Who came before Superman and Archie? Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck, of course.
This from http://www.finebooksmagazine.com:
The earliest known sequential American comic book, published in 1842, was The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck, based on original material by Swiss writer/artist Rodolphe Töpffer. Originally published in Switzerland in 1837 under the title Les Amours de Mr. Vieux Bois (aka Histoire de Mr. Vieux Bois), the work was pirated, translated, and re-drawn by British publisher Tilt and Bogue in 1840. As noted early comics historian Robert Beerbohm noted, “In a world where international copyright conventions did not exist, this was perfectly legal, if morally questionable.” The British printing plates were re-used for the U.S. version, released by New York’s Wilson and Company in 1842.
“The significance of this incredible artifact is hard to overstate,” said Ed Jaster, Vice-President for Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries. “As the first American comic book, this seminal publication set the stage for a four-color revolution that would take hold almost a century later. It’s interesting to note that this copy is printed in black and white and bound with string, as both color printing and staples had yet to be invented!”
“This is an exceptional opportunity for collectors to acquire what is arguably the most significant comic book in existence,” Jaster said. “Less than a dozen copies have been confirmed to exist, several of which are owned by institutions and unlikely ever to be offered to the collecting public. Once gone, the opportunity to possess this rare volume may never come again.”
The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck – First Printing will be offered in Heritage Auction Galleries’ upcoming Comics Signature Auction, to be held May 3-5, 2007 in their Dallas, Texas world headquarters.