The History of Graphic Novels

Timeline created by Marc Arkley
  • "Poor Richard's Almanac" by Benjamin Franklin

    "Poor Richard's Almanac" by Benjamin Franklin
    The first ever example of cartoon publication.
  • "The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck" by Rodolphe Toffer

    "The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck" by Rodolphe Toffer
    The first Graphic Novel, which appeared in a weekly humour magazine called "Brother Johnathon"
  • "Journey of the Gold Diggins by Jeremiah Saddlebags" by Alexander and Donald F. Read

    "Journey of the Gold Diggins by Jeremiah Saddlebags" by Alexander and Donald F. Read
    Inspired by "The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck"
  • The creation of Pulp Magazine Novels

    The creation of Pulp Magazine Novels
    Pulp Magazine Novels were adventure stories aimed at male readers with topics such as War, Westerns and Science-Fiction.
  • "Passionate Journey" by Frans Masereel.

    "Passionate Journey" by Frans Masereel.
    The longest and best-selling wordless novel by Frans Masereel.
  • "God's Plan" by Lynd Ward

    "God's Plan" by Lynd Ward
  • "He's Done Her Wrong" by Milt Gross

    "He's Done Her Wrong" by Milt Gross
  • "Tintin in the Land of Soviets" by Herge

    "Tintin in the Land of Soviets" by Herge
    A major success that helped album-style graphic novels become popular in other counties.
  • "Une Semaine de Bonté" by Milt Gross

    A novel composed of Max Ernst’s collage
  • "Action Comics #1" by DC Comics

    "Action Comics #1" by DC Comics
    In 1937, graphic novels exploded and paved the way for the Golden Age with a vast array of costumed heroes, detectives and cowboys.
  • Long Comic Books started to be described as "Novels"

  • "All Flash" by DC Comic

    "All Flash" by DC Comic
    A long Comic Book described as having novel-length content and a full-length four-chapter novel.
  • “Life? or Theatre?” by Charlotte Salomon

    “Life? or Theatre?” by Charlotte Salomon
  • “Citizen 13360” by Mine Okubo

    “Citizen 13360” by Mine Okubo
    An illustrated, novel length retelling of Japanese internment during World War II.
  • "It Rhymes with Lust" by Arnold and Matt Baker

    "It Rhymes with Lust" by Arnold and Matt Baker
    The first popular printed graphic novel and an attempt to crossover comic books into paperback formats.
  • “The Case of the Winking Buddha" by Manning Lee Stokes

    “The Case of the Winking Buddha" by Manning Lee Stokes
  • "The Smurfs" by Peyo

    "The Smurfs" by Peyo
    One of the most successful comic album series of all time.
  • “Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book” by Harvey Kurtzman

    “Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book” by Harvey Kurtzman
  • “Asterix the Gaul” by Goscinny and Udder

    “Asterix the Gaul” by Goscinny and Udder
  • “Strange Tales #130-146" by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

    “Strange Tales #130-146" by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
    The first American Graphic Novel.
  • “Beyond Time and Again” by George Metzger.

    “Beyond Time and Again” by George Metzger.
  • “His Name Is... Savage” by Gil Kane and Archie Goodwin

    “His Name Is... Savage” by Gil Kane and Archie Goodwin
    A self-published 40-page comic novel.
  • “The Sinister House of Secret Love #2" by DC Comics

    “The Sinister House of Secret Love #2" by DC Comics
    A long Comic Book described as a graphic novel of Gothic terror.
  • “Blackmark” by Gil Kane and Archie Goodwin

    “Blackmark” by Gil Kane and Archie Goodwin
    A science fiction/sword and sorcery graphic novel.
  • “Jungle Action” by Marvel

    “Jungle Action” by Marvel
  • “The First Kingdom” by Jack Katz

    “The First Kingdom” by Jack Katz
  • “Bloodstar” by Richard Corben

    “Bloodstar” by Richard Corben
  • “Chandler: Red Tide” by Jim Steranko

    “Chandler: Red Tide” by Jim Steranko
    A Graphic Novel that has a film-noir style and uses no word balloons or other traditional text conventions.
  • "Fiction Illustrated" by Byron Preiss

    "Fiction Illustrated" by Byron Preiss
    The digest periodical to be claimed 'America's first Adult Graphic Novel Revue', publishing 4 issues of standalone in-colour comic stories.
  • “The Call of the Stars” by Enki Bilal

    “The Call of the Stars” by Enki Bilal
  • “Sabre: Slow Fade of an Endangered Species” by Don McGregor.

    “Sabre: Slow Fade of an Endangered Species” by Don McGregor.
    The first modern Graphic Novel to be sold in the USA "direct market" comic book shops and to grant full copyright ownership and sales royalties to its creators.
  • "The Silver Surfer" by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

    "The Silver Surfer" by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
    The first original mass-market trade paperback graphic novel.
  • “Elfquest” by Wendy and Richard Pini

    “Elfquest” by Wendy and Richard Pini
    The first creator- owned series to receive mass market distribution in mainstream bookstores.
  • “A Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories” by Will Eisner.

    “A Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories” by Will Eisner.
    In the US, Will Eisner's work made sure that the demand for more sophisticated comics was clear.
  • “Future Day” by Gene Day

    “Future Day” by Gene Day
  • “Racket Rumba by Jean-Marc Loro

    “Racket Rumba by Jean-Marc Loro
    A Graphic Novel spoof in the noir-detective genre.
  • “Blackmark: The Mind Demons” by Gil Kane

    “Blackmark: The Mind Demons” by Gil Kane
  • "Alien: The Illustrated Story" by Archie Goodwin.

