

The artists were largely guys who were trying to make it as newspaper comic strip artists but hadn't made it. They tended to be young, oddball, and not quite as sophisticated and polished; their work was seen as unfinished and not ready for prime time

For example, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were consistently rejected when they were peddling their Superman idea to the newspaper syndicates. One syndicate said it was an immature piece of art.

Q: Why did this kind of work become popular?

A: There was an audience that wanted this rougher, more peculiar stuff that wasn't refined by art school and years of experience. And a lot of kids wanted that raw connection with the fantasies of the artists who weren't much older than them.

Most of the guys who created the stuff that lasted were in their late teens or early 20s. They could tap into the action and adventure that kids wanted but couldn't get enough of in the newspaper comic strips.

Q: How were comic books groundbreaking in terms of reaching kids specifically?

A: Newspaper comic strips were sort of like...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue