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Comics is a medium used to express ideas with images, often combined with text or other visual information. It typically takes the form of a sequence of panels of images. Textual devices such as speech balloons, captions, and onomatopoeia can indicate dialogue, narration, sound effects, or other information. There is no consensus amongst theorists and historians on a definition of comics; some emphasize the combination of images and text, some sequentiality or other image relations, and others historical aspects such as mass reproduction or the use of recurring characters. Cartooning and other forms of illustration are the most common image-making means in comics; fumetti is a form that uses photographic images. Common forms include comic strips, editorial and gag cartoons, and comic books. Since the late 20th century, bound volumes such as graphic novels, comic albums, and tankōbon have become increasingly common, while online webcomics have proliferated in the 21st century.

The English term comics is used as a singular noun when it refers to the medium itself (e.g. "Comics is a visual art form."), but becomes plural when referring to works collectively (e.g. "Comics are popular reading material."). (Full article...)

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Louis Riel is a historical biography in comics by Canadian cartoonist Chester Brown, published as a book in 2003 after serialization in 1999–2003. The story deals with Métis rebel leader Louis Riel's antagonistic relationship with the newly established Canadian government. It begins shortly before the 1869 Red River Rebellion, and ends with Riel's 1885 hanging for high treason. The book explores Riel's possible schizophrenia—he believed God had named him Prophet of the New World, destined to lead the Métis people to freedom.

The work is noted for its emotional disengagement, its intentionally flat dialogue, and a minimalist drawing style inspired by that of Harold Gray's comic strip Little Orphan Annie. Unusual for comics of the time, it includes a full scholarly apparatus: a foreword, index, bibliography, and end notes. The lengthy, hand-lettered appendix provides insight into Brown's creative process and biases and highlights where he changed historical facts to create a more engaging story, such as incorporating a conspiracy theory not widely accepted by historians. Brown became interested in the issue of property rights while researching the book, which led to a public change in his politics from anarchism to libertarianism.

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A Midtown Comics store at 45th and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan
Credit: Jim Henderson

Midtown Comics is a New York City comic book retailer with three shops in Manhattan and an e-commerce website. The largest comic book store in the United States, the company opened its first store in the Times Square area in 1997. Its second was opened on Lexington Avenue in 2004, and is known as the Grand Central store for its proximity to Grand Central Terminal.

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A speech balloon

  • ...that speech balloons (example pictured) are used in comic books and strips to allow the characters words and thoughts to be viewed by the reader?

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Jerry Siegel
A couple of months after I published this story, it occurred to me that a Superman as a hero rather than as a villain might make a great comic strip character in the vein of Tarzan, only more super and sensational than that great character. Joe and I drew it up as a comic book.



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