Dragons: A History of Mythology and BeliefsWritten by Johann Erickson
The oldest culture in world to utilize dragons in their mythology and beliefs, are Chinese. For them, dragon is a divine, mythical creature that brings good fortune, prosperity and bounty. It is symbol of emperors and imperial rule, and its legends have shaped a good portion of modern Chinese culture.
The dragon is a positive force, and represents power, excellence, and striving for goals, as well as being a benevolent force, which radiates goodwill, good luck, and blessings. Shrines to them can be found in many places in China, usually near sea, since Eastern dragons tended to be water creatures.
In Eastern culture, dragon represents essential forces of Nature. While Emperors consulted them as revered advisors, they did not always follow that advice, and consequently dragons’ anger would either produce storms and floods though clouds they breathed out, or such things as water shortages, when they beat their tails about, and emptied lakes and rivers. A dragon’s celestial breath, known as sheng chi, bestows warmth from sun, wind from ocean, soil from Earth, and water from rain.
The number nine figures in many aspects of dragon worship in Chinese culture, for example, nine ways in which they are shown:
In Western culture, dragon developed a very different persona, which many aficionados claim is misinterpretation of tales in which their stories are told. Where Eastern dragons are perceived as good and benevolent, western dragons are all fire, and flinging their tails about, and biting heads off. In reality, if you read a broad range of literature from both hemispheres, you’ll find that eastern dragons sometimes took a notion to be bad characters, and in west, there are
- On screws of fiddles because they are said to like music
- On top of bells and gongs, because they call out loudly
- On bottom of stone statues, since dragons can support heavy weights
- On top of writing tablets, because dragons are fond of literature
- On bridges, because dragons are associated with water
- On eaves of temples, because dragons guard against danger
- On Buddha’s throne, where dragons rest
- On prison gates, which represent trouble-making dragons
- On hilt of swords, because dragons can slaughter their enemies
How Did the Comic Book Get It's Start?Written by Dave Gieber
The origins of comic book are somewhat controversial and perhaps jury is still out. So lets go back to cartoonish broadsheets of Middle Ages, which were parchment products, created by anonymous woodcutters. As mass circulation of these broadsheets became possible, they soon developed a market, particularly at public executions, popular events for centuries (ugh), which drew thousands of happy spectators. Many of these spectators would invest in an artist's rendering of a hanging or burning, and thus making a very lucky day for broadsheet seller.
The broadsheet evolved into higher-level content as humor was introduced. Eventually, all types of broadsheets emerged, which were eventually bound in collections, prototype of modern magazine. Magazines formatted like popular Punch, an elegant British creation, became primary focus of documentary accounts of news and events, fiction and humor. One can see in Punch, sophisticated evolution of a comic style, particularly in respect of evolution of comics in Great Britain. Still and all, from an historical standpoint, comic strip stood in alley, waiting to be born. And then some say Great Britain's Ally Sloper's "Half Alley" was first comic book. This was a black and white tabloid that had panels of cartoons mixed with a sliver of news; circa 1884.
Now while all this was going on in Great Britain, this inching towards comic book, United States had its own brand of evolution. Instead of magazines, US newspapers took lead in creating comic book industry. Newspapers, with their first steps, took their single image gags and evolved them into multi-paneled comic strips. It was during this period that William Randolph Hearst scored a knockout with Yellow Kid, which was actually printed in yellow ink.