English Society’s Introduction To Comics and Sequential Art

Kenneth Woods

ROLES: As comics become more commercialized, and it become common to print at least an issue a month, a division of labor was required. While there are certainly people who are the sole visionary who work on products, all comics have people who act in the following roles.

  • Writer-the person who comes up with the story. It is common to use an augmented version of the screenplay format. Depending on the writer, individual panels are described or just the dialogue and action.
  • Penciler- traditionally the person who makes the original artwork, usually in the form of line drawings with minimal shading. In modern times, with the art being digital, the penciler is the first one to draw the comic but not to do the touchup work
  • Inker-goes back over the pencilers work and defines the lines. With analogue pictures, usually only the ink would go to print, so the inkers are much more than just tracers.
  • Colorist- the one who adds color to the images
  • Letterer-the person who writes the text into the panels, not to be confused with the writer. Usually the final piece to come together. Using different lettering styles, they express different characteristics and emphasize certain areas of text
  • Cover artist: usually an artist separate from those working on the interior, the one who creates the cover of the comic
  • Editor- the creative head of a project. Usually has the final say of what makes it to print
  • Executives-the business people. They usually handle distribution, legal concerns and other logistics


  • About 30,000 BCE-Chauvet Cave Paintings in Southern France were made. They are the first recorded instance of art that still survives. Many historians think the sequences of images were used to simulate motion and that people used them as a method of storytelling
  • .
  • About 12,000 BCE Epic of Gilgamesh-the first instance of written story written in Sumer. Arguably, a super heroic figure who fights monsters, had a sidekick (Enkidu) and embarked on a quest for immortality. The tablets were usually accompanied by statues of Gilgamesh and other figures from the tale.
  • thing 2
  • 1933 Famous Funnies USA: largely considered the first modern comic. It started the “golden age” of comics, when DC and many others started
  • 1954-The Start of the Silver Age. The Seduction of Youth by Fredrick Werthman M.D is published, which links the reading of comics by youth to criminal behavior. Many consider his data faulty, as he only established a correlation not a causation. It incited mass protests, especially among parents, and book burnings. In response, the industry created the comic code, which ensured parents that there would be nothing unsavory in the comics. The Comic Code likely saved mainstream comics as a commercial enterprise, but also greatly stinted creativity and freedom speech. Underground comics (which would or could not get the comic code) began to become more popular, especially among older readers and the rising counterculture.
  • thing 5
  • 1961-Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and the “bullpen” launch Marvel Comics. Marvel’s genius was the ability era new sciences (such as genetics), racism and other issues of the day while still being entertaining and not banned by the Comic Code.
  • thing 7
  • 1985- Will Eisner, veteran of the comic and animation industry writes Comics and Sequential Art, the first piece of academic writing about to be taken seriously by mainstream academia. It began the still ongoing process of comics being taken seriously as a part of academic work.
  • thing 8
  • 1993- DC launches it’s Vertigo Imprint to create more mature work. Titles such as V for Vendetta are retroactively added, signaling that DC had wanted to make the move for a while but thought it wasn’t financially viable. Notable authors of the DC imprint include Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore.
  • thing 9
  • 2002-Spiderman film is released. Directed by Sam Raimi, and starring SAG award nominated Tobey Maguire, it is the first comic book movie to be taken seriously by critics, and one of the first to integrate CGI with practical effects
  • thing 10
  • 2005- Batman Begins is released, largely as an answer to Spider-Man. Directed by Christopher Nolan, Batman Begins solidified the idea of the gritty reboot and helped the mainstream audience realize the philosophical and literary weight of classic characters such as Batman
  • 2012: Avengers is released to the biggest box office opening of all time, establishing comic movies as a commercial powerhouse. Artistically significant, because it marked the integration of the Marvel Cinematic Universe


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