Translation: Alexia Stamatelatou
Reminiscing my childhood, comics represented the innocent side of my years growing up, and saved me from my melancholic days. Since then though, I hadn’t picked up a comic book until I stumbled upon my old collection that I had once obsessively gathered. That made me question why do people still collect them?
Comics or ‘graphic storytelling’ are ‘drawings and images set in a row in order to transfer information or evoke an emotional response in the reader.’ The special characteristic of comics books is that they are small images called vignettes, where they place cloud drawings in ‘speech balloons’ along with small sketches of expressive text) which unravel on the folded sheets of paper.
The genres are separated according to their themes and the style of drawing such as ‘Comic Strip’ ‘Comic Book’ ‘Bande Dessinee’ (which are the comics is Belgium and France) ‘Manga’ (the Japanese comics) Web comic and PSIDIAKA COMICS.
Aside from the newest inclusion of them as works of art, it’s worth mentioning the shortness of their historical background. Communication, graphics, and the ANAGNWSH resulted in the first pan-human needs (aside from the biological needs) of the first societies. The walls or the surfaces of any space that people found to use for cover, soon were filled in sketches and inscriptions of pre historic content. And so, the need for expression began. With a few words and designs, the human need for capturing everyday life defined the historical.
The art of narration through imagery of information, started in the caves of the pre historic days, with the Egyptian hieroglyphics, and then continued with the Ancient Greek depictions (which can be seen at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.) Then there was the Roman, and Mayan drawings, and most recently we think of the Christian traditions of iconographies which represent the holy saints.
For the Roman inscriptions of columns and arches, it’s worth referring to Trajan’s Column in Rome (110-113 B.C) which is made up fully of small etchings of Trajan’s achievements and experiences, scene by scene.
With the change of times, as such with all types of art, comics have their own categorization and criteria that are based on the style, and geographic location of where they were made. Hence we have the American School, the European school and the Asian School. Below you can find the most successful comics per location.
- American School: Golden Era 1930-1955/Silver Era 1956-1969/Bronze Era 1970-1983/Modern Era 1984-today
- European School: Frenchbelgium School/New European School
- Asia: Manga
The styles of comics developed in the 19th Century, by both Rodolphe Töpffer in Europe in 1837 and in America by Richard F. Outcault in 1895. In the 20th century a small Belgian comic ‘Tintin’, soon became a European sensation by 1940, interesting adults and children alike. Comics were soon distributed in newspapers, with the first modern superhero ‘Tarzan’ in 1929, Mickey Mouse 1930, and then American heroes in ‘DC Comics’ 1934, and ‘Marvel Comics’ 1939. In France the major comic successes were ‘Asterix’ along with ‘Mafalda’, ‘Iznogoud’ and ‘Lucky Luke.’
The mass American wave of comics was clear after the Second World War, in the 1960s, which was seen as the decade of freedom and open thinking, social movements and influences the most important human rights. With this cultural shift, Greece also stepped into the comic scene. Here we can mention the first Greek comics such as ‘Comic – Zein’ ‘Fonax from the graduates of the School of Art, and ‘Splatch.’
Naturally, a lot of the large comics were soon translated for the market, such as ‘Mickey Mouse’, ‘Asterix’ ‘Captain America’ and many others who have become staple comics across the world. In 1984 ‘Arkas’ stepped into our lives, who is now the most successful Greek satire comic artist.
These days we have the international festival Comic-Con, which is also organised in Athens (this year 20-22 April) along with there being six bookshops exclusively for this art form – ‘Comic-Con, Jemma Books & Comics, Solaris, Comicstrip Bookstore, Tilt comics, Relax your soul comic shop. Additionally there are various museums which are definitely worth adding to your bucket list: The Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels, the ‘London Cartoon Museum’ and the ‘Comic and Animation Museum’ in China.
All in all, this has given me a new found respect for my collection that I started once upon a time, along with understanding why people these days spend so much time creating, collecting or selling this type of art. Ultimately comics are a powerful form of literature that express social messages through beautiful imagery.