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Research Essay Sample on the Phenomenon of Comics

The research essay is a type of work that integrates the knowledge on a particular subject which student receives during the semester and his or her ability to analyze it and create an original vision on the issue. Besides, this type of work presents the skills to work with specific formats and literature. The standard content comprises an introduction, several body paragraphs, conclusion, and ends up with the bibliography part.

‘The Phenomenon of Comics’ Essay Sample

Changes in the book formats of recent years demonstrate the period of transition of the printing publication to the multimedia space, so as the creation of alternative versions of the printed word. It also influences the changing paradigm of the readership of a particular genre of literature, creating invariance of the printed product using in various social and public spheres, combining, for example, the entertainment side of writing with learning. The harmonious combination of graphics in any manifestation and verbal accompaniment makes it possible to develop creative and logical thinking to assimilate the presented material fully. Therefore, the specific features of a book publication or a web version can be attributed to the characteristics of a comic book or the so-called graphic novel, which embodies entertaining, learning, and social functions.

The Phenomenon of Comics and Its Historic-Literature Tendencies

Analyzing current trends in book publishing, one can trace a specific and long-known pattern. The latter assumes attracting the reader attention with an extraordinary approach to the compilation of an upcoming book masterpiece; for example, combining non-standard genres for a particular type of publishing, using colorful illustrations, and creating well-formulated text content. Taking this into account, it is worth emphasizing that literature for children remains one of the most sought-after and challenging to compose. It has various functions, including studying, leisure, entertainment, self-development, learning languages, and the strengthening of individual skills. Such diversity imposes some unwritten “obligations” on the book publisher, namely, the creation of high quality and, importantly, an exciting print product for children, corresponding to their age group. Behind the mentioned characteristics, the comics embody a competent printing design to satisfy the current cognitive needs.

Comics denote a series of pictures accompanied by short texts (phylacteries) framed in the shape of a cloud and transmitting the thought or speech of a character, which together implies a coherent story. In fact, the comic book represents a literary and artistic work consisting of a series of drawings and verbal constructions. In various countries, the comics have acquired its specificity and name based on the cultural heritage of the region: manga in Japan, fumetto (drawn stories) in Italy, and drawn strips or BD (bande dessinée) in France and Belgium. Also, the type adherence of the comics is influenced by its volumes: large-scale drawn stories pertain to the graphic novels, while the short stories are called stripes. There are comics without verbal accompaniment, the so-called “silent comics,” in which the narration is conducted only with the help of a drawing. Despite such a variety of comics, its components in the form of a book edition remain unchanged:

  • The cover with the title, authors, and picture of the main character consists of two sheets: front and back;
  • Frontispiece drawing: an introduction to the comic book;
  • Title page: a brief introduction, information about the authors and artists;
  • Central part: standard from twenty to forty pages, but depending on the type (for example, a graphic novel) there may be a greater or an unlimited number of pages;
  • Pin-Up Page: additions to the comic book, often alternative coverage options.

An analysis of publications on this topic has shown that comics are viewed as a historical, social, and cultural phenomenon or a form of language learning and the basis for countless movies during the past decades. It should be remarked that the question of the study of comics as a genre of literature has not been sufficiently considered, despite the recent increase in popularity among readers of all ages, and especially among the younger generation. It was the impetus for the introduction of the comic book into practical activity in socially critical spheres, despite the primary entertainment function of this genre of literature.

Like any cultural phenomenon, the comics have its history and an extensive period of the emergence of graphics and later book art in the world culture. The rock art, murals, and popular prints (the technique of woodcuts, engravings on copper; image with a signature, characterized by simplicity and accessibility of images) could be considered as the progenitors of the comic books. The comics were first published by William Hogarth, the English painter and founder of the socio-critical trend in European art that managed to create a dramatic story via drawing in the eighteenth century. Additionally, Hogarth introduced the concept of seriality in the comics. Besides, the first sample of this graphic prose belongs to Thomas Rowlandson that created a series of comics about the adventures of Dr. Syntax (1812-1821), attracting significant attention of the audience. However, Geneva teacher, graphic artist, and novelist Rodolphe Töpffer is considered the first author working in the form of modern comics. Topfer created history in prints for his students in the design of an album of drawings (1830-1846) for better assimilation of educational material about the adventures of Mr. Jabot and Mr. Crepin (Walkley 106). It was a bright start for the genre.

The Comics Evolvement into a Special Cultural Genre

The succeeding stage in the spread of the comics is inextricably linked with the U.S. publishing business of the late nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. Jimmy Swinnerton, the contributor of the prestigious American magazine The San Francisco Examiner, included “The Little Bears” story in the 1892 edition, which later became the first American comic strip. Subsequently, the editors of the issue started to collaborate with many talented artists, making comics its main trump card to attract readers: on the pages of daily and Sunday newspapers there began to appear stories about a little boy in a yellow suit (by Richard Outcault) which compiled a series called Hogan’s Alley (McAllister, Sewell Jr, and Gordon 1). Admitting the popularity of the comics, the chief publisher William R. Hearst has decided to change the printing technology to increase the number of colored pages with the comics.
The subsequent stages of the development of the comics as an independent genre can be briefly described as follows:

