Publication of comic strips and comic books focusing on science fiction became increasingly common during the early 1930s in newspapers published in the United States. They have since spread to many countries around the world.
The first science-fiction comic was the gag cartoon Mr. Skygack, from Mars by A.D. Condo, which debuted in newspapers in 1907. The first non-humorous science-fiction comic strip, Buck Rogers, appeared in 1929, and was based on a story published that year in Amazing Stories. It was quickly followed by others in the genre, notably Flash Gordon, Brick Bradford, and the British strip Dan Dare. This influence spread to comic books, in which science-fiction themes became increasingly more popular; one notable title was Planet Comics. With the introduction of Superman, the superhero genre was born, which often included science-fiction elements.
In the 1950s, EC Comics had great success and popularity in publishing science-fiction comics of increasing complexity. However, a wave of anti-comic feeling stirred-up among parents and educators by Dr. Fredric Wertham’s book Seduction of the Innocent threatened to drive them out of business. In spite of opposition, science fiction in comics continued in the U.S. through the 1960s with stories for children and teenagers, and began to return to the adult market again in the late 1960s with the wave of hippy underground comics.
Japanese manga also featured science-fiction elements. In the 1950s, Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy was one of the first major manga that centered around science fiction. In the following decades, many other creators and works would follow, including Leiji Matsumoto (e.g. Galaxy Express 999), Katsuhiro Otomo (e.g. Akira) and Masamune Shirow (e.g. Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell).
In the UK, the publication of Eagle gave a platform for the launch of Dan Dare in 1950. Starting in the mid-sixties,The Trigan Empire, drawn by Don Lawrence (who would later go on to create Storm) was featured in Look and Learn. In the 1970s, publications, such as 2000 AD, featured a selection of regular stories putting a science-fiction spin on popular themes, like sports or war. Its success spawned a number of spin-offs in imitators like Tornado, Starlord, and Crisis, none of which lasted more than a few years, with the earlier titles being merged back into 2000 AD.
A science-fiction graphic novel is a full-length book that uses images necessarily to depict a story of a fictional nature that explores different/future time lines, theoretical societies, technology and/or both.
The first recorded usage of the term, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), is in 1978 by Will Eisner: “A contract with God: and other tenement stories… A graphic novel”, though graphic novels existed for years prior. While predating the term, a graphic novel based on science fiction, Astro Boy, by Osamu Tezuka, was published in 1951, starring a childlike robot Astro Boy who was activated in the year 2003.