Comic Art, Creativity and the Law
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Comic Art, Creativity and the Law

Marc H. Greenberg

The creation of works of comic art, including graphic novels, comic books, cartoons and comic strips, and political cartoons, is affected, and at times limited, by a diverse array of laws, ranging from copyright law to free speech laws. This book examines how this intersection affects the creative process, and proposes approaches that encourage, rather than limit, that process in the comic art genre. Attention to the role comic art occupies in popular culture, and how the law responds to that role, is also analyzed.
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Chapter 3: A brief history of comic art

Marc H. Greenberg


At its core, art is a form of communication. As soon as humans developed to a point where they formed social groups, communication in the form of telling stories and sharing experiences became a key element of tribal communities. And it was in these early days of human experience that the impulse to create a visual image to help tell that story led to the birth of art. We take for granted, in our media-saturated age, that we process images as representing reality – a mental exercise that must have been, at an earlier point in our development, not an automatic response. Attorney and media entrepreneur John Carlin summarizes the birth of comics and their connection to this response as follows: The early development of comics is typically traced from Egyptian hieroglyphics through the illuminated manuscripts of mediaeval Europe up to the cheap illustrations which proliferated in the post-Renaissance era as a result of the invention of movable type … The earliest existing works of representation are the well-known depictions of animals found in cave paintings. It is noteworthy that the technique was that of the cartoon … Because we are so accustomed to representation, it is difficult to conceive of the original leap of the imagination that allowed images to stand for things and enabled the observer to respond to those images with his whole being. The cartoon continues to derive its effectiveness from this basic cathartic response.

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