Tired of all the guides and never-ending instructions?
  • The Golden Age (1930-1950): the first steps in the progress of graphic novels, the founding of DC Comics, the transition from humorous stories to superheroic epic and narration of new world, namely the creation of such characters as Superman, Batman, and Captain America as a means of maintaining the spirit during the military conflicts;
  • Silver Age (from the 1950s to 1970s): the appearance of the new Flash character; the active work of the Marvel company in the face of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Jack Kirby who created famous comic book heroes of all times – Fantastic Four, X-Men, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, and Spider-Man;
  • Bronze Age (from the 1970s to 1985): the comic book plots are becoming more realistic for the adult audience of readers, referring to the current social problems such as bad habits and nature conservation; the death of Gwen Stacy (the beloved one of Spider-Man) as the main event of this period;
  • Modern Century (middle of the 1980s till present): the saturation of realistic dark scenes, the emergence of more anti-heroes, the increased popularity of Asian comics genres. The latter include Japanese manga, Chinese manhua, and Korean manhwa in connection with numerous manga film versions in the form of anime (Japanese multiplication genre). The period also includes the emergence of webcomics and publications on the Internet, the establishing of the basis of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as the screen version of the famous comic book series (Yockey 225).

It is worth noting that in the twentieth and twenty-first-century the comics grew into a massive tree of genre illuminations, being adjacent with the fiction on the publishing market regarding its structure. Here fantasy, mysticism, romance, and the adventures of superheroes coexist and imply a multidimensional space for the artistic imaginations and the next plot decisions.

The Visual-Functional Potential of Comics in Social-Pedagogical Sphere

Despite the uniformity in the design and composition of the main elements of the publication but multidimensional thematic differences of comics, the synthesis of narration and graphics remains unchanged. It gives reliable support and variability of the use of this literary genre in various fields, primarily pedagogy, philology, and social-pedagogical activity. Children’s perception and understanding of reality are different from an adult’s version, so teachers try to provide educational material as clearly as possible taking into account the characteristics of the child’s psyche, particularly the lack of skills to fix attention. Visualization and figurativeness of comics make it possible to concentrate attention, to convey the necessary material as concisely and structurally as possible. In particular, this approach is productively implemented in the teaching of foreign languages.

Furthermore, it is possible to put forward the assumption that comics can be practiced in English lessons in elementary school as a means of teaching under certain conditions. The main argument in favor of this thesis is compliance with the interests and mental characteristics of children of primary school age. Its application can be an effective means of forming the mechanisms of English speech in students (especially if it is not the first language), providing that the specific features of their mental development and psyche are taken into account. Considering not only the visual potential of the comics in pedagogy, but also its informational content, the French comic series Asterix designates one of the best examples that focus on building syntax, using original dialogues, copyright recitatives, and specially simplified construction of words in offers. The pattern of this series shows the whole range of possibilities of the comics as an additional tool in learning a foreign language at the elementary level.

The Connection between Comics and Cinema

Comics were initially conceived as an entertaining genre, but despite this fact, it began to be used in various fields of activity as a vivid example to motivate the solution of socially significant problems. The socio-pedagogical movement has an extensive area of work with the use of multiple methods and techniques. At the same time, the cultural function of comics in relation to the cinema genre could not be ignored. The unconditional link “cinema-comics” is visible to the audience. The comics became the basis for creating a particular type of films.
For sure, the meeting of cinema with comics was inevitable due to genetic relatedness. The anatomical outline of a comic book is nothing more than a director’s storyboard; the pairing of characters, the dialogue duel and the open finale, which implies seriality, are all composite signs of the comics. Such a complementarity of the two genres of art confirms the narrative nature of the comic book, makes it possible to use it in its activities fully. For example, teachers of literature, using screen versions of literary works as an innovative technology in pedagogy, can show the invariance of the presentation of the masterpieces of world literature.

Throughout its long history, the comics have experienced multiple transformations from primitive paintings to full-fledged forms of art, printing, and ultimately cinematography. The way to improve the form and content coincided with the needs of society for almost two hundred years. Initially, comics were considered as entertainment for the masses, a way of raising the spirit and agitation. Eventually, its real potential was recognized as a vivid example in the activities of such fields as pedagogy and social movement, taking forms of applications for the benefit of children’s comprehensive development. Overall, the comics can be attributed to the literature for any age, but preferably children. The potential of the comics is impossible to be delineated with boundaries, and in the future, it will be used in ascending progress as in graphic print form and movies.

The present research essay sample covers one of the most current and popular subjects – the history of the comics genre. It implies all the parts essential for the mentioned academic form of work. Also, there is presented an analytical view on the subject past, present, and future potential for not merely entertaining but educational purpose. Thus, choosing popular research essay topics, following the format instructions and utilization of the scholarly literature is a secret to the excellent quality of research essay. Hope this sample gives useful guidance on how to write the highest mark paper.

Works Cited
McAllister, Matthew P., Edward H. Sewell Jr, and Ian Gordon. “Introducing Comics and Ideology.” Comics and Ideology (2001): 1-13.
Walkley, Maxwell. “Rodolphe Töpffer (1799-1846): A Swiss Satirist of French Society and Culture.” Arts: The Journal of the Sydney University Arts Association 20 (2012): 106-122.
Yockey, Matt, ed. Make Ours Marvel: Media Convergence and a Comics Universe. University of Texas Press, 2017.