Before there was such a craze for video games, there was a hobby for the kids and teens that liked alternative entertainment. Comic books have been around since the early 20th century, with the superheroes dominating the market a couple of decades later. Now, comic books and the associated artwork are collected by enthusiasts and those who make a living from trading them.
Comic books were very strong in Western Europe, the US, and Japan. To this day, people from all over the world appreciate artists from these countries. In Europe, one of the biggest titles was Tintin, who came to be in 1929. The Mickey Mouse comic followed suit. In Europe, comic book writers and artists didn’t focus so much on superheroes, as was the case with the US. Instead, they combined adventure and humor. The market focus shifted slightly in the 50s and 60s, with the Italian comics Capitan Miki, Il Grande Blek, and Comandante Mark. These comics often portrayed heroes in America in the olden days, sometimes picturing the American fight for independence, and other times, Wild West stories.
The US created heroes that are still discussed and worshipped around the world. One of the first was the Man of Steel himself, Superman, as early as 1939, published by DC Comics. At the same time, Marvel Comics was founded, and these two giants will dominate the superhero market, as well as the term “superhero”, until the end of time, it seems.
Japanese manga still has a cult following. However, one could argue that it is older in origin than its European and American counterparts. In the 12th century, the predecessor of the manga was Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga, a four-panel scroll. Manga officially came to be in 1811. People all over the world are enticed by the culture surrounding manga and are sometimes referred to as “otaku”, originally a derogatory term for a nerd. These days, the word used to describe a person obsessed with Japanese culture and manga one can find online as an insult is “weeb”. Akihabara Prefecture in Japan is particularly famous for its video game and manga culture.
The official comic book stories branched out in other mediums, including books, video games, and movies. The modern times also saw the rise of a new kind of comics – webcomics, or comics published almost exclusively on the web. The fans have learned to appreciate the old and new art and autographs from famous artists are treasured even more than the artwork itself sometimes.
Once, comic books were viewed by the general public as a waste of time and anti-social behavior, much like some parts of the media portray video games. Nowadays, the old art, the new art, the autographs, and memorabilia are carefully kept, collected, and traded by hobbyists, fans, and people who see a business opportunity.
Not only that, but DC and Marvel heroes now have more attention than ever, due to the portrayal of their most famous characters on TV and in the movies. Fans eagerly await the newest titles and projects, while emitting excitable high-pitch sounds every time they learn their idol, in the form of a writer or artist, is working on a new project. Comics have evolved from the hobby to a culture with a global impact.