Before comic books, there were comic strips. In 1892, James Swinnerton published the first newspaper comic strip ever called "The Little Bears and Tigers," run by the San Francisco Examiner. The first successful comic series, though, was Richard Outcault's "Down in Hogan's Alley," which debuted July 7, 1895, in Joseph Pulitzer's New York World as a single picture of life in an urban slum. Its central character was "The Yellow Kid, who was bald, impish tyke with a knowing grin
The first strip to make regular use of speech balloons was Rudolph Dirks's "The Katzenjammer Kids," which first appeared in 1897. In 1906, the graphic artists Lyonel Feininger and Winsor McCay began to achieve a wonderful quality that went beyond the popular notion of cartooning. Feininger created two strips, "Wee Willie Winkie's World" and "The Kinder Kids," in a style that lay somewhere between Art Nouveau and expressionism. Winsor McCay, a master of Art Nouveau illustration, produced "The Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend" and "Little Nemo in Slumberland."
More comic strips followed. Soon, newspapers had sections dedicated to the things, featuring the adventures and escapades of Dick Tracy, Popeye the Sailor Man, Flash Gorden, Charlie Brown, and many more characters.
Later on, a select collection of these strips were reprinted in magazine format, becoming the first comic book in recorded history.