Comic Books

A source of entertainment for both kids and adults. The nice graphics and the catching story, the continuous battle between good and evil, the inner feelings of the main character, the funny conversations or depicted situations, the drama, the action, the comedy, ahhh...

Comic books give many of us a great way to relax, to forget about the mundane things and return to that time of our life when superheroes and super villains were real and they used their powers to fight each other. It the time when kids look for idols and role models. People they want to be. It's the time of happiness and inner peace when you don't feel the everyday worries and stress. I think that's mainly one of the reasons adults still enjoy reading them. It gives them back something they lost or they don't want to lose: their childhood.

Believe it or not but, but the first known comic book appeared in Europe in 1837 and was published in several languages. It's name was "The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck" and it was a lot different than the comic books we know today. Back then there were no balloons, the text being situated under the panels, describing the story. There were more like books than comics, but those are the pioneers. The first comic books were published like part of a magazine. Soon the newspapers noticed the increased attraction in the phenomenon and started to publish short stories as a weekend bonus. In 1897 "The Yellow Kid in McFadden's Flats" comes out, introducing the phrase"comic book" printed on the back cover and the balloon as a mean to show what the characters are saying. For a while, this was considered to be the first comic book. Thus the basis of the industry was created.

The first real monthly comic book("Comics Monthly") was printed in 1922 and lasted for 12 months. Walt Disney released in 1931 the first Mickey Mouse comic book named "The Adventures of Mickey Mouse". After that several others followed. Around this period characters like Flash Gordon, Dick Tracy and Tarzan made their appearance in comic books. Different companies sponsored or ordered comic books to promote their name or products, increasing people's attraction for this kind of literature.

In 1938 "Action Comics #1" comes out and the world is changed forever. Why you ask? What was so special about this comic? It featured Superman. Yes people, that's how old Superman is. This was the first time ever the main character of the book has amazing powers, like bouncing bullets of his chest, flying, running faster than a train, leaping buildings and other cool stuff. Superman was the first in a long line of heroes end villains that had supernatural powers. A year later another great hero is created, Batman. Allthough he doesn't have any super powers, he has great gadgets and he's a man with secrets and tragedies in his life, not as pure as Superman.

A sad chapter in this history is Dr. Fredric Werthham, a psychologist that considered comic books to be bad for children. He started a seven year study on the effects of the comics on children. In 1954 he published "Seduction of the Innocent", in which he states that these are a major cause of juvenile delinquency and that children got wrong ideas about life, the laws of physics and social status. In 1954 the "Comics Code Authority"(CCA) was created following an U.S. Senate investigation in which Werthham was called to testify. This way the comic book companies had to follow a set of guidelines. The ones that qualified received the approval stamp. Many comics went out of, mainly horror ones business. Others transformed into magazines, the CCA having no authority over them. With time the approval stamp got smaller and smaller. These days the CCA lost it's importance and comics may or may not have the approval. It makes no difference.

Shortly after, comics got back on track. Many more superheroes were created by both DC Comics and Marvel: Conan The Barbarian, The Fantastic Four, Daredevil, The X-Men, Hulk, Iron-Man, Spiderman to name just a few. New stories and new adventures were invented. The 70's changed the way comics were created. They took a more serious approach and touched issues as drug abuse, pollution and racism. The characters and stories became more complex to reflect the changes in the social climate. At first they were not approved by the CCA, but seeing the support from the public their guidelines changed. This in turn gave the opportunity to create new comics that were previously denied by the CCA.

In my opinion comics have kept up with the new trends in media. In fact movies have been and continue to be released featuring famous Marvel and other heroes. Great titles like "Blade", "Hulk", "X-Men", "X2: X-Men United", "X3: The Last Stand", "Daredevil", "Fantastic Four", "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer", "Spiderman" 1,2 and 3, "Ghostrider" and so many others continue to hold a top place in the box office, reviving or creating new adventures for our heroes. Cartoons also make people aware of the complexity of the characters and their background, bringing back to life their old stories in an animated and revamped way.

Whatever other people might say, you're never too old for comic books. It's actually like learning history. Old comics and heroes have been around longer than many of us. And they most certainly have a greater history than many of the contemporary literature characters. Just reading all those comic books is like reading entire novels, spanning over almost a century and depicting the social environment and events of the time. They are more that just drawings. They are truly a form of art.

Graffiti. Art?

Wikipedia: Graffiti (singular: "graffito," although the plural is more common) is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, or more usually spray-painted on property that does not belong to the artist. Graffiti is often regarded by others as unsightly damage or unwanted vandalism.

Most of us already knew that. But what I didn't knew was that graffiti has such a longer history. Apparently it's been around since ancient times, being found in Greek(Ephesus) and Roman cities (Pompeii), as well as Mayan (Tikal), viking and varangian. During Renaissance, many of the great artists of the time carved or painted their names on the ruins of Nero's Domus Arena, thus giving birth to the grottesche style of decoration.

