An Era Before Comics


    
Here is my thought of the day (not as long as usual).  Modern day writers ply their craft at many different aspects of writing.   So a lot of comic book writers started as different types of writers, or even some migrate to other areas of writing like scripts, plays or novels.   Comics are sort of a different case in terms of a writing form though.   I am not sure if the technology existed to create comics before, but they at least didn’t exist before the year 1900.   What if the technology existed and if it was an accepted writing form before then?   Which authors from history would you think might have tried their hand at writing comic books.  

       

 


I think two pretty obvious ones are Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.   I read various titles of these two when I was a small girl, and their narratives lend themselves to comic style writings as do their sort of pseudo-scientific explanations of things combined with action and adventure.   I also think Robert Louis Stevenson and Jack London might have been potential comic book writers ( as the Frank Miller of his day.)     

 
17 Comments
17 Comments
Posted by hydrabob

Shakespeare would have been great. Macbeth would go really well as a Graphic Novel (and probably wouldn't be as long).

Posted by RazzaTazz
@hydrabob:
Agreed but I meant more which writers would want to write in the comic book format, not just transcribe their works into comics.   
 
I think most Shakespeare is available in comics is it not?
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Edited by Mechanical_Ape

Lewis Carroll, particularly with John Tenniel's art, would be pretty good I think. Whether it was a comic version Alice's Adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, or something new, I think the pair would have been able to make some pretty interesting works.
 
I could see Herman Melville, likely lots of action and adventure, and maybe Nathaniel Hawthorne, likely more gritty and introspective, working well also.

Posted by SC

Matthew from the Gospel of Matthew. Whales are great material for comics. I also suspect he may have invented and executed the first Hero VS Shark fight example as well. 

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Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Actually I might wish to make a small correction because in a way comics DID in fact exist before and even immediately after 1900.  They didn't take the exact panel/text form that modern day comics do but the similarities between them and today's are downright striking.  They were referred to as dime novels and covered wide ranges of subjects from humor to adventure.   
 
Here are some examples:  
 
    
 
    
 
    
 
Many are quick to point out that many of these were just like true novels and had maybe a colorful cover and then just text in the body, but that's not true, for many of them did have illustrations peppered throughout the text.  Sure, the ratio of art/text isn't like modern day comics...but I think dime novels like these are worthy ancestors.

Posted by joshmightbe

The first actual comic book was called "the Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck" and it was printed in 1842

Posted by RazzaTazz
@RedheadedAtrocitus:
Cool!  Well I didnt know that.  Still my question was more like what if the conditions today existed back then how writers write in various styles.  I don;t think a serious writer back then would consider writing in a dime novel, whereas serious ones these days will write comics (sometimes)
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Posted by Mercy_

Robert Louis Stevenson.  
@SC
said:

" Matthew from the Gospel of Matthew. Whales are great material for comics. I also suspect he may have invented and executed the first Hero VS Shark fight example as well.  "
WIN
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Posted by soundbite
@SC:
Mark would have been better than Matthew.  His book is more fast paced and action oriented.
Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus
@RazzaTazz: I think you're right actually.  Writers of earlier times I don't think would have stooped so low as to use their literary acumen to write such things...unless they were really hurt for cash.  Apparently a term existed in Victorian times known as "pot-boiler" which meant a book that a writer composed perhaps quite fast and smoothly without regard to whether it would be a true masterpiece or not and usually it applied to situations where the writer needed to be making some money.  The most glaring example of a "pot boiler" that I'm aware of is Mark Twain's book Pudd'nhead Wilson written in 1894.  So yes I do believe your assertion is correct, with dime novels in a way being the "pot boilers" of their day.  Obviously the rule isn't the same anymore in the literary medium.
Posted by IrishX

Alexandre Dumas with his adventure type of writing (Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers) would have been a great comic book writer.
Posted by hydrabob
@RazzaTazz:  oh, well I'm not sure thats kinda different, but in a good way. William Chaucer definitely could, his book Cantebury Tales was set up with different stories and he does great characterization. Plus he  never finished it so some other writer (Bendis) would have no problem coming along and ruining the end of any story he did.
Posted by GundamHeavyarms

Any of the books from the Redwall series written by the late great Brian Jaques would make a great comic book.  I immediately thought of Redwall when I read Mouse Guard.  I would love to read "the long patrol" or "salamandastron" or "Redwall" in comic format.

Posted by warlock360

What is this "Era before comics" you speak of? ;P
 

Posted by Larkin1388
@RedheadedAtrocitus said:
" Actually I might wish to make a small correction because in a way comics DID in fact exist before and even immediately after 1900.  They didn't take the exact panel/text form that modern day comics do but the similarities between them and today's are downright striking.  They were referred to as dime novels and covered wide ranges of subjects from humor to adventure.   
 
Here are some examples:  
 
    
 
    
 
     Many are quick to point out that many of these were just like true novels and had maybe a colorful cover and then just text in the body, but that's not true, for many of them did have illustrations peppered throughout the text.  Sure, the ratio of art/text isn't like modern day comics...but I think dime novels like these are worthy ancestors. "
This is really cool...
Posted by Mighty Thorion

C.S. Lewis  - Chronicles of Narnia

Posted by caesarsghost
@GundamHeavyarms said:
"Any of the books from the Redwall series written by the late great Brian Jaques would make a great comic book.  I immediately thought of Redwall when I read Mouse Guard.  I would love to read "the long patrol" or "salamandastron" or "Redwall" in comic format. "


Amen! This would make a great comic.

 

1. Hemingway- I think his minimalist style would have been great, and 'The Undefeated' would make a great comic.

2. John Swift- Gulliver's Travels

3. Goethe- Faust!

4. Aldous Huxley- Brave New World

5. A. Merritt- The Metal Monster

6. Rafael Sabatini- Captain Blood

 

These are all pretty much either in the Gothic or R.L Stevenson traditions, but they are great early writers (most of them... not Hemingway) of sci-fi or horror and they would have made great graphic novels.