Comic Books: Rereading How We Understand Things

The Book

When we grasp the concept of the book, what are we likely to think of? A book takes on many forms such as compressed pages bounded together with a thread, a cover alone. As the book evolves, so has its many new styles. Books began to change how we journey into the land of escapism. From traditional novelties which bring to life love and tragedy, fact or fiction, books have become intertwined with consumer culture. As we transition into the modern age of the printed text, many new waves of novelty continue to come about and change the way books appeal to consumers in today’s society.

The Comic Book

By the turn of the twentieth century, many fashions of books were becoming essential pieces for their reader’s collections; That is until the comic book. Comic Books, also known as graphic novels, founded themselves on a wave of success into the 1940s and maintained that status for the next seventy-plus years within the United States. Comic books brought to light a new way of comprehending stories through the merging of visual arts and wordplay. Readers, young and old, found themselves engaged in this new visual wordplay. The fusion of visual art and text as a literary form was something unheard of even before comics became what they are today. For some time, comics were misunderstood as literary devices; unable to classify them as literacy or a literary work seems un-representing for the comic book consumer. The combination of the written word and visual art complement one another in such a way that the material presents a new way of thinking.

Comics As Literacy

Consider prehistoric cave paintings some 40,000, 50,000 years ago; to tell a story using only images. Early homo-sapiens, or cave dwellers as we call them, identified their surroundings and took what they knew and applied that on walls. The use of raw materials, images were developed to give meaning to objects, living, or non-living. Thousands of years later and we have comics doing the same thing. Illustrations are used to imply meaning, to tell a story. Comics provides readers with a critical approach of thinking; more or less, how and why subjects do what they do within the picture and what the figures imply. Each panel displays new images of characters and their actions; the way the character shows emotions is all relevant. It is how we use our intuition and our imagination that enables us to go along this journey with characters and emotionally connect with their situations. When we dive into a comic, we are invested in the illustrations telling the story. We become spent in this world of visual narratology, compelling story with a point of view. High-quality images, still or moving. In a way, comics act as a prompt; we are given a platform to develop ideas and provide meaning. We are incorporating a sense to the visual while we read it.

The Next Chapter

The comic is so much more than an entertaining fun read, it is escapism. It is not a style of reading meant for a community of introverts or fandom, and it is reading for everyone. Graphic narratives offer more than an artistic platform of visual awe. They provide insight on thoughts and ideas, and with that, readers go beyond the realm of comprehension and understanding. Graphic narratives reach beyond what it is to be literacy, so much so, they have become their style of literature. Combining visual art and wordplay brings to life a new perspective of storytelling. As we read, we become a part of the text and its visual platform.

So that begs the question: Are you ready to explore the world of imagination?