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Comic – Definition, Characteristics, Types, Fine Arts, and More

What is the Comic?

  • The term Comic is an accepted loan from the English language (comic, that is, “funny”), which today we know as a synonym for a comic strip or even graphic novel.
  • It is a form of artistic expression and a means of communication, consisting of a series of illustrations.
  • We can read in a continuous sequence, allow the reader to compose a story of some kind.
  • They frame it in vignettes, that is, in boxes whose form and style correspond to the narrative or thematic content inside.
  • And also, they may or may not be supported by the written text or by signs and characters of the genre.

Fine Arts and Digital Format

  • Similarly, it can be drawn on different paper types or even in digital format (Web comics).
  • It is often the result of collaborations between various kinds: cartoonists, screenwriters, colorists, and designers.
  • The same goes for its audience, which can be highly varied: there is a theme and comic style for practically all reading tastes, even the most artistically demanding.
  • For this reason, the comic is considered today as the ninth art (of the Fine Arts recognized by the Academy).
  • Finally, the term comic comes from comic books that were one of the first massive formats for producing this type of work.


The comic in its narrative marks the times:

  • Present, past, and future, through its vignettes.
  • Also, use flashback and flashforward to set the tempo.
  • The analepsis (flashback) narratively alters the chronological sequence in history. It refers us to the past.
  • Prolepsis (flashforward) is a jump forward in time, then returns to the present.


It uses verb-iconic language (verbal and iconic elements):

  • It uses transfer texts to relay (passing from one time to another) or anchor (passing from one space to another).
  • And also, it also uses diagonal texts (balloons) and onomatopoeia.
  • It resorts to the use of specific codes:
  • Bullets, balloons, movement indications, and gestural expressions
  • It is a mass communication medium.
  • Although social needs make it rather instructive, it intends to distract, which means that it seeks to leave teaching.
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Comic Types

  • There is no formal classification of comics, as even their vocabulary appears to be controversial.
  • Some reject the term to find closely linked to the ephemeral and banal origin Cartoon teen, proposing more sophisticated terms like Art s ecumenical (Will Eisner).
  • However, according to its publication format, it is usually spoken of:

1. Comic strips

  • Whether they come inserted in the newspaper (they still do) or inside magazines, or even in compilation books of a specific artist.
  • The comic strips respect the format that their name indicates.
  • They are a strip of three or more vignettes in which a short narrative represents, often similar to the joke.
  • Also, the gag or to the narration by installments, typical of the 19th century.
    Comics or comic magazines
  • Printed on higher or lower quality paper, but usually in full color, professionally finished, and in mass print runs, these are the classic bullet point magazines.
  • However, they are far from being just superheroes or extraordinary adventures.

2. Graphic novels

  • It is a broad and diverse category, the most formal, cultured, and demanding artistic proposals fit.
  • It is often for an informed public, willing to interpret them as a written or illustrated work of art.

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