It could not be said better than with the introductory words of acclaimed comics expert and organiser of Comica, Paul Gravett:
‘In the beginning…’
When it comes to the birth of comics, like the birth of the cosmos, it’s still open to speculation. The Book of Genesis might open with ‘In the beginning was the word’, but it seems more than likely that ‘In the beginning was the picture’. Or at least a picture which served as a word, a visual vehicle for representation and meaning. Mankind surely drew before we could write, but why make a distinction anyway? After all, the Chinese use the same word to mean both writing and drawing. And we know that many letter or word forms began as codified shorthand drawings of what they represented. We can only guess what the very first drawings looked like on the rocky walls of our very first art galleries, cinemas, decorated temples or stained-glass-windowed cathedrals, namely our earliest ancestors’ cosy, craggy caves. Most probably they included a life-size hand, daubed, smacked and printed straight onto the rock, and perhaps a simplified version of man himself, reduced to a symbolic, talismanic stick figure, the proto-cartoon or ur-comic.