Although often dismissed as unsophisticated, the roots of Comic Art can be found in the most austere of beginnings—from the hieroglyphs of Ancient Egypt to the frescoes of the Vatican. These early forms of Narrative Art told a story through an image or a series of images, much like the comics of today.

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Comic Art as Narrative Art

Andrew Farago

Curator

San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum

Featured Works

  • Al Capp

    Bio

    Al Capp

    1909-1979

    Born Alfred Caplin, cartoonist and satirist Al Capp is best known for his comic strip Li’l Abner, which ran for 43 years. The strip was the first to take place in the South, and Capp used his disenfranchised characters to satirize both politicians and popular culture. At the height of its popularity, Li’l Abner ran in over 900 American newspapers and 100 foreign papers in 28 countries, reaching more than 90 million readers.

  • John Cassaday

    Bio

    John Cassaday

    1971-

    New York- based cartoonist John Cassaday is a self-taught illustrator. Penciling the art for comic books and compilations, he is best known for his work on DC Comics’ Planetary and Marvel’s Astonishing X-Men and Captain America. A relaunch of the patriotic icon, his Captain America covers were inspired by World War II propaganda posters and are among his most popular and critically acclaimed works.

  • Carl Critchlow

    Bio

    Carl Critchlow

    1963-

    British fantasy and science-fiction illustrator Carl Critchlow began his professional career in 1983, publishing his work in White Dwarf magazine. He is best known for his character Thrud the Barbarian, which made its debut as black and white ink drawings in White Dwarf. It wasn’t until the 1990s that Critchlow began to use color, fully painting his work on the 1995 Batman/Judge Dredd: The Ultimate Riddle.

  • Robert Crumb

    Bio

    Robert Crumb

    1943-

    American cartoonist and musician Robert Crumb is a cult icon of 1960s underground comics. His counterculture characters Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural are among his most popular creations. Many of his drawings, including his Keep on Truckin’ strip, were inspired by American blues music. An accomplished musician himself, Crumb’s surrealistic, psychedelic artwork has been featured on many album covers.

  • Jim Davis

    Bio

    Jim Davis

    1945-

    Cartoonist Jim Davis grew up on a farm in Indiana. His family owned 25 cats, inspiring the main character of his most popular strip, Garfield. Created in 1978,Garfield became the world’s most syndicated comic strip, now in 2,580 newspapers worldwide, reaching 300 million readers a day. Davis went on to create other popular strips, including Tumbleweeds and U.S. Acres.

  • Jules Feiffer

    Bio

    Jules Feiffer

    1929-

    Pulitzer-prize winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer is most recognized for his eponymous strip, Feiffer. His long and prolific career began with an apprenticeship with comic legend Will Eisner at age 16. Since then, he produced strips that ran in The Village Voice for 42 years, published dozens of books, plays and screenplays, and created an animated short, Munro, which earned an Academy Award.

  • Al Feldstein

    Bio

    Al Feldstein

    1925-2014

    American writer, editor and artist Al Feldstein is best known for his work at EC Comics and as the editor of Mad magazine during the height of its influence. While at EC Comics, Feldstein encouraged artists to develop their signature style, raising the visibility of its titles, including Weird ScienceWeird Fantasy andTales from the Crypt. Feldstein’s tenure at Mad endured nearly three decades.

  • Bud Fisher

    Bio

    Bud Fisher

    1885-1954

    American cartoonist Bud Fisher is credited with creating the first successful daily comic strip in the United States, Mutt and Jeff. Born in Chicago, Fisher studied at the University of Chicago and began his career as a journalist and sketch artist. He first conceived of Mutt and Jeff in 1907 and went on to produce over 300 films with the characters in addition to comic books and his successful strip.

  • Harold Foster

    Bio

    Harold Foster

    1892-1982

    Canadian-born illustrator and writer Harold Foster (better known as Hal) is most recognized for his comic strip, Prince Valiant. The weekly strip showcased Foster’s scrupulous attention to detail and his preference for using captions as opposed to word balloons. Foster’s legacy goes beyond his own work as he had great influence on many young artists who ushered in the Golden Age of Comics.

  • Jean Luc Giraud

    Bio

    Jean Luc Giraud

    1938-2012

    Jean Giraud was a French artist and writer who frequently used the pseudonym “Moebius.” Using the name “Gir” he penned a Western comic series, Lt.Blueberry, while as “Moebius” he wrote and drew dazzling science fiction comics. Moebius also contributed storyboards and concept designs to numerous science fiction films, including AlienTron, The Fifth Element and Star Wars V.

  • Harold Gray

    Bio

    Harold Gray

    1894-1968

    Harold Gray was an American cartoonist who created the popular strip Little Orphan Annie. After an editor at the Chicago Tribune changed the name “Otto” to “Annie,” the strip debuted in the New York Daily Newsin 1924. Gray’s strip was the first to feature a political ideology, targeting organized labor, the New Deal and communism. Finally cancelled in 2010, the strip inspired a radio show, a Broadway musical and several film adaptations.

  • George Herriman

    Bio

    George Herriman

    1880-1944

    George Herriman was an American cartoonist most recognized for his strip The Dingbat Family, featuring the character Krazy Kat. While not wildly popular in its day, the strip was appreciated by the art community and was highly influential on a generation of comics to come, including Robert Crumb, Wil Eisner and Charles Schultz.

