Comics in real life

Ever since I was a wee one sneaking a torchlight and a comic book under a blanket way past bedtime, I’ve grown use to the rant “Comics are for kids”. When I came over to the USA, I encountered the flip side of the coin – “Comics are an ivory tower meant only to be enjoyed by connoisseurs”. As is wont with me, I think both statements are oversimplifications issued with down right condescending snootiness.

Comics are a way of life, a part of life and they are everywhere. When Google launched its Chrome browser, guess what they did to get the point across – they commissioned the grand young “old man” of comics, Scott McCloud to make a comic book about it. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture with speech balloons is worth a million in my book.

Remember those safety posters in schools? At least for me the most effective were the ones which were drawn like comic books. They spoke to me, made me think twice about stuff which I’d have dismissed as too S-Q-U-A-R-E. Human beings respond best to visual stimuli. A picture in itself, though potent, is just a moment frozen in time. A moving picture is too close an approximation of life and provides too much distraction to our other senses. A moving picture without sound is downright creepy, like a weird French mime. A comic book is the golden mean. Pictures with words, the bowl of porridge that is neither too hot nor too cold, the answer to the age old riddle of how to get the most across while saying/doing the least.

Most of us don’t even realize that we read comics frequently. Everytime you board an airplane and the “hawt” stewardess with ample bosoms in the skimpy skirt refers you to the safety brochure, guess what – you’re reading a comic book, albeit the most drab kind. The safety brochure is written with a specific end in mind, not entertain but to disseminate (ewww, I feel dirty writing that word) information. And it does its job admirably well.

So next time please try not to either sound dismissive or too snooty about comic books. They are a literary form and like any other they have varying degrees of accessibility for different people. Some don’t get it, some do and some spend entire lifetimes wondering if Batman is gay (He isn’t, not that there is anything wrong with it).

On a separate note, I hate mimes. I wish they’d just hold speech/thought balloons and get it over with.

Till next time.



This is a repost from my past column in Nine Panel Grid at Comics Waiting Room.

4 Replies to “Comics in real life”

  1. Pingback: Saurav Mohapatra
  2. I think alike (Guess that’s why we are in the same industry). There are brochures and how to’s filled with images which not just compliment the text, but also clarifies any confusion. Most of the modern equipments come with the Guidebooks that usually have many languages, but its images that do the needful. In any emergency, its easier for human to see the images, often associated signs and symbols and act faster then reading the texts and then getting confused where exactly the emergency button is, and how to pull the tube to fill air.

    With the onset of internet, the human race has turned restless. We don’t want to wait for the story to complete, we want to scroll to the end as fast as we can. Web interface and images play vital role in information propagation. 140 characters Twitter is such a hit. The text is loosing its relevancy – usually out of a news report, what we read maximum is just headline, and then we scroll down to see if there is a video of that news. The time is for images, graphics, videos and text all combined in one. The future of information depends upon what could be well symbolized as a comic book.

  3. Pingback: Vijayendra Mohanty
  4. Pingback: Saurav Mohapatra

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