All Things Printed & Recorded: Bam! Pow! The Heroic Rise of Comic Books

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year in our HPB calendar, we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we buy and sell in our stores. For September, we’re getting our hands dirty with a look at the history of comic books, graphic novels and manga.

Two Comic Books

1933  Famous Funnies: A Carnival of Comics, the first modern American comic book, is published.
1938  The superhero archetype is born with the debut of Superman in Action Comics #1.
1964  The first underground comic, Frank Stack’s The Adventures of Jesus, debuts.
1992  Art Spiegelman’s Maus becomes the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize.


  • The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck (1837) featured art in sequential panels and corresponding text below, making it a precursor to the modern comic book.
  • The Comics Code Authority was formed in 1954 in response to public concern over graphic content in comics. Titles from major publishers bore the CCA seal until the early 2000s.
  • Japanese comics known as manga exploded in popularity after the Second World War.

Want to dive deeper? Check out these great products!

book The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabo
book The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay by Thierry Smolderen
book The Great Comic Book Heroes by Jules Feiffer
book Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America, Bradford W. Wright
book The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History by Hope Nicholson
book A History of Underground Comics by Mark James Estren
book Graphic Novels: Everything You Need to Know by Paul Gravett
book Comics and Sequential Art by Will Eisner
book Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics by Paul Gravett
book Manga! Manga!: The World of Japanese Comics by Frederik L. Schodt
slate_film-512 American Splendor
slate_film-512 Crumb
slate_film-512 Comic Book Confidential
music-note-21 Comic Book Heroes, Rick Springfield