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Comic strip

A comic strip is a short strip or sequence of comic drawings, telling a story. Drawn by a cartoonist, they are published on a recurring basis (usually daily or weekly) in newspapers or on the internet. The comic strip began in 1865 in Germany with Max and Moritz, two trouble-making boys.

The great popularity of comics sprang from the newspaper war between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. The Little Bears (the first American comic with recurring characters), The Yellow Kid (the first color comic, part of the first Sunday comic section in 1897, and the root of the term "yellow journalism" ), and Katzenjammer Kids (the first American multipanel comic, with characters based on Max and Moritz) all debuted in the 1890s as part of the Hearst-Pulitzer struggle.

Mutt and Jeff became the first daily comic strip in 1907. Hundreds of comic strips have followed with many running for decades. Most comic strip characters stay the same age over a long period of time, but Lynn Johnston's award-winning For Better or For Worse characters age, an idea first seen in Gasoline Alley.

The advent of the Internet, and especially the World Wide Web, in the 1990s led to an explosion of amateur web comics, comic strips created solely for World Wide Web sites. These web comics differed from published comic strips, in that anyone could start his or her own comic strip and publish it on the Web; there was no longer any need to for a person to meet the approval of a publisher or syndicate. This led to the appearance of literally hundreds of web comics, most of which were (and still are) crudely drawn and sporadically updated. However, a number of web comics have endured, and the best web comics rival their newspaper and magazine counterparts in terms of quality and quantity.

The history of comic strips also includes instances that are not comic (that is, humorous), but tell a serious ongoing story. (There would seem to be a need for a better name for this type of "comic strip", but no alternative has gone the distance.) Sometimes these are spin-offs from comic books - Superman, Batman, and The Amazing Spider-Man comic strips have appeared in newspapers at various times - but there are also many created specifically as newspaper strips. Notable examples include Prince Valiant, The Phantom, and Modesty Blaise.

The world's longest comic strip is 88.9 metres long and on display at Trafalgar Square as part of the London Comedy Festival. The record was previously 81 metres and held in Florida. The London Cartoon Strip was created by fifteen of Britains best known cartoonists and depicts the History of London.

See also: List of comic strips, Cartoonists, Comic book, The Comic Strip, List of comic and cartoon characters

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