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10 Best Comic Strips Of All Time | CBR – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Whether through slapstick humor, romance, or high adventure, the comic strip medium offers something for everyone.
Be it cave paintings in prehistoric Spain, hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt, or manga in modern Japan, visual storytelling has been an important part of human expression throughout history. For more than a century, American comic strips have captivated audiences of all ages. With only a handful of panels – or one in some cases – talented cartoonists have been able to create stories on a daily or weekly basis.
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Whether through slapstick humor, romance, or high adventure, the comic strip medium offers something for everyone. While new strips are still being created today, some of the very best have been the same for a long time.
Based on the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan retells the many adventures of the loincloth-sporting man raised by the Mangani great apes. Running from 1929 to 2002, the Tarzan daily and Sunday strips were written and drawn by a myriad of creators including Hal Foster, Gil Kane, Mike Grell, and Eric Battle.
Tarzan represents a fairly popular trend in comic strip history: the novel adaptation. By some metrics, pulp novels like Burroughs were replaced by the American comic books of later years. Consequently, the Tarzan comic strips marks an interesting transition.
Little Nemo in Slumberland was a weekly strip written and drawn by Winsor McCay. Every week the titular Nemo found himself in a spectacular adventure in his dreams before waking up in the last panel of each strip. In addition to stories implementing dream psychology, Little Nemo was revered for its art style. Nearly a century before the Image founders made waves, McCay was experimenting with dynamic perspective and panel composition.
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Little Nemo was also fascinating from a format standpoint. McCay was allowed an entire page to tell his flights of fancy. In modern newspapers, one page might be the home of the entire comics section.
Beetle Bailey is a military humor strip created by Mort Walker. Much like Gomer Pyle, USMC, and M*A*S*H that would appear a long time afterward, Beetle Bailey features a silly protagonist who – intentionally or otherwise – acts as a perpetual thorn in the side of their superior officer. It’s been a delight for readers for over seventy years.
Having started in 1950, Beetle Bailey is among the longest-running comic strips made by the original creator. Since Walker’s death in 2018, his three sons – who’d already assisted him since 1982 – have continued to make the strip.
While Web-Head may be one of the most famous superheroes in the world, too few fans have read his daily series. From 1977 to 2019, Spider-Man co-creator and face of Marvel Stan Lee wrote The Amazing Spider-Man strip with a swath of collaborators, which included John Romita Sr. and Lee’s brother Larry Lieber.
Comically accused of moving at a snail’s pace in the Spider-Verse comic, The Amazing Spider-Man still has interesting elements to offer. Other than a couple of storylines, Spider-Man told completely original stories with a continuity separate from the main Spider-Man publishing efforts. Lee and company also created brand new characters unique to the series such as Crimson Cloak and Ted Chambers.
Designed to compete with the science fiction juggernaut of the time, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon has become a legendary sci-fi title in its own right. Created by Alex Raymond, the strip follows the pulpy adventures of Flash and his myriad of companions on the planet Mongo.
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Flash Gordon‘s popularity has spawned multimedia iterations such as film serials, comic books, and multiple animated series. Famously, George Lucas wanted to make a film in the ’70s but – failing to acquire the rights – instead created his own space opera franchise.
Sporting his trademark yellow fedora and two-way wrist radio, police detective Dick Tracy has been busting criminals since 1931. Original creator Chester Gould’s propensity for not planning his stories out ahead of time kept his earliest readers in anxious anticipation for the next day’s story.
There was a newspaper delivery strike in New York City in the ’40s that kept comic strips out of fans’ hands. However, Dick Tracy was so popular that Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia actually read the strip over the radio. Tracy has since appeared in feature films, serials, and television.
Patrick McDonnell’s classic strip Mutts chronicles the adorable and hilarious friendship of Mooch and Earl. As Mutts is about the relationship between the anthropomorphized animals of the series, the relationship between animals and humans is just as important. A week of strips will often be devoted to an animal welfare cause, such as animal shelters or endangered species conservations.
In 2011, a film adaptation was in pre-production with McDowell himself co-writing the screenplay with his brother. Sadly, after a decade of issues, the development of the movie has ceased.
Made apparent by the latter entries of this list: animals and kids sell! Perhaps the most famous comic strip cat (sorry, Mooch) is lazy, lasagna-loving Garfield. Created in 1978, Jim Davis’ series about a disinterested, manipulative cat and his socially inept owner Jon continues to delight today.
Like many successful comic strips, the expansion of the Garfield brand into other media is quite immense. After only two years of publishing, Garfield made his television debut and has since appeared in a plethora of TV specials, a couple of feature films, and a handful of video games.
Poured from the mind of Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes is about an adventure-seeking boy and his stuffed tiger friend. Similar to Little Nemo, this legendary strip is a beautiful display of imagination and creativity. Whether through the intergalactic escapades of Spaceman Spiff or the super-heroics of  Stupendous Man, Watterson was able to craft any kind of story he could dream up.
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Perhaps most rewarding is the imagination Calvin and Hobbes inspires. Unlike many of his peers, Watterson has never licensed merchandise for his strip. This has motivated diehard fans to create their own projects – such as handmade Hobbes toys – to celebrate this masterpiece.
Peanuts might be the most recognizable newspaper comic strip ever. Created by Charles “Spark” Schulz, the classic story about a loveable loser and his friends ran for fifty years. Witty humor combined with sardonic melancholy made for a brilliant reflection of the human condition – all through the perspective of young kids.
In stark contrast to Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts is a merchandising machine. With a slew of TV specials, a feature film, and millions of Snoopy t-shirts and toys, Peanuts remains a huge money-making brand even decades after Schulz’s death.
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Haiden Sayne is a lifelong comics enthusiast from South Georgia, U.S. With a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Mass Media, Haiden is always thrilled to employ his passion for storytelling professionally. Explore his multimedia interests and creative projects at Haiden Sayne.

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