The World’s Oldest Comic Books

What is the difference between a comic book and a painting? Perhaps it is the fact the words, which are missing in the painting, are incorporated in the comic; or maybe painted art simply has more value. Whichever it is, a comic is likened to a painting because it doesn’t have a complicated message that you, as the observer, have to decipher. A comic brings a story to life, it helps oneself to perfectly show the world what they see in their minds as they tell a story. Comic books are can be likened to the windows to the imagination; they are portals into the creative mind of a talented person. Even in times of old, storytelling was a form of entertainment, a pastime everyone loved to take part in, sitting around a fire and learning of far-off places, whether fictional or real. Storytelling was at the heart of humanity and the livelihoods of nearly all of the worlds civilizations. Storytelling was a means of passing the cultural baton to the next generation. It was a way of letting the locals know that there is a world beyond their village and the day to day lives.

As storytelling developed, it became more and more extravagant. It was accompanied by dancing and extravagant shows. Then we entered the stage of humanity when instruments were included and the stories were told in a lyrical manner. And before all of this, stories were even engraved in caves, such stories include tales of wars between indigenous tribes and foreign explorers. The comic was a new way of storytelling. It wasn’t boring like the newspaper, nor was it obscure like artwork. That is why comic books were so loved. The oldest comic book to be curated is the “Master Flashgold’s Splendiferous Dream” which was created in 1755. It was a Japanese comic that was published by Koikawa Harumachi. The story encapsulated the life of a poor samurai who embarked on a journey from the countryside to the city of Tokyo in search of a better job. On his journey he becomes extremely fatigued and takes a nap. He then dreams about sensual and beautiful geishas, and a luxury lifestyle he would never pass upon.

Master Flashgold’s Splendiferous Dream

Another very old and ancient comic is called ‘Historie de M. Jabot’. It is more of a satirical comic than anything else. Published in 1833 by teacher and artist Rodolphe Topffer, who was of Swiss origins, the comic tells the story of yet another poor/ middle class man dreaming about a better life. In this comic, the protagonist forcefully tries to up his social status to the upper class. The comics actually weren’t for the public’s eyes to begin with, they were just for Topffers family and friends to enjoy. His comics started gaining momentum when his family advised him to go public with them. His other comic “Histore de M. Vie up Boix” eventually became the first ever comic book to be published in America