The first sci-fi comic strip was a comedy called Mr Skygack from Mars by A. D. Condo, which appeared in the 1900s. The first sci-fi comic strip of a serious nature was Buck Rodgers in 1928, which was quickly followed by Flash Gordon, Brick Bradford, and Dan Dare from Britain. Since then Sci-fi comic books have spread throughout the world and there are many science fiction comic book authors creating more imaginative storylines making the genre incredibly popular to this day.
A high proportion of the first comics contained elements of sci-fi. Planet comic's "Superman" series brought in the super hero sci-fi sub-genre. EC Comics published sci-fi comics to great success in the 1950s and the storylines and concepts became more and more sophisticated. US sci-fi comics continued into the 1960s with comics aimed at both children and adolescents. Young adults became interested in the genre in the late 1960s with the wave of hippy underground comics.
The Japanese Manga comics originated in the 1950s and the first Manga sci-fi comic strip was Astro Boy by Osamu Tezuka. Since then Manga has become very popular all over the world. Not all Manga comics are sci-fi but the most well known, such as Ghost in the Shell and Akira are of the sci-fi genre.
Sci-fi graphic novels first appeared in the 60s and comic strips with a longer and more developed storyline. Graphic novels have the advantage of being able to portray specific concepts that would be difficult to put into words. Robots, time travel, virtual reality and mecha are popular concepts in sci-fi graphic novels. The graphic novel has become increasingly sophisticated in it's artistry and storylines and tend to be aimed more at adolescents and adults.
The most sci-fi comics in the USA are of the superhero sub-genre, and are incredibly popular all over the globe. DC comics and Marvel have produced some of the best known superheroes, including The Incredible Hulk, Spiderman, Thor and the Avengers. Many movies have been created from these superheroes. Superhero comics are considered sci-fi although they are usually set on earth in the present day.
Japanese Manga on the other hand tends to be set in the future or in an alternative universe. Manga is mostly known for Ghost in the Shell, which is set in the future, and Akira, which inspired the film "The Matrix". However, not all Manga is sci-fi
A common trend in sci-fi comics is to capture the zeitgeist of the time, especially with new technology and scientific discoveries. Many modern sci-fi comics and graphic novels use computer generated imagery for the artwork, and utilise software, such as photoshop, illustrator, coral and paintbucket. However, the classic sci-fi comics and graphic novels were drawn and inked by hand by an artist that works closely with the author.
Sci-fi is a very loose term and there are many sub-genres. Many have brought in new concepts, such as the cyberpunk idea in the graphic novel, Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis. Warren Ellis and other comic book authors use the medium to make a social commentary. Alan Moore's V for Vendetta is a classic example of this sci-fi sub-genre that makes a social statement set in a dystopian future.
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