Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels
A History of Graphic Narratives
by Robert S. Petersen
November 2010, 274pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-36330-6
$49, £37, 41€, A70
eBook Available: 978-0-313-36331-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Too often the popularity and subject matter of “comic books” is perceived as a purely modern American phenomenon that only arrived in the 20th century and is virtually nonexistent outside the United States. This is certainly untrue; in fact, the world’s first costumed superhero—”The Golden Bat”—appeared in Japan in 1931, seven years before Superman was created.

This text examines comics, graphic novels, and manga with a broad, international scope that reveals their conceptual origins in antiquity.

Graphic narrative art is a fascinating phenomenon that emerged centuries ago with the expansion of literacy and the publication industry. The earliest example of a repeating comic character dates back to the late 1700s. By following the growth of print technology in Europe and Asia, it is possible to understand how and why artists across cultures developed different strategies for telling stories with pictures.

This book is much more than a history of graphic narrative across the globe. It examines broader conceptual developments that preceded the origins of comics and graphic novels; how those ideas have evolved over the last century and a half; how literacy, print technology, and developments in narrative art are interrelated; and the way graphic narratives communicate culturally significant stories. The work of artists such as William Hogarth, J. J. Grandville, Willhem Busch, Frans Masereel, Max Ernst, Saul Steinberg, Henry Darger, and Larry Gonick are discussed or depicted.


  • Includes numerous illustrations of British satirical prints, Japanese woodblock prints, and the art of prominent illustrators
  • Includes a chapter on the latest developments in digital comics
Robert S. Petersen is associate professor of art at Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL. His published works include essays on the role of sound in Japanese manga, traditional dramatic art of Java and India, and the evolution of the speech bubble in British satirical prints from the 16th to the 17th century.


"Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels is an excellent and thoughtful read for those who want to understand the history behind these books."—Midwest Book Review, February 1, 2011
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