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The 1900's
Comic Books Come of Age



Comic Books Come of Age
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.92

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    Outcault, dialogue, breakthrough, best, popularity, successful, merchandise, description, advantage, lasted, comic, editor, member, produce, connection, rage
     content words:    Obadiah Oldbuck, Rudophe Topffer, Palmer Cox, Brownies Ride, Their Book, New York World, Richard F., York World, New York City, Yellow Kid


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Comic Books Come of Age
By Jane Runyon
  

1     Comic books have been around for a long time. The earliest illustrated book resembling a comic book was published in 1837. The name of this book was The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck. This first book of comic pictures was put together by a man named Rudophe Topffer in Switzerland. He had been drawing single panel comic pictures since 1827. At this time in history, Topffer's books were known as picture stories. He drew a single picture and then wrote a description of what was happening in the picture below it. Topffer created a total of seven such picture books. Copies of his stories reached America in 1846.
 
2     Other cartoon creators followed Topffer's lead. A children's magazine became popular in America during the 1880s. It was called St. Nicholas. Palmer Cox created an illustrated feature for this magazine called "The Brownies." The first story, called "The Brownies Ride", appeared in the magazine in 1883. Children loved this feature. Publishers of the magazine decided to take advantage of the Brownies' popularity. They manufactured a line of Brownie merchandise that could be purchased by the readers. In 1887, several of the Brownie stories were published together as a book. It was called The Brownies: Their Book. Descriptions and dialogue for these stories were written to the side of the picture. It was a book, and it did have comics in it. But it wasn't really considered to be a comic book.
 
3     Other magazines of the time began to use picture stories. They weren't always designed for children. Magazines such as Puck, Judge, Life, Truth, and Harper's took advantage of the popular story form. Newspapers wanted to run comics in their daily editions. Unfortunately, all the best known illustrators had already signed up with the magazines. Luckily, a Sunday editor for the New York World, America's largest newspaper at the time, and a member of the Puck magazine staff, found an answer. He knew Richard F. Outcault. His first newspaper cartoon appeared in the New York World on June 2, 1894. This comic picture featured a group of children in New York City. One of the characters in this cartoon would later become a very popular comic character called The Yellow Kid. Outcault also introduced the idea of the comic balloon. Now words that were spoken by the characters appeared in balloon shapes above their heads. In 1897, a book of comic pictures called The Yellow Kid in McFadden's Flats was published. It was 196 pages long and cost a whopping 50 cents. All of the pictures were black and white.

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The 1900's
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