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Comic books -- History and criticism, Picture books for children, Children's literature -- History and criticism


When did speech bubbles first appear in children’s picture books? In what ways have speech bubbles been co-opted from comic books to serve picture book narratives? What does this example suggest about the future of children’s books co-opting the visual language of comic books? The visual language of comics has slowly permeated American popular culture since the first regular newspaper strip, Richard Felton Outcault's The Yellow Kid, back in 1895. From the onomatopoetic visuals in the campy '60s Batman television series and pop art paintings of Roy Lichtenstein, to the never-ending string of superhero-based blockbuster movies today, comics have been co-opted and adapted to almost every medium imaginable. One area slow to embrace the visual language of comics is perhaps the most similar in form in terms of its relationship between words and images: the children’s picture book. A closer look at the historically poor reception of comics by the gatekeepers of children's literature will illuminate the tension between comics and picture books, and underscore the innovation of fusion texts that meld elements from comics with picture books.


Paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of either the Master of Arts in Writing: Book Publishing, or the Master of Science in Writing: Book Publishing.

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