Comic book art is illustrations done in sequential order to tell a story. The earliest example of sequential art can be seen in the Paleolithic cave paintings in Lascaux, France. The cave paintings are of various large animals and possibly tell the story of successful hunts by tribes. The Greeks told stories through images they painted onto vases. In medieval times, narratives could be viewed in the illustrations on tapestries.
Japanese picture books in the 1700s, known as kibyoshi, were an early form of comic books. These were inexpensive, mass-produced books with artwork that depicted satirical views of the culture and society at the time. In the 1800s, European artists drew caricatures to exaggerate or simplify the characteristics of their subjects. Many consider Swiss artist Rodolphe Topffer as the father of modern comic art. In the 1820s, Topffer created a new type of visual art that featured picture stories, usually of men dealing with humorous situations. He also gave movement to his comic art by spelling out sounds in the word bubbles. His graphic novels were well received and translated into several languages over the years, including English in 1846, for American readers.
Comic books gained popularity in the United States in the 1930s. Originally they were a compilation of comic strips that had been published in newspapers. The first American comic book was Famous Funnies, published in 1933. The history of comic book art is divided into ages: Golden Age (1938-1950), Silver Age (1956-1970), Bronze Age (1970-1985), and Modern Age (1985-Present). It should be noted that writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Schuster kicked off the Golden Age of comic art with their creation of Superman, which they sold to Detective Comics (later known as DC Comics). Superman first appeared in Action Comics # 1 (June 1938), and the following year, Batman debuted in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939), defining the American super-hero comic book.
Since the 1960s, the major publishers of comic books have been Marvel and Detective Comics. Among the many famous comic book artists are Will Eisner, who created the series called “The Spirit” in 1940; Jack Kirby, who created or co-created Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Thor, The Avengers, Darkseid, Mister Miracle, The Demon, and Destroyer Duck; and Brian Bolland, a British artist who worked with writer Alan Moore on the highly influential DC Comics book Batman: The Killing Joke, published in 1988.