From the cartoons such as Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes that have long livened up the daily newspaper to the graphic novels of more recent vintage such as  Watchmen and Maus, comics have proven to be a wonderfully expansive form of American art. Comics can provide readers with a quick laugh or a deep journey, and they can enchant young and old alike. 

In tribute, LIFE.com offers vintage photos of men, women and children disappearing into the comics. From the young girl waiting outside the Anchorage supermarket to the soldiers on a break in Korea, having a comic in your hand meant that your imagination had a place to go.

Also included in the gallery are images of hearings in 1954 held by the U.S. Senate over whether a certain stripe of violent comics were contributing to juvenile delinquency. The hearings led to the comics industry adopting its own ratings system. Another photo in this gallery shows  Henry A. Wallace, who served as Vice President under Franklin Roosevelt from 1941 to 1945, examining the funny pages while dressed in a suit, a reminder of how comics have enjoyed a truly broad appeal.

A sailor read a comic book aboard the USS Doran in 1942.

Thomas McAvoy/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

A mother reads her children the comics while traveling on the "El Capitan" train between Chicago and Los Angeles, 1945.

A mother read her children the comics while traveling on the “El Capitan” train between Chicago and Los Angeles, 1945.

Sam Sher/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

A young boy read a comic strip while his leash-tethered dog waited forlornly for their walk to continue, 1944.

Nina Leen/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Former Vice President and Secretary of Commerce Henry A. Wallace read the comics, 1946.

Walter B. Lane/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

A Turkish soldier looks at an American comic book with a Korean girl during the Korean War, 1951.

A Turkish soldier looked at an American comic book with a Korean girl during the Korean War, 1951.

Carl Mydans/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

A boy escaped from his haircut, Garden City, New York, 1942.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Religious comic books, 1943.

Religious comic books, 1943.

Walter Sanders/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Private Ernest Dandou reads a comic book at paratrooper camp, Georgia, 1944.

Private Ernest Dandou read a comic book at paratrooper camp, Georgia, 1944.

Frank Schersche/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

A young girl reads a comic book at an Anchorage, Alaska, supermarket in 1958.

A young girl read a comic book at an Anchorage, Alaska, supermarket in 1958.

Dmitri Kessel/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Actress Buff Cobb (one-time wife of journalist Mike Wallace) reads comic books at home in 1946.

Actress Buff Cobb (one-time wife of journalist Mike Wallace) read comic books at home in 1946.

Martha Holmes/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Two Dutch children read comic books in 1953, Netherlands.

Two Dutch children read comic books, Netherlands, 1953.

Nat Farbman/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Comic book artist Bob Kane, who created Batman, poses with his iconic illustrations, 1966.

Comic book artist Bob Kane, who created Batman, posed with his iconic illustrations, 1966.

Yale Joel/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

The 1954 Senate Subcommittee Hearings into Juvenile Delinquency focused on the “dangers” posed by comic books.

Yale Joel/ Life Pictures/Shutterstock

The 1954 Senate Subcommittee Hearings into Juvenile Delinquency focused on the “dangers” posed by comic books.

Yale Joel/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Boys shopped for comic books, 1945

Nina Leen/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Cartoonist Chester Gould sitting on wall beside cemetery where he "buried" vanquished villains from his "Dick Tracy" comic strip, 1949.

Cartoonist Chester Gould sat on a wall beside a cemetery where he “buried” vanquished villains from his “Dick Tracy” comic strip, 1949.

Francis Miller/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Small boys read comic books during a speech by Dwight Eisenhower in Montana, 1952.

These boys read comic books during a speech by Dwight Eisenhower in Montana, 1952.

Ralph Morse/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

A Turkish boy (center) rents out comic books to local children to support his family in the Philippines in 1945.

A Turkish boy (center) rented out comic books to local children to support his family in the Philippines in 1945.

Carl Mydans/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

American troops read comic books during the Korean War, 1951.

American troops read comic books during the Korean War, 1951.

John Dominis/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Lieutenant Frank Hensley read a comic book after loading cargo on plane, 1950.

Joseph Scherschel/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

A father readsthe Sunday comics to his daughter, 1946.

Nina Leen/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Reading a comic book while traveling on a Pullman car, 1945.

Sam Shere/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Reading the comics, Detroit, 1943.

Walter Sanders/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

More Like This

arts & entertainment

Before She Was Catwoman: Julie Newmar in LIFE

arts & entertainment

Indiana Jones: Harrison Ford’s Icon of Neverending Adventure

arts & entertainment

Van Halen: The Dave Years, the Sammy Years, the Life, the Music, and the Joy

arts & entertainment

“Baldy and the Long Hairs”: A Very 1950s Casting Call

arts & entertainment

Why We All Love Lucy

arts & entertainment

Bob Dylan: America’s Greatest Songwriter