A comic book, also called comicbook, comic magazine or (in the United Kingdom and Ireland) simply comic, is a publication that consists of comics art in the form of sequential juxtaposed panels that represent individual scenes. Panels are often accompanied by descriptive prose and written narrative, usually, dialogue contained in word balloons emblematic of the comics art form. Although comics have some origins in 18th century in Eastern Asia, comic books were first popularized[disputed – discuss] in the United States and the United Kingdom during the 1930s. The first modern comic book, Famous Funnies, was released in the US in 1933 and was a reprinting of earlier newspaper humor comic strips, which had established many of the story-telling devices used in comics. The term comic book derives from American comic books once being a compilation of comic strips of a humorous tone; however, this practice was replaced by featuring stories of all genres, usually not humorous in tone.
The largest comic book market is Japan. By 1995, the manga market in Japan was valued at ¥586.4 billion ($6–7 billion), with annual sales of 1.9 billion manga books (tankobon volumes and manga magazines) in Japan, equivalent to 15 issues per person. In 2020 the manga market in Japan reached a new record value of ¥612.5 billion due to a fast growth of digital manga sales as well as an increase in print sales. The comic book market in the United States and Canada was valued at $1.09 billion in 2016. Beginning with the late 2010's manga started massively outselling American comics. As of 2017, the largest comic book publisher in the United States is manga distributor Viz Media, followed by DC Comics and Marvel Comics. As of 2017, the largest comic book publisher in the United States is manga distributor Viz Media, followed by DC Comics and Marvel Comics the original feature full length special edition franchises including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and the X-Men. The best-selling comic book categories in the US as of 2019 are juvenile children's fiction at 41%, manga at 28% and superhero comics at 10% of the market. Another major comic book market is France, where Franco-Belgian comics and Japanese manga each represent 40% of the market, followed by American comics at 10% market share.
The Golden Age of Comic Books describes an era of American comic books from 1938 to 1956. During this time, modern comic books were first published and rapidly increased in popularity. The superhero archetype was created and many well-known characters were introduced, including Superman, Batman, Robin, Shazam, Captain America, and Wonder Woman.
The Silver Age of Comic Books was a period of artistic advancement and widespread commercial success in mainstream American comic books, predominantly those featuring the superhero archetype. Following the Golden Age of Comic Books and an interregnum in the early to mid-1950s, the Silver Age is considered to cover the period from 1956 to 1970, and was succeeded by the Bronze Age.
The Bronze Age of Comic Books is an informal name for a period in the history of American superhero comic books usually said to run from 1970 to 1985. It follows the Silver Age of Comic Books and is followed by the Modern Age of Comic Books. The Bronze Age retained many of the conventions of the Silver Age, with traditional superhero titles remaining the mainstay of the industry. However, a return of darker plot elements and storylines more related to relevant social issues, such as racism, began to flourish during the period, prefiguring the later Modern Age of Comic Books.