Updated on 16 October, 2021
Comic Zap is an underground cartoon series that was first part of the underground counterculture of the mid 1960s. While some small-circulated independent comics were printed before this, Zap became the common model for what came to be known as the "comics" movement. Comic Zap was a weekly comic strip produced by artist Jack Kirby and ran in several cities in the United States, such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. It was a unique comic in that it showed a world outside of the normal and was presented with a humorous and irreverent point of view.
As such, the comic book industry and the artist who created it were forever linked. Many of today's most popular comic book creators would have never existed without the influence of Comic Zap. Today, many of the writers and creators of comics would never been able to imagine a world without comic strips like that. The impact that comic book readers had on the creation of some of today's top creators can hardly be denied.
Comic books were, at their start, a unique way for kids to learn to draw. They were an inexpensive and quick way to impart knowledge of ideas and concepts. For those who didn't live near a "super hero" or "dimensional villian," comic book art had a little more "real world" than just sticking pictures on a wall. Readers were drawn into the characters and the worlds created by the writers.
Comic strips were the perfect way for middle class Americans to get an in depth look at the lives of people who lived "down below" or for teenagers to understand the difference between "goody bags" and "bad boys." These comic strips were often strips that ran from week to week. One comic strip I remember as a child was called "Don't Take Me Alive." This comic strip depicted a boy who was being repeatedly murdered by a gang of skateboarders.
Throughout this series of strips the character was always being threatened by a group of "good guys" that would come to "take him away" if he did not stop tormenting the "gang of bad boys." Although it was very rare that anyone got killed during a strip, the danger was always there. Most of these cartoonists worked at least two weeks ahead of publishing their strip. To keep the readers "apprehended" they would change things constantly so that the threat would always be new and unique.
Comic strips and other forms of comic book art would never have been born without the tremendous influence of pulp magazine and the early comic book store clerk. Comic book stores were the first place aspiring artists would go to learn how to draw. Comic strip artists would not have been able to sustain their livelihoods if it weren't for store clerks that took them to learn the trade. It is unfortunate but true that many comic book store clerks and artist/comedians didn't receive a formal comic art education before they left high school and eventually became successful in the comic strip business.
Another important person of influence on cartoonists was William Gaines. William Gaines was an Irish cartoonist that worked for both DC comics and Charlton Comics. He was a very skilled cartoonist that was appreciated by his peers and had a studio in Ireland that produced all of his work. One of the most amazing things about William Gaines work was that while he was living in Los Angeles, he frequently went to visit his family in Ireland where his mother lived. He would bring his mother home on the strip and draw all of her famous cartoons in her home.
Charles Schultz became known as one of America's greatest cartoonists after creating the famed Peanuts gang. Charles Schultz was also an aspiring artist that somehow managed to find his way into the National Cartoon Club, which is now known as the hall of fame. This is an incredible amount of success for a cartoonist to have but also one that was achieved at the age of 24. He is currently working on a new TV series with Universal Studios. While it may not be as prestigious as the Peanuts series, it will most certainly be entertaining and we can only hope that Mr. Schultz surprises us all with this new project.