When we think about the history of comic books, where do we start? A comic strip, in it's "purest form", is a series of individual drawings that when placed together, tell a story. The concept of utilizing a series of drawings to tell a story has existed for years…dating as far back as the ancient Egyptians (think Hieroglyphics). America took this concept to a whole new level introducing such literary devices as the "word balloon" to indicate speech, which have come to identify the modern comic strip.
American comic strips were commonly humorous in the early years, but in the early 1930's they started to fork into the area of adventure stories. Tarzan and Buck Rogers were some of the earliest to appear on the scene. Many have stated that the advent of the "Great Depression" hastened in the need for a savior for the troubles of the common man, and the modern "Super Hero" was born. Ever heard of Superman? You get the point…
By the mid-60's the history of comic books took a new twist as a new type of "Super Hero" appeared on the scene. This new hero usually had a unique "Super Power", but was also fitted with the frailties of being human as well. Spiderman, of Marvel Comics fame, was the first. He could swing from a web, cling to buildings, and utilize "Spider Sense", but could not get the "girl" for a date on Friday night.
By the mid-90's many people were utilizing a new means of communication, called the "Internet". With the introduction of this new form of communication, it was only a matter of time before comics would find their way here as well. Webcomics are, very simply, comics that have been published on a website. Today there are literally thousands available online. Some comics have even stopped publishing a "printed version", in favor of a wholly internet distribution model.
Comics are a unique medium. You can convey your message not only through written words, but also through visual images. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words…so how valuable is a comic book, with a series of images plastered throughout the issue? While words require that the reader utilize their own mind to conjure up the images, a comic provides you with the opportunity to convey the exact look, expression, feel, or environment that you intend. Just how valuable is that?
The history of comic books, in terms of education, has shown the medium take the road from the perceived "bad to good". In the early years of the comic, it was thought that comics would prevent children from reading more sophisticated and educationally "stimulating" books. As the modern comic has evolved, so too has the view on how this medium might be used to educate. In this age of educational video games and DVD's, comics have found their rightful place as a medium that can be used to teach, educate, and entertain.