Although the history of comics can be traced back to 18th century Japan, it was the first modern comic book – Famous Funnies – which was published in the USA in 1933 that was the pioneer for the modern-day comic book strip. The modern-day comic book has of course gone on to shape a great number of fields within modern day human society and although many of these things are obvious some are less so.
Although the most famous comic book strips remain Marvel and Capcom – at least in the USA – almost every country in the world has a comic book which is held dearly to the population. The UK has the Beano, Italy the Bonelli adventure comics and Spain has two major comic book publishing houses – Bruguera and Valenciana.
France is also a major comic book market. Franco-Belgian comics represent 40% of the entire comic book market. Franco-Belgian comic tend to be politically motivated. The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo made headline news in 2015 after a terrorist attack occurred at its headquarters. Describing itself as atheist, the magazine uses cartoons and comic strips in order to mock religious groups as local and world news unfolds. The attack at Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters saw 12 people murdered by Islamic extremists.
Currently the largest comic book market can be found in Japan. The manga market in Japan is worth billions of dollars whilst the popularity of manga style comic books is increasing in western countries as well.
Advancements in technology have meant that comic books themselves have slowly gone out of fashion and have very limited sales outside spreads on the backs of newspapers. Although as aforementioned, manga is extremely popular in Japan and politically motivated cartoons can be found in many news publications. With that being said, the influence of comic books within the world can easily be felt and seen.
Influencer of Films, Gaming and Television
The golden age of comic books in the 1930s paved the way for many of the action films that we see at cinemas and on television screens today. The easy to follow but also exciting narrative that comes from comic books has become the inspiration for many mainstream films – think films like Die Hard.
The good guy and bad guy narratives are at the very heart of all comic books and it is a narrative that is truly apparent in every day human life today. The good guy/bad guy narrative in comic books is a straightforward one: good guy faces bad guy, good guy loses, good guy goes through a dramatic change and becomes victorious after a final confrontation with the bad guy. As previously mentioned, films are littered with this good guy/bad guy narrative.
Even journalists and news publications use this narrative when writing, formulating and telling stories – it is a narrative that hooks human brains.
Characters and storylines that were first created for comic books have now become global movie sensations. Marvel films as well as Capcom movies have grossed billions of dollars at box office and continue to be amongst the most popular movies in the world.
Comic books also inspired and paved the way for television cartoons. Television channels such as Cartoon Network may never have seen the light of day without comic books. Television cartoons are essentially an evolution of comic books and then Hollywood blockbusters such as Guardians of the Galaxy, the Iron Man series and Captain America: Civil War are the evolutions of television cartoons.
Of course, there are a variety of video games based on classic comic books. Video Games begun incorporating stories and ideas from comic books in the 1990s and early 2000s. Numerous video games have been based on comic books. The late Stan Lee was the pioneer of the huge increase in popularity of the comic book industry in the USA. Under his directorship, Marvel Comics dominated the comic book industry and helped inspire the publics love for comic books in America and the western world. Capcom is another very famous influencer in the comic book industry.
The Marvel inspired action-adventure game Spider-Man was released in 2018 and is regarded as one of the best and most popular games of the year. The game allows players to roam around New York city, swinging from building to building whilst scaling the tallest skyscrapers and beating up bad guys.
“The story in the game is fantastic, and the cutscenes are full of detail – at times it feels like a marvel movie,” states Mike Fitzgerald, the Chief Architect at Spiderman’s developers – Insomniac.
Spider-Man became the fastest selling super-hero game of all time in the USA and according to sales projections, Spider-Man’s release month sales were almost 40% higher than the combined release month sales of all previous Spider-Man games released since 1995. In the UK, Spider-Man became the fastest selling game of 2018. To date, over 10 million physical and digital units of Spider-Man have been sold worldwide whilst a variety of gaming publications named Spider-Man as their ‘Game of the Year.’ USA Today estimated that the game made more money during its first three days of release ($198 million) than 2017 Hollywood blockbuster film Spider-Man: Homecoming did on its opening weekend at box office ($117 million).
The gaming industry is certainly making good use of the popularity of comic book related universes and characters.
“Our Jack Hammer Slot game was directly inspired from the world of comic books and it is one of our most popular games,” said Lucy from online casino operator PlayFrank.
“The influence of old-style comic books is still to be seen in the gaming industry for sure. From a visual perspective, old style comic book strips remain just as bold, modern and beautiful as they were back when they were in their hay-day.
“I think this is one of the reasons why Jack hammer is so popular – because players love the aesthetics of the game. “
Jack Hammer Slot is a comic book inspired casino game which is regularly ranked as one of the best online slots available. The games colourful, comic book theme and its background story of the hero Jack Hammer vs the Evil Dr. Wuten has seen it become one of the most popular casino games on the market currently.
Comic book themed games, films and television series have become cash cows for a variety of industries. Comic book themed elements are popular, so be prepared for lots more comic book related themes being introduced into your favourite industries in the future. Put simply, without the first comic book strips of the early 30s, some of the fictional universes that we now see on our television screens and on our game’s consoles would never have existed.
Have you noticed anything in the world that has been directly or indirectly inspired by comic books? Let us know in the comments!