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The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay

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In "The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay," Thierry Smolderen presents a cultural landscape whose narrative differs in many ways from those presented by other historians of the comic strip. Rather than beginning his inquiry with the popularly accepted "sequential art" definition of the comic strip, Smolderen instead wishes to engage with the historica In "The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay," Thierry Smolderen presents a cultural landscape whose narrative differs in many ways from those presented by other historians of the comic strip. Rather than beginning his inquiry with the popularly accepted "sequential art" definition of the comic strip, Smolderen instead wishes to engage with the historical dimensions that inform that definition. His goal is to understand the processes that led to the twentieth-century comic strip, the highly recognizable species of picture stories that he sees crystallizing around 1900 in the United States. Featuring close readings of the picture stories, caricatures, and humoristic illustrations of William Hogarth, Rodolphe Topffer, Gustave Dore, and their many contemporaries, Smolderen establishes how these artists were immersed in a very old visual culture in which images--satirical images in particular--were deciphered in a way that was often described as hieroglyphical. Across eight chapters, he acutely points out how the effect of the printing press and the mass advent of audiovisual technologies (photography, audio recording, and cinema) at the end of the nineteenth century led to a new twentieth-century visual culture. In tracing this evolution, Smolderen distinguishes himself from other comics historians by following a methodology that explains the present state of the form of comics on the basis of its history, rather than presenting the history of the form on the basis of its present state. This study remaps the history of this influential art form.


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In "The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay," Thierry Smolderen presents a cultural landscape whose narrative differs in many ways from those presented by other historians of the comic strip. Rather than beginning his inquiry with the popularly accepted "sequential art" definition of the comic strip, Smolderen instead wishes to engage with the historica In "The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay," Thierry Smolderen presents a cultural landscape whose narrative differs in many ways from those presented by other historians of the comic strip. Rather than beginning his inquiry with the popularly accepted "sequential art" definition of the comic strip, Smolderen instead wishes to engage with the historical dimensions that inform that definition. His goal is to understand the processes that led to the twentieth-century comic strip, the highly recognizable species of picture stories that he sees crystallizing around 1900 in the United States. Featuring close readings of the picture stories, caricatures, and humoristic illustrations of William Hogarth, Rodolphe Topffer, Gustave Dore, and their many contemporaries, Smolderen establishes how these artists were immersed in a very old visual culture in which images--satirical images in particular--were deciphered in a way that was often described as hieroglyphical. Across eight chapters, he acutely points out how the effect of the printing press and the mass advent of audiovisual technologies (photography, audio recording, and cinema) at the end of the nineteenth century led to a new twentieth-century visual culture. In tracing this evolution, Smolderen distinguishes himself from other comics historians by following a methodology that explains the present state of the form of comics on the basis of its history, rather than presenting the history of the form on the basis of its present state. This study remaps the history of this influential art form.

48 review for The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    ⇝ 4.5 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    This excellent history of the form also offers thoughtful theoretical approaches to the form. Concepts like polygraphic art, readable images and arabesque are useful additions to the critical vocabulary of comics scholarship.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    PN 6710 .S613 2014 COCC Had for a couple months but returned. Hope to get to someday.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Trey Allison

  5. 4 out of 5

    Evangelos

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Hasulo

  7. 4 out of 5

    Aude Bruneau

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    Guy Thomas

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erica

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nezka

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nick

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cayo Orlando Hern

  13. 5 out of 5

    Conor Stechschulte

  14. 4 out of 5

    Josh

  15. 5 out of 5

    Robert Boyd

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bob

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ash Connell-Gonzalez

  18. 4 out of 5

    Robert Beerbohm

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kay

  20. 5 out of 5

    Raisu

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chuchuchu

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nicoll Hellen

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tom Shapira

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brad

  25. 4 out of 5

    Fumettologic

  26. 4 out of 5

    Thierry

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Derek Royal

  29. 4 out of 5

    Scott

  30. 4 out of 5

    Angelo

  31. 5 out of 5

    Brent

  32. 4 out of 5

    Anna

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    Adan

  34. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

  35. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  36. 4 out of 5

    Lionel

  37. 4 out of 5

    cognitive dissident

  38. 5 out of 5

    Ana

  39. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Robertson

  40. 4 out of 5

    Arumfaerie

  41. 5 out of 5

    Hugh Armitage

  42. 4 out of 5

    london

  43. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Rubio

  44. 5 out of 5

    Rob

  45. 5 out of 5

    Kris Jones

  46. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  47. 4 out of 5

    Ricardo Baptista

  48. 4 out of 5

    Dan Johnson

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