From the earliest cave paintings to Egyptian hieroglyphics to Michelangelo’s The Creation of Man on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, art has told stories in narrative form. Swiss writer Rodolphe Töpffer created the first narrative tabloid in 1833, Histoire de M. Jabot, by combining pictures and text in a historical tale.
But it was the popularity of editorial cartoons throughout the 1800s that primarily inspired American comic strips, which in turn led to the popularity of comic books. In 1895 Richard Outcault created Hogan’s Alley for Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper, New York World. Other popular strips followed.
In 1933 entrepreneur Maxwell Gaines convinced Eastern Color Printing to reprint some in a size and format that would create the modern comic book. Gaines put Famous Funnies on sale for ten cents each, giving birth to an industry that would, in just five years, generate Superman in Action Comics #1, followed by soon-to-be classics, such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Spider-Man, and a galaxy of others.