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Who was one of the most versatile artists of the Art Nouveau Movement?

Victor Horta
Vincent Van Gogh
Emile Gallé
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Art Nouveau
by Uta Hasekamp

Art Nouveau was a phenomenon with many faces. Between 1890 and 1910, artists developed a variety of styles from the plant-like forms of the Belgian-French Art Nouveau to the ornamentation of the Viennese Secession. They were all striving to create a new, modern style and pursued a comprehensive renewal of art and, in some countries, a renewed national identity.

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Art Nouveau—
Goodbye Art-Academy

Although the Art Nouveau style wasn’t around for a long time, its influence affected every form of art, from architecture to pottery to furniture design and even glass and pottery. This short video gives a brief overview of the Movement.

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La Plume Poster Alphonse Mucha

Marvelous Superheroes
by Bob Brooke


Blockbuster movies featuring a spider man, a raging green hulk, a group of mutant humans, and a man blinded by radioactive waste brought about a resurgence in comic book collecting. And with The Hulk, X-Men, Spiderman, and Wonderwoman bursting onto the big screen, there’s a renewed interest in pulp fiction heroes.

The superhero movies are pretty faithful to their comic book roots. American comic books trace their roots back to 1933 when a syndicated newspaper published part of its Sunday comic's page on 7 by 9 inch plates. Eastern Printing employees Max Gaines and Harry Wildenberg believed two such plates could fit a tabloid-size page, producing a 7 by 10-inch book when folded. The two took newspaper strips and reprinted them in a booklet titled Funnies On Parade, which Proctor & Gamble Co. used as a premium.

Gaines convinced Eastern executives he could sell similar books to large advertising firms. Eastern then produced and distributed Famous Funnies and Century of Comics. Both were a resounding success.

Surprised with the popularity of the giveaway comics, Gaines believed children would purchase the comic if it were reasonably priced. Eastern printed Famous Funnies Series One to sell in retail stores for 10 cents. It immediately sold out, becoming the first monthly comic and continued in production until 1955.

Early comic books featured nothing more than reprinted material. In 1935 New Fun became the first comic to break the "reprinted material" barrier, by featuring the antics of Oswald the Rabbit.

The comic book industry took a gigantic leap forward in June 1938 when a man in blue and red tights took the industry by storm. In 1938, the first issue of Action Comics showcased the amazing feats of Superman. Just as his flying abilities allowed him to leap tall buildings in a single bound, this power also catapulted him to the top of the sales list.

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman in 1933. They tried to market their character to every newspaper syndicate but all rejected them. They waited five years to find a buyer and signed a contract with Artist Bob Kane who modeled his creation on drawings of Leonardo da Vinci's flying machines. Da Vinci even inspired Batman's name. He wrote, “Remember that your bird should have no other model than the bat." Although Batman had no superpowers, he appealed to young readers. He wore a costume. He was smart. And he used an assortment of tech gadgets.

The Spring of 1940 witnessed the birth of Batman with the publishing of Batman No. 1. The Joker and Cat Woman also appeared for the first time in the inaugural edition.

Other main characters made their appearances in issues of Detective Comics before crossing over to the Batman title. Robin, the Boy Wonder, debuted in Detective Comics No. 38. The Penguin made his first appearance in Detective Comics No. 58. And Robin made history in 1988 when fans voted to have him killed-off. Detective Comics later became known as DC.

In the fall of 1939, Timely Comics published Marvel Comics No. 1. This comic contained the first appearances of The Human Torch. Timely would eventually become Marvel Comics, who along with DC dominated the comic book publishing industry for years.

Captain America made his debut in March 1941. He appeared in his own comic right from the start, something unheard of to this point. Previously, all new characters appeared in another comic before being granted their own title. This way, publishers could gauge reader reaction via comic sales to see if the new character would be viable on his own. Captain America began his career fighting Nazis months before America declared war.

In the spring of 1941, Wonder Woman appeared on newsstands followed by Captain Marvel and The Green Lantern. By the end of that year, over 150 different comic titles appeared on newstands.

World War II had a dramatic effect on the comic book industry. Dell published the first war comic, appropriately titled War Comics No. 1. Many super-heroes rushed into the armed forces to battle the enemy. Commando Yank, Major Victory, Jungle Jim, Spy Smasher and The Unknown Soldier all played hero to many teens on the home front.

The 1940s saw the creation of two teen idols. After debuting in Pep Comics, Archie Andrews was given his own comic title in 1942. Archie continues to draw a large following of teenage readers. Katy Keene made her first appearance in Wilbur Comics in 1945. Following appearances in three other comics, the beauty queen was given her own title in 1950.

With the end of World War II came the desire for change. Adventure writers were having problems developing new plots, while humor writers found it hard to be funny after a conflict that saw the loss of millions of lives. With the industry unable to rejuvenate itself, publishers had to create new titles, categories and formats.

One genre that found success at the end of the 1940s was the western comic. In 1948 comic publisher Fawcett had a huge hit with its Hopalong Cassidy title. Other publishers scrambled to take advantage of the new genre. All American Western, Annie Oakley, and The Two-Gun Kid all rode onto newsstands with the fury of a desperado cornered in a dead end canyon.

With the down of the 1950s, comic book readership continued to decline. Even Superman was faltered. But comic book publishers continued to press on. In an attempt to regain customers, several publishers turned to violence.

The Silver Age of comics began in 1956 with the publication of Showcase No. 4 featuring the adventures of The Flash—the fastest man alive. This character had the same name and same powers as his golden age counterpart, but the stories were completely different.

Marvel comics introduced a superhero team in November 1961 with Fantastic Four No. 1. The title's main characters obtained their super powers when their spacecraft traveled though a cosmic storm.

The most recognized Marvel superhero first scurried across the pages of Amazing Fantasy 15 in August 1962. Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, was a geeky high school student who attained the traits of an arachnid when a radioactive spider bit him. In March 1963, Spider-Man received his own title when The Amazing Spider-Man No. 1 came out.

Spider-Man has been the subject of several controversial stories. In the early 1970s, a Spider-Alan story was published that showcased the harmful effects of drugs. Two years later, The Amazing Spider-Man #121 shocked the comic world when Spiderman's girlfriend was murdered.

Marvel's next superhero was the result of exposure to radiation. The Incredible Hulk No. 1 burst onto newsstands featuring the exploits of Dr. Bruce Banner.

The 1970s arrived with the birth of Conan the Barbarian, The Swamp Thing, and The Micronauts. Major publishers reprinted the most valuable comic titles from the past. However, unscrupulous dealers stripped them of their covers and sold them as originals.

With new titles being canceled as fast as they originated, publishers were hard pressed to find original ideas that would captivate and hold readers. Most collectors today search for certain writers and artists and follow them as they move from title to title.

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