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Serials to Graphic NovelsThe Evolution of the Victorian Illustrated Book$
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Catherine J. Golden

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062297

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062297.001.0001

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The Pickwick Papers and the Rise of the Serial

The Pickwick Papers and the Rise of the Serial

(p.19) 1 The Pickwick Papers and the Rise of the Serial
Serials to Graphic Novels

Catherine J. Golden

University Press of Florida

Beginning in April 1836 and concluding with a double number in November 1837, Charles Dickens’s The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club—a sequence of comic adventures with caricature-style illustrations initially by Robert Seymour and subsequently by Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz)—came out in nineteen illustrated instalments for the cost of a shilling each. An unprecedented publishing phenomenon, Pickwick Papers attracted fans across the social classes, generated a host of Pickwick-related products, and earned glowing reviews. “The PickwickPapers and the Rise of the Serial” offers a synthetic reading of reviews by Dickens’s contemporaries and work by past and recent critics who have acknowledged Pickwick’s importance to the rise of the illustrated serial. Chapter one examines interwoven factors that contributed to Pickwick’s popularity, including the growth of commodity culture, a rise in literacy, new printing technologies, serialization, and the appeal of reading pictures, particularly humorous ones. The blend of comic appeal, theatricality, and social commentary led to the serial’s success, and, in the process, created a mass market for new fiction with illustration.

Keywords:   caricature, serial, comic appeal, commodity culture, Dickens, Pickwick Papers, Seymour, Browne, Phiz, mass market

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