Main Page Space SF and Fantasy Comics

History of SF comics

Science fiction comics began as early as the 1930s in US newspapers. They have since spread to many countries around the world, with the two largest publishers of this comic genre today arguably being the United States and Japa

The first science-fiction comic was the gag cartoon Mr. Skygack, from Mars by A.D. Condo, which debuted in newspapers in 1907. The first non-humorous science fiction comic strip was Buck Rogers, based on a story published in Amazing Stories. It was quickly followed by others in the genre, notably Flash Gordon, Brick Bradford, and the British strip Dan Dare. When comic books arrived on the scene, many of them featured science fiction. One notable title was Planet Comics. Also, with the introduction of Superman, the super-hero genre was born, which often included science fiction elements (Superman came from another planet). Today the superhero is considered a subgenre of science fiction.

In the 1950s, EC Comics had great success and popularity publishing science fiction comics of increasing sophistication, but were almost driven out of business by the wave of anti-comics feeling stirred-up among parents and educators by Dr. Fredric Wertham’s book Seduction of the Innocent. In spite of opposition, science fiction in comics in the U.S. continued through the 1960s with stories for children and adolescents. It began to return to the adult market again in the late 60s with the wave of hippy underground comics.
Japanese manga also featured science fiction elements very early. In the 1950s, Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy was one of the first major science fiction manga. In the next decades many other creators and works would follow, including Leiji Matsumoto (e.g. Galaxy Express 999), Katsuhiro Otomo (e.g. Akira) and Masamune Shirow (e.g. Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell).

In the UK, the publication of Eagle gave a platform for the launch of Dan Dare in 1950. Starting in the mid-sixties The Trigan Empire was featured in Look and Learn drawn by Don Lawrence, who would go on to create Storm. In the 1970s, publications such as 2000 AD featured a selection of regular stories either putting a science fiction spin on popular themes like sports and war and also introduced characters like Judge Dredd. Its success spawned a number of spin-offs an imitators like Tornado, Starlord and Crisis none of which lasted more than a few years, with the earlier titles being merged back into 2000 AD. Other examples include the Polish comic Funky Koval.

The first French comics story with a science-fiction theme was Zig et Puce au XXIème Siècle (Zig & Puce In The 21st Century), first serialized in a French Sunday newspaper and then published as an album in 1935; this was one of the many adventures of the teenage characters Zig and Puce first created in 1925. The first serious (featuring non-juvenile characters) French science fiction comics story was Futuropolis serialized in the comics magazine Junior in 1937-1938; the pseudo-sequel Electropolis followed in 1940. When the Nazi occupation forces banned the import of Flash Gordon into France, Le Rayon U (The U Ray) was created as replacement in the magazine Bravo which had been running Flash Gordon. Other French science fiction comics which debuted in 1943 include Otomox, featuring a powerful robot, serialized in Pic et Nic and L’Épervier Bleu (The Blue Hawk), serialized in Spirou magazine. The first French comics magazine exclusively featuring a science fiction hero was the relatively short-lived Radar of 1947. A far more longer lasting French comics magazine would be the small-format Meteor, published from 1953 onwards till 1964; its main feature was Les Connquerants de l’espace (The Conquerors of Space). Subsequent notable French science fiction names the heroine Barbararella, publications like Métal Hurlant and authors like Enki Bilal (e.g. The Nikopol Trilogy) and Moebius.

Science fiction is a wide genre, not simply limited to superheroes and spaceships.

Notable creators

Dan Barry
Enki Bilal
Pierre Christin
Philippe Druillet
Warren Ellis
Juan Giménez (e.g. Metabarons)
Jean-Claude Mézières
Joe Orlando
Luiz Eduardo de Oliveira (e.g. Aldebaran (comics))
Katsuhiro Otomo
Alex Raymond
Masamune Shirow
Jim Starlin
Al Williamson
Wallace Wood
Sydney Jordan (e.g. Jeff Hawke)

History of Fantasy Comics

Fantasy comics have been around as long as the medium itself.

The early years of fantasy comics began in the golden age and were populated with such notable works range from All-American comics’ (and later DC comics’) Greek myth inspired super hero Wonder Woman to Dell’s Tarzan.

Starting in the late 40s through the mid-50s Horror-themed fantasy anthologies gained prominence, the most famous of these includes EC Comics’ Tales from the Crypt, Haunt of Fear, and Vault of Horror; and lesser notable titles such as American Comics Group Adventures into the Unknown and Forbidden Worlds though this trend saw its prevalence cease with the publication of Dr. Fredric Wertham’s book Seduction of the Innocent which directly led to a Senate hearing of the influence of comics on juvenile violence. Though fantasy comics were able to survive in this new atmosphere though in a diminished capacity compared to its much stronger output in these early years.

Fantasy themed super heroes would continue to populate comics through the 50s and regained popularity in 1960s with such characters as Steve Ditko’s Doctor Strange published by Marvel comics and Jack Kirby’s Thor both appearing in two of Marvel’s Fantasy Themed anthologies Strange Tales and Journey into Mystery.

Notable creators

Al Feldstein
Frank Frazetta
Otto Binder
Gardner Fox
Steve Ditko
Jack Kirby
Joe Orlando
Osamu Tezuka
Bernie Wrightson
Hal Foster
Jim Starlin
Al Williamson
Wallace Wood

Only comics from before 2000

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