Comics fans and historians split the history of comics into "ages", which are sequential periods of time that each have a shared feel reflective of the general trends in comics during the years that the "age" spans.
At ComicSpectrum we will also call out some key sub-divisions within ages (and sometimes spanning multiple ages). Each has its own unique characteristics that are worth calling out and are worth examining and understanding.
Ultimately, it's useful to break up and understand the common sub-divisions in the history of comics for collecting purposes. Many people like to specialize on collecting from one or multiple ages, or even concentrating on collecting within some of the specialized sub-divisions, like EC or Underground comics .
Here are the major divisions and sub-divisions. Each will be examined in a bit more detail on the pages linked below:
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There are a LOT of books on the history of comics. Above are covers of some of the books that I've read and think are quite good. If you want a quick summary with some samples of comics across the history of the art form and don't want to read an entire book about it, you can get a quick summary here.
If you have the time, do a search on Amazon (or the internet in general) on "History of Comics". You can dig into lots of information and lots of different viewpoints about this history of this fascinating topic.