A brief history of comic illustration

Humankind has always been engaged in visual storytelling. Naturally, visual storytelling seems to be a synonym for animated films. In fact, an animation is its subcategory. Illustration is too. And now when the basic terms are known, let’s relate two genres of storytelling.


Epoch by Villiam


When the series of illustrated images are put into motion –  animated film is born. However, in the animated films, the continuity of the originally static images withholds the viewer from the opportunity to inspect single drawings. Also sound adds to the downside of animated films by leaving viewer’s imagination behind. The comic illustration does not restrict the viewer. It stokes the flames of imagination. The limitations of animated films are diminished when reading comic illustration since the reader inwardly creates the character’s voices or chooses own reading/inspecting pace.


Girl seeing music by Michelle


The earliest evidence of visual storytelling dates back to the Prehistorical ages. Cave paintings. Despite the theories asserting that the cave paintings were made for shamanistic purposes, it is undeniable that they provided the most comprehensible way of communication. The great grand grandmothers of comic illustration then continued to evolve during Middle ages in a form of illuminated manuscripts. However, its greatest revival and subsequent boom marked the nineteenth century. Constant political issues and rising industrial age ensured that the illustrators (back then called cartoonists) had enough topics for their visual expression, mainly in newspapers.


Woman cooking dinner by Sophie


Gradually, comics had begun gaining so-called lowbrow reputation. The reason was simply its breakthrough popularity among masses. Firstly Japanese manga art, then the famous Adventures of Tintin, and finally the age of superheroes had accelerated the expansion of comics.


Lola, a young girl by Luna Kirsche


Unfortunately, in the second half of 20th century the stigmatisation of comics, as being acclaimed for illiterate and children, had increased. However, not everything that is considered to be comic illustration was being swept away by public opinion. In magazines and newspapers, the illustrations were attached to the body of text to provide a witty or satirical reflection of the discussed matter.


Unfit by Michelle


Despite comics’ fading popularity, graphic novels began gaining greater attention. Nowadays, graphic novels are illustrated by the best illustrator and sold in bookstores all over the world. So why is comic illustration so captivating? Illustration reflects what cannot be said by the words. All literary terms used in the accompanied body of text  – tone, satire, metaphor or simile can be embodied into one single image, processed by the brain, and produce a laugh, smirk or frown on viewer’s face.



Things not okay to eat in the cinema by Pom Lette


If you like, you can have your story told by comic illustrations, just like our artist Villiam created comics for Forbes magazine. Get inspired and create visuals that matters easily on Minty.


Amazon comics for Forbes by Viliam