  • Greg and Tim Hildebrandt

    Bio

    Greg and Tim Hildebrandt

    1939-2006

    Better known in the art world as “The Brothers Hildebrandt,” Greg and Tim Hildebrandt are twins who began their careers in 1959. Producing illustrations for comic books, movie posters, children’s books, novels, calendars, advertisements, and trading cards, they gained international recognition with a Star Wars movie poster and the 1976, 1977, and 1978 JRR Tolkien Lord of the Rings calendars. Tim Hildebrandt died in 2006.

  • Carmine Infantino

    Bio

    Carmine Infantino

    1925-2013

    American comic book artist and editor Carmine Infantino bridged the Golden and Silver Ages of comics. A regular artist of the Golden Age’s Green Lantern, he worked for DC comics in the 50s, 60s and 70s, taking the position of art director and then publisher. In 1956, his science fiction-based update on the character “The Flash” brought the resurgence of superheroes and the beginning of what fans and historians call the Silver Age of comics.

  • Walt Kelly

    Bio

    Walt Kelly

    1913-1973

    Walt Kelly was an American animator and cartoonist best known for his comic strip Pogo. Beginning his animation career in 1936 at Walt Disney Studios, Kelly contributed to PinocchioFantasia and Dumbo. He resigned in 1941 at 28 years old to work at Dell Comics, where he created Pogo. Featuring characters in a Georgia swamp, the strip was a means for Kelly to express his political and social views via satire.

  • David Levine

    Bio

    David Levine

    1926-2009

    American illustrator David Levine is best recognized for his caricatures in The New York Review of Books. His work first appeared in the publication just a few months after it was founded in 1963, and he would go on to contribute over 3,800 pen-and-ink caricatures of famous writers, artists and politicians. His keen eye for character and incomparable style was so sought after that he also contributed thousands of renderings for EsquireThe New York TimesRolling Stone, and The New Yorker amongst others.

  • Mad Magazine

    Bio

    Mad Magazine

    1952-

    Founded by editor Harvey Kurtzman and publisher William Gaines in 1952, Mad Magazine was originally a comic book before becoming a magazine. It was a trailblazer in satirizing popular culture, targeting politics, celebrities and social norms, never losing a wry self-consciousness of its own position in the media machine.

  • Mad Magazine Covers

    Bio

    Mad Magazine Covers

    1952-

    The gap-toothed boy pictured in many Mad magazine covers is Alfred E. Neuman, a fictional character whose mischievous face has become forever joined with the Mad brand. The boy’s image can be traced back to 1894 and was used in various advertisements before being adopted by Mad in 1954.

  • Winsor McCay

    Bio

    Winsor McCay

    1869-1934

    American cartoonist and animator Winsor McCay is best known for his comic strip Little Nemo and his animated film Gertie the DinosaurLittle Nemo in Slumberland debuted in the Herald in 1905. McCay experimented with the architectural elements of the comic strip, making groundbreaking choices in timing, panel size and color.

  • George McManus

    Bio

    George McManus

    1884-1954

    American cartoonist George McManus was born to Irish parents in St. Louis, Missouri. His most famous work is the classic syndicated strip Bringing Up Father, which revolves around Jiggs, an Irish immigrant, and his wife Maggie. McManus produced the strip from 1913 until his death in 1954.

  • Mike Mignola

    Bio

    Mike Mignola

    1960-

    Mike Mignola is a comic book artist and writer who created the series Hellboy for Dark Horse Comics. The Hellboy superhero is a benevolent demon who fights evil forces, including Nazis. The comic’s style is dark, brooding and action-packed.

  • Frank Miller

    Bio

    Frank Miller

    1957-

    Artist, writer and director Frank Miller is best known for his comic art and graphic novels, including Daredevil: Born Again, The Dark Night ReturnsSin City and 300. He worked at both DC Comics and Marvel. Miller reimagined Daredevil as a crime comic with a superhero, focusing on darker ideas and storylines. His time living in California in the 1990s helped inspire the creation of Sin City, whose noir world attracted a wide audience.

  • Charles Schultz

    Bio

    Charles Schultz

    1922-2000

    Charles Shultz authored and illustrated the beloved Peanuts comic strip. As a child, he enjoyed drawing his family dog’s antics, a precursor to Charlie Brown’s optimistic canine, Snoopy. Over the nearly 50 years that Peanuts was published, Schulz drew more than 18,000 strips. At its height, Peanuts reached readers in 75 countries, 2,600 papers and 21 languages.

  • Edward Sorel

    Bio

    Edward Sorel

    1929-

    American cartoonist Edward Sorel is renowned for his scathing satirization of right-wing politics. He was a regular contributor to The NationNew York Magazine and The Atlantic, among other publications, and his work today is often featured in Vanity Fair. A lifelong New Yorker, Sorel’s work frequently addresses local culture and politics.

  • Gahan Wilson

    Bio

    Gahan Wilson

    1930-

    Gahan Wilson is an author, cartoonist and illustrator from Evanston, Illinois. His work often reflects his preference for gallows humor. In addition to his illustrative work, he contributed fiction stories to PlayboyCollier’s and The New Yorker for almost 50 years. Wilson’s quirky illustrative style and sardonic wit have earned him a loyal fan base.

  • Basil Wolverton

    Bio

    Basil Wolverton

    1909-1978

    Basil Wolverton was an American comic artist and illustrator. In the 1950s, Wolverton produced 17 horror and science fiction comics for Marvel and other publishers. He also contributed to Mad magazine and created a series of trading cards for Topps that pictured his signature twisted headshots. Wolverton’s work was most characterized for its humorous, fearless depiction of the grotesque.

Lucas Museum of Narrative Art