also many theorists who disagree with the idea of naming a date or a place of birth. Towards the end of 19th century, American newspapers began to publish comic supplements in color. On October 26, 1896, the New York Journal published what appears to be the first cartoon –a sequence of drawings narrating a gag, while the dialogue was developed using balloons. It was The Yellow Kid and His New Phonograph, by Richard Fenton Outcault. Of course, no one, not even the author, could have known how crucial this invention would be. A new narrative form had been created that, in the following years, would be developed by other cartoonists such as Rudolph Dirks and Fred Opper. Nevertheless, the masters of the new century of comics were Winsor McCay (creator of the now mythical Little Nemo in Slumberland, a wonderful comic strip depicting a kid’s psychedelic dreams), George Herriman (with his surreal Krazy Kat) and George McManus (with his exhilarating strips about the life of nouveau riches in Bringing Up Father). Soon enough, American newspapers began to include daily sections of comic strips, while full-page color supplements were often issued on Sundays and distributed by the syndicates, which operated as agencies. Supply was expanded to include adventure comics, which included fantastic stories like Flash Gordon, by Alex Raymond, a classic that is still as astonishing as ever with its skillful drawings and compositions, and its thrilling plot. No less noteworthy are Harold Foster’s saga Prince Valiant and Milton Cannif’s Terry and the Pirates. Born in the pages of the American press –still a fertile soil for comics–cartoons reached editorial independence with the emergence of publications exclusively devoted to the genre and known in the US as comic books. Curiously, comic magazines had their origin in advertising in the early 30s. They were created by Maxwell Charles Gaines, who commissioned the edition of a series of cartoon publications for such companies as Procter & Gamble, which distributed the magazines among their clients. Given their success, Gaines thought the idea could function just as well in the market at low prices: 32 pages full of fun cartoons available at newspaper stands for only 10 cents. And it worked. Why? According to historian Jean-Paul Jennequin, the publication system of comics put readers in a predicament when their favorite comic strip didn’t appear in their accustomed newspaper; in that case, the readers had two options: either buy another newspaper or do without all that amusement.4 Comic books became popular at the end of the 30s when they began to include superheroes like Superman, Batman and Spiderman. The superhero genre was a ground-breaking milestone. Eventually, this kind of publication became standardized in all senses: issued monthly, 32 pages, the cover made of a type of paper that is just a little thicker than the internal pages and a size of 17cm x 26 cm. Currently, Frank Miller complains that this format puts both the cartoonists’ creativity and the editorial industry itself into a straitjacket. “The booklet format stinks. Periodical issuing of comics doesn’t work anymore. It’s not only bad for business but also for the artistic side. People have to make things really dense so that it is worth spending $2.50 on a comic; back when they cost 10 cents it made sense. Now they cost more than 2 bucks and there’s only 20 pages of story and there must be (the draughtsman must include) nine frames on every page.”5
JIRO TANIGUCHI My Father’s Almanac, 2001. Planeta DeAgostini Comics.
HAROLD FOSTER Prince Valiant, 2005. Editorial Planeta DeAgostini Comics.
DOSSIER · ARTECONTEXTO · 13
Dossier: COMIC WORLD / MUNDO CÓMIC 2006