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Rodolphe Töpffer - The Complete Comic Strips

Rodolphe Töpffer

The Complete Comic Strips

Edited by David Kunzle
Compiled by David Kunzle
Notes by David Kunzle
Translated by David Kunzle
Hardcover : 9781578069460, 672 pages, 376 line illustrations, April 2007

The first English-language edition of the premier comic artist’s work


Among the many accomplishments in art and literature by Genevan Rodolphe Töpffer (1799–1846), his virtual invention of the comic strip, or graphic novel, stands out as the most surprising, curious, and to us, after a century inundated by comic strips, by far the most significant.

This volume is the first English-language version of the Töpffer comics oeuvre and includes (unlike previous French and German editions) all of his eight full-length stories, plus previously unpublished fragments of stories started and abandoned and manuscript segments omitted in the printed versions. Comics scholar Kunzle translates the captions from the French, gives essential biography and chronology, and appends socio-political contexts for all the stories with explanation of references obscure today. He deals with questions of dating and the differences among manuscript, printed version, and the various editions. He also lists the plagiaries, translations, and adaptations in other media.

Töpffer's complete comic strip output, combined with Kunzle's annotative material and analyses, makes this volume one of the most significant works of comics history to be published and reestablishes Töpffer's seminal place in the comics canon.


"The recent legitimization of the comic strip has brought plenty of vintage-strip reprintings and analyses of the medium. David Kunzle offers volumes of both devoted to the nineteenth-century Swiss artist who may have invented the comic strip. Rodolphe Töpffer (1799–1846), whose work remains interesting also for the insight into its era that it affords, used many devices associated with comics, as the massive Rodolphe Töpffer: The Complete Comic Strips shows. Narratives consist of sequential arrays of cartoonish, simplified illustrations separated by panel borders. Töpffer didn't use word balloons, but each drawing is captioned. Pictures or words alone wouldn't suffice to tell the story—and that constitutes one very recognizable definition of comics. The eight stories in the book combine wild slapstick and droll social commentary as they relate the humorous exploits of such eccentrics as Mr. Jabot, who wreaks havoc at a society ball; Mr. Crepin, who oversees the education of his brood of unruly children; and Dr. Festus, who travels the world, leaving disaster in his wake."

- Gordon Flagg, Booklist

"Kunzle’s books bring the comics of yesteryear magically back to life. If you take the time to read them, you’ll be transported to a nineteenth-century playground where painters, illustrators, and early cartoonists built an industry that continues to thrive today."

- Michael Taube, syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor,