Speech Bubbles Gone Dirty: The History of Adult Comics

“Comics are for kids” is a misconception. It’s not surprising for most people to think that way but there is a world of adult comics also. What is surprising, is that they’re not all about sex or violence.

When you go to the comics section of grocery stores, you see comics like Donald Duck or manga for kids.

Adult comics have surprisingly long history. The first modern adult comics were published in the USA in the 1920s. They are called Tijuana bibles and they contained pornographic comics. In the modern world, porn comics or Japanese hentai manga aren’t uncommon.

Brute violence was brought to comics by two Europeans, Benoît Sokal and Hugo Pratt in the 1970s. In the 1950s, American EC Comics showed that adult comics can be made without sex or violence as mature fiction comics.

Censorship knocked EC Comics down but adult comics managed to survive in America, thanks to the underground comics movement in the late 1960s. It was not until the early 1990s that adult comics started to be mainstream in America. Famous adult comics like Hellblazer and Sandman were published at that time.

Another country with a traditional comic culture is Japan. Modern manga comics were born about 60 years ago. The first manga were for children but soon adult manga started to gain popularity. Nowadays lots of adult manga like hentai are published. Compared to American or European adult comic culture, Japan’s culture is more open and mainstream.

Most of the published comics may be for children but adult comics stand firmly on their feet also.

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1 Comment
  1. Cyberkinetix
    Posted March 21, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    There are plenty of comics and graphic novels out there meant for adults that aren’t typified by violence and/or sexual content, but by the depth and complexity of the plot and characters. A genre shouldn’t be able to define the content.
    Great article, thanks!

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