    "Alien: The Illustrated Story" by Archie Goodwin.
    This Graphic Novel Adaptation was featured in the New York Times, leading to many publishers creating more graphic novels themed around movies and science fiction.
  • “Maus”by Art Spiegelman

    “Maus”by Art Spiegelman
  • “When the Wind Blows” by Raymond Briggs

    “When the Wind Blows” by Raymond Briggs
  • “The Death of Captain Marvel” by Marvel

    “The Death of Captain Marvel” by Marvel
  • “Comics and Sequential Art” by Will Eisner

    “Comics and Sequential Art” by Will Eisner
    A book, based on Eisner's experience teaching a course on Comics.
  • “Crisis on Infinite Earths” by Marv Wolfman and George Perez

    “Crisis on Infinite Earths” by Marv Wolfman and George Perez
  • “The Dark Knight Returns” by Frank Miller.

    “The Dark Knight Returns” by Frank Miller.
  • “Watchmen" by Alan Moore

    “Watchmen" by Alan Moore
  • The “Sandman” series by Neil Gaiman

     The “Sandman” series by Neil Gaiman
    The most successful Graphic Novel series in the USA (so far).
  • “From Hell” by Alan Moore

    “From Hell” by Alan Moore
  • “Understanding Comics” by Scott McCloud

    “Understanding Comics” by Scott McCloud
    A book that showed that Comics are juxtaposed pictorial images in deliberate sequence intended to convey information and/or produce an aesthetic response.
  • "Adult Comics” by Roger Sabin.

    "Adult Comics” by Roger Sabin.
    The book explained that there has always been comics for adults, who have always gained enjoyment from them regardless of the audience.
  • “Ghost World” by Daniel Clowes.

    “Ghost World” by Daniel Clowes.
  • “The Depository” by Andrzej Kilmowski.

    “The Depository” by Andrzej Kilmowski.
  • "Black Hole” by Charles Burns

    "Black Hole” by Charles Burns
  • “Kingdom Come” by DC Comics

    “Kingdom Come” by DC Comics
  • Manga became a major type of Graphic Novel Book.

    In late-1990s, Manga became a major type of Graphic Novel book, being aimed at a specific age or type of reader and having multiple genres.
  • "The Phantom” by Lee Falk.

    "The Phantom” by Lee Falk.
    The book was a great example of Graphic Novels being enjoyed and being popular overseas.
  • “The Birth Caul” by Alan Moore.

    “The Birth Caul” by Alan Moore.
  • "Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi

    "Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi
  • “Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth” by Chris Ware

    “Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth” by Chris Ware
  • “Snakes and Ladders” by Alan Moore.

    “Snakes and Ladders” by Alan Moore.
  • Graphic Novels were highly purchased in America

    In 2002, America purchased $100 million on original graphic novels. 
  • “The Secret” by Andrzej Kilmowski

    “The Secret” by Andrzej Kilmowski
  • “Y: The Last Man” by Brain K. Vaughan

     “Y: The Last Man” by Brain K. Vaughan
  • "Blankets" by Craig Thompson

    "Blankets" by Craig Thompson
  • “Mom’s Cancer” by Brian Fies

    “Mom’s Cancer” by Brian Fies
  • “Lost Girls” by Alan Moore

    “Lost Girls” by Alan Moore
  • “Pride of Baghdad” by Brain K. Vaughan

    “Pride of Baghdad” by Brain K. Vaughan
  • “Alice in Sunderland” by Brian Talbot

    “Alice in Sunderland” by Brian Talbot
  • “Horace Dorian” by Brian Talbot

  • “Stitches” by David Small

    “Stitches” by David Small
  • Period: to

    The 'Golden Period' of Graphic Novels

    The 21st Century was a 'golden period' for Graphic Novels with works that have the complexity and density of novels and unending limitations of artwork, both of which are integral parts of the medium rather than just being illustrative of a plot.
  • Period: to

    Walt Disney's Graphic Novels

    The most popular Graphic Album series that featured many Disney characters.
  • Period: to

    The Silver Age of Graphic Novels

    Graphic Novels took inspiration from Surrealism to illustrate strange worlds where heroes would like.
    They also were expressed in Pop Art, which used and appropriated commercial objects for the purpose of Fine Art.
  • Period: to

    The Bronze Age of Graphic Novels

    Graphic Novels now used photorealistic depictions of urban landscapes and everyday life instead of Surrealism. Graphic Novels also used cinematic styles with depths of focus and lighting to increase the emotional connection of the readers.
  • Period: to

    Retail changes eliminated local corner shop retailers

    The arrival of malls and mass merchandisers eliminated local corner store retailers, meaning that comic publishers sold their graphic novels to the direct market, comic book stores and merchandise stores. However, this meant that comics were created under a work-for-hire clause.
  • Period: to

    The Dark Age of Graphic Novels

    Graphic Novels took inspiration from Noir films from 1940 and 1950 and created gloomy and dubious worlds of strategic lighting, long shadows, smoke, rain and silhouettes. They were also inspired by Silver Age Horror Graphic Novels with senses of psychology, disturbing portraits and unnatural angles to give a perpetual sense of uneasiness.
  • Period: to

    Adult Comics were made

    Adult comics were made, using highly sophisticated controls of panel transitions and layouts to achieve narrative effects.
  • Period: to

    The Ageless Age of Graphic Novels.

    Advancements in technology have helped the creative industries gain lots of different creative and illustrative techniques and combinations, such as digital painting and adding animations to narrative stories. Also, the ambiguity of different publishers has led to a wide range of art styles as designs now depend on the nature of the Graphic Novel and the creator’s choices instead of uniformed “In-House” art styles.