Dealer Robert Beerbohm appears to have found a copy of a French comic book from either 1844 or 1856, called The History of Mr. Tuberculus. Sean Kleefeld notes:

I think it’s worth noting primarily because so many comic fans think the history of comic books starts with Famous Funnies in 1933 with perhaps an occasional nod to the first appearance of the Yellow Kid in 1894. But this book dates considerably earlier, obviously, and bears most of the hallmarks commonly attributed to comics. (Perhaps the only one missing, in fact, is the word balloon which certainly isn’t a requirement to be considered comics.)

The comic is by famed caricaturist Lobrichon, and provides a nice reminder of the older era of word/picture collaboration, which has really been going on since people figured out the written word.


  1. I would like to point out that Lobrichon rejoiced in the given name of Timoléon.

    This is such a beautiful comic, looking like Töpffer’s Obadiah Oldbuck in format. I love M. Tuberculus’ nose. Very Gallic.

  2. Scott McCloud cites Rodolphe Töpffer (1799-1846) as the father of the modern comic book. Rodolphe “was the son of painter Wolfgang Adam Töpffer, a German emigrant who had settled in Geneva, Switzerland” (quotation from Lambiek.net: http://lambiek.net/artists/t/topffer.htm).

    Of course, the comics form itself is many centuries old. It can be traced to Egyptian paintings from before 1300 B.C. and possibly even to prehistory cave paintings.

  3. Kim Munson clued me into this thread appearing here. If I may, I would direct people to the Victorian, Platinum and “Origin of the Modern Comic Book” articles I have been growing there since OPG #27 1997. Started out at 15 pages, the last few years have seen the section I compile grow to 72 pages now.

    The Victorian Era of American comic books is well documented now that the first American comic book is Obadiah Oldbuck by Topffer as Brother Jonathan Extra #9 Sept 14 1842 by Wilson & Co New York City. One can see the cover and sample page in OPG #39 page 323 which my research confirms was in print in New York City as late as 1904, according to a New York Times article I discovered from that year

    Fourteen years running they have asked me back to document proper comics history from which to learn where all this came form.

    The printed comic book originates with Topffer Geneva Switzerland in 1828 when the first concepts of lithography printing came about.

    This Tuberculus by Lobrichon caused quite a stir amongst my Euro friends when I brought it to one of “Plat” lunches at the CNBDI lunches we held at the CNBDI cafe when I was still able to travel.

    It is evidently quite rare. I scored this at a small bookshop on Florance following a Lucca comicon I was a guest at back in 1998 to show my Italian friends the first American comic book, Oldbuck.

    If you read thru the Overstreet Price Guide articles I have been compiling with some comics historian friends also interested in this early stuff, you, too, can become almost an expert over night

    Any further queries are welcome, and I will try to answer to the best of my abilities

    Robert Beerbohm
    Co-Moderator: http://www.yahoogroups.com/subscribe/PlatinumAgeComics