Töpffer, Rodolphe (rôdôlfˈ töpˈfər) [key], 1799–1846, Swiss artist and writer, b. Geneva. Often called the father of the comic strip (or the graphic novel), he wanted to be a painter but found it impossible due to bad eyesight. Beginning in 1827, he developed a style of enclosed cartoons with related captions beneath, the first such combination in Europe. His illustrations of spindly figures created with a thin, nervous line mix wild slapstick humor with social satire. Töpffer's seven picture stories of Swiss life became enormously popular and were imitated throughout Europe and the United States. He also was a journalist, professor, art critic, and short-story writer, and his travelogues of fanciful voyages through the Alps, e.g., Voyages en zigzag (1844), were popular.
See his complete comic strips (tr. by D. Kunzle, 2007); study by D. Kunzle (2007).