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The History of Comic Books

Comic books got their start as publications of cartoon re-prints, which later gave way to books filled with original cartoon artwork. The Platinum Age of comic books began with the publication of the first comic book, The Yellow Kid in McFadden’s Flats, in 1897. The first comic book that contained all original material came out in February 1935; it was called New Fun #1. The Golden Age of comic books began in 1938 with the release of Superman in Action Comics #1. (Batman premiered in Detective Comics #27 soon after.) Comics peaked in popularity from 1938 through the mid-1940s, and many superheroes that are still popular today were introduced during the Golden Age period, including the Human Torch, Angel, Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner, Captain Marvel, Flash, Green Lantern, Captain America, and Wonder Woman. After the war, superhero comic book sales plummeted but began to recover after new regulations forced the cancellation of many other publications in the mid-1950s. In the 1970s, the regulation codes were relaxed, and horror comics gained popularity. More socially conscious stories also debuted during this time. Dark and pessimistic stories reigned supreme in the mid-1980s and remained popular until 1996, when a sales slump bankrupted Marvel Comics. However, 1996 also marked the beginning of the modern age of comics, which has included a more optimistic tone, the introduction of digital comics, a comeback by Marvel, and many successful superhero movies.

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