Although many people associate modern graffiti with hip-hop culture, graffiti predates it and has it's own culture and history. It seems that modern graffiti appeared around 1969 and reached it's peak in the mid 70's. Most of the places it was found at that time was on train and subway wagons. Some of the most notable names from that time are Stay High 149, Hondo 1, Phase2, Stitch 1, Joe 136, Junior 161, Cay 161, Barbara 62 and Eve 62. Taki 183, even if he is not the first graffiti artist, he is the first that attracted media attention.

In the period between late 1970's and early 1980's new forms and styles of graffiti developed. After 1985 it started to stagnate and because of several actions took by the US Government and the Transit Authority, who wanted to remove all traces of graffiti from their train wagons, it started to "move to the streets". This way modern graffiti, the one that each and everyone of us knows, is created.

But is graffiti a form of art? It certainly has been used for more than just defacing public or private property. Since ancient graffiti appeared, it's been used to send a message to others, being of political, social or personal nature. In modern time graffiti is used for showing others that the author has been there, much like marking territory. It's been also used for transmitting political messages, expressing an opinion, approval or disapproval for a new law, decree or election. Messages like "stop the war!" or "make piece!" are present in many of these pieces. Thus the author is expressing something through his creation. Isn't that art?

If you still disagree, know that artists like Crash, Daze and Lady Pink have their works exposed in the Brooklyn Museum, as part of the "contemporary art" gallery. Australian art historians ranked some of their local graffiti as visual art. Oxford University Press states in their "Australian Painting 1788-2000" states that graffiti has a key place in contemporary visual culture.

Still not convinced? I can't blame you. Seeing a beautiful white wall filled with awful writings is horrible. But if you see a boring white wall decorated with beautiful graphics and colors, showing a strong message that you agree with is awesome. And just so you don't have a narrow view on the entire subject, you can visit Wikipedia and find out more information about graffiti (this post was largely based on information found there). For a huge graffiti gallery, you can visit or

The beauty of fractals

A friend of mine told me a few years ago that instead of a classic desktop background, he prefers a fractal image. I had no idea what a fractal is and I didn't give it to much attention. After a while I saw a book about fractals. The colorful drawings on the cover drew my attention :) I started to read it and I remained astonished. The complexity that a simple mathematical function can generate and the beauty of the designs that can come out of that left me speechless. I afterwards realized that I knew the principles of how a fractal works long before. Ever heard of "recursive"? It's a programming term used when a function calls on itself. That's mainly how fractals work. They repeat the same function a number of given times or, if you wish, an infinite number of times. But that will most surely crash your computer eventually. This way the pattern it draws is the same every time, but the position, size, direction, color or other attributes it has may differ.

So what is the definition of a fractal anyway? Well, according to Wikipedia, a fractal is "a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be subdivided in parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole". Got that? To put it simple, if you zoom in on a portion of a fractal, no matter how many times, you see approximately the same pattern, over and over again. Voila. The best graphical representation of infinity.

The term of "fractal" was given by BenoƮt B. Mandelbrot, also known as the "father of fractal geometry". One of the most popular fractals bears his name, the Mandelbrot set.

Fractals also seem to be present in nature, but they are an approximate and finite form. You can find them in clouds, snow flakes, crystals, lightning, ferns, broccoli, cauliflower and even blood vessels.

But what are they good for, other than beautiful and colorful graphics? They're good for a lot of things. The fact that nature uses them in so many situations proves that a fractal is something that offers great advantages. But they are also used in domains such as art(computer generated, African art, painting), signal and image compression, seismology, computer and video game design, medicine and so many others.

The fractals have been around for such a long time and people have come across constantly. Thanks to the introduction of computers, they are now more accessible to everyone and a real science has developed to study and better understand them. This way we'll see them applied in more and more areas. The possibilities that they offer are endless.

Sidewalk drawings

Do you remember when you were kids we used to draw on the sidewalk, using colored chalk? Those were great times. I remember there were drawing contests and kids were drawing all sorts of flowers, people and houses. We would finish a box of chalk faster than a bag of candy. It seems that drawing on the concrete is a lot funnier that drawing on paper. But that was a long time ago.

Still there are people that don't seem to have gotten over it. And even more, they took it to the next level. Julian Beever is one of those people. He managed to turn "pavement drawings" into a real form of art, creating stunning graphics. Using a special drawing method, he creates the illusion of 3D.


The downside is that you have to look at them from a particular angle, otherwise you notice the distortion that is needed to create the effect.

Pool - Wrong viewGlobe - Wrong view

For these and other great graphics created by Julian Beever, you can visit his website.