Elements of the form can be found in antiquity, where Vergil in the Aeneid describes a tapestry that retraces the events of the Trojan War. The Bayeux tapestry, from the Middle Ages, retraces the hostilities leading to the Battle of Hastings. Narrative strips, usually in the form of woodcuts, became a popular medium for the expression of religious and political ideas during the Reformation.
The immediate ancestor of the newspaper comic strip was the cartoon, especially popular in the late 19th cent. In the 18th and early 19th cent., the cartoons of William Hogarth and Thomas Rowlandson regularly included balloons; continuity was utilized by Rowlandson in his Tours of Dr. Syntax (1812–21). In France, Rudolph Töpffer, a contemporary of Rowlandson, created albums of long, rambling strips. In the late 19th cent. the strips of Christophe (Georges Colomb) were published throughout the country in pamphlet form. The first strip with a regular cast of characters was Wilhelm Busch's Max und Moritz (1865), which appeared originally in periodicals and later as separate publications. The first British strip with a recurrent character was Ally Sloper, by Charles Ross and Marie Duval (1867–76); Tom Browne's Weary Willie and Tired Tim reached the British public in the 1890s.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.