A History of The Comic Strip
— in the Box!


by Pierre Couperie and Maurice C. Horn

preface by Milton Caniff

Introduction by Burne Hogarth

In the late 1960’s, there was an exhibit of comic strip art at The Louvre.

Yes. That Louvre.

As you might imagine, that was a watershed moment for comic strips.

Comic strips were much loved by the general public for the entire 20th Century and even seen as road to riches as some strips earned fantastic sums for their creators (and nothing gets people’s respect like wealth) but viewing them as art? That was likely a stretch for John Q. Public

This book, originally written in French, was the companion to the exhibit. Along with scholarly essays, the book is well-illustrated and explains the appeal of different strips as well as how the medium evolved. One can see how they would have influenced comic book creators.

Tarzan by Burne Hogarth

Tarzan by Burne Hogarth

But one of the interesting aspects is that almost no time is given to comic books, a close cousin of the comic strip. While it might seem reasonable to assume that the authors’ limits meant they had to narrow their focus, that’s not it. The book, when it does mention comic books, is condescending and dismisses them as trash. Considering that the stereotype is that Europe embraces comic books more seriously than North America, AND that the comic strip and comic book are share so many similarities, this is a stunning opinion coming from what I would have thought was a sympathetic audience.

Still, to a big degree, the history of the comic strip is the history of the comic book and this is a worthwhile read for any comic fan.

Prince Valiant by Hal Foster

Prince Valiant by Hal Foster

A History of The Comic Strip
by Pierre Couperie and Maurice C. Horn

Exhibition of comic strip art at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs / Palais du Louvre

Translated from the French. 1967 as Bande Dessinée et Figuration Narrative

Exhibition and book the effort of SOCERLID (Societé d’Etudes et de Recherches des Literatures Dessinées — Organization for the Study and Research of Pictorial Literatures)

This is the 4th printing. 1972.

Preface by Milton Caniff

Introduction by Burne Hogarth

From the late 15th century (woodcut with a word balloon appearing in a book — note the cover illustration, upper left) to the late 60s (then-present day).

Couperie taught at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes Historiques.
Horn wrote the American chapters — approximately half the book.

Other experts contributed to later chapters dealing with figuration and narrative technique.

Table of Contents
1. Background
2. The Origins of the Comic Strip
3. Period of Adjustment: 1910-1928
4. The Upheaval of the Thirties
5. The Crisis of the Forties: 1940-1948
6. The Regeneration of the Comic Strip
7. Production and Distribution
8. The Comic Strip Audience
9. The World of the Comic Strip
10. Narrative Technique
11. Esthetics and Signification
12. Narrative Figuration

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