Timeless humor in comic books

By Caryl Clem:

Sundays were steeped in family traditions, first religious activity, then enjoying a  labor of love feast with the family. My main source of Sunday entertainment was the newspaper’s “funnies “section.  Forty five years later after the New York Evening Journal in 1912 began issuing a full page funny portion boosting sales by the thousands; the technique still “hooked” readers.

Newspapers were the impetus for the creation of the “comic book”. Classic comical figures such as “Popeye”, “Little Orphan Annie”, “Blondie and Dagwood”, “Mutt and Jeff” were presented in cartoons in panel series on a weekly basis.  A publication, The Comic Monthly, reprinted the popular newspaper series in book form with the last page announcing this was a “comic book”. The first original comic book New Fun work appeared in 1935. The ability to create new characters for fans to love increased the thriving market. September 25 is National Comic Book Day.

Heroes you could count on surfaced as the country battled the consequences of the Great Depression.  King Features started Flash Gordon in 1934 introducing a science fiction super hero intergalactic theme.  A Detective Series  #1  composed by Jerry Spiegel Joe Shuster  introducing the forerunner to Superman, Slam Bradley in 1937.  Another figure with super human powers, Batman arrived to fight crime in Detective Series #27 on March 30, 1939. “Dick Tracy” was based on a Chicago policeman fighting gangsters out maneuvering criminals with gadgets invented by “Brilliant”.  Dick’s Radio Wrist Watch has been claimed to be the inspiration for the Apple Smart Watch.  During the 1940’s, surviving World War II introduced another hero, Captain America.   

 The fans clamoring for more laughter and suspense almost lost their comic book “fix”. An author warned the public about the absolute harm reading about fascist ideals, abnormal sexual behavior and fascination with corruption in Seduction of the Innocent by Dr. Wertham.  Congress asked him to testify before a committee concerned about Juvenile Delinquency. Immediately the Comics Code Authority was formed to assure parents that the comic book content was safe. The codes promised good would triumph over evil, females were to be drawn realistically, and no vampires or ghouls. 

Charles Schultz in 1950 featured the lighthearted “Peanuts” with Charlie Brown and Snoopy, “The Flintstones’” stumbled their way into your heart, and heroes resurfaced to save our world. Comic Book characters surged back to life starring in television and movie features.  Recent favorites include   X-Men, Immortal Hulk, Avengers, Daredevil and Doctor Doom.  In 2019 Captain Marvel, Avengers, Endgame, Far From Home, Dark Phoenix, Shazami, and Joker proved comics universal ageless appeal.  If you want to unwind, pick up a comic book or enjoy one of its current expansions.  

 If you are interested in comic history in more detail, check out the following You Tube information.