News and the maturation of the comic form

Following the Liverpool Post’s imaginative use of comics in its coverage of the 50-foot, 37-tonne mechanical spider La Princess, Toronto’s Globe and Mail has this great graphic explanation of the financial crisis:

Financial crisis cartoon (Toronto’s The Globe and Mail)

Financial crisis cartoon (Toronto’s The Globe and Mail)

Here’s the Post’s graphic novel insert cover if you’re interested…

Liverpool Daily Post - Spider comic

Liverpool Daily Post - Spider comic

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6 thoughts on “News and the maturation of the comic form

  1. Matt Buck

    Good post. I'd quibble with your use of the word maturation though. Comics or sequential story-telling has been around a long time, even if the anglo-saxon world has tended to denigrate drawing as kids stuff. It is rather more that news organisations, both print and pixel, have been slow to seize the opportunities for succinct, simple and informative story-telling that good drawing and layout offers. This work is nice to see.

    Reply
  2. Paul Bradshaw

    Well, I mean continuing maturation. The 80s and 90s saw it taken more seriously as a literary form, so it's interesting to see it spreading into news.

    Reply
  3. Matt Buck

    Ok, yes I buy that Paul 😉 It's an interesting choice of words you make though in your reply. It's as if a form has to be literary to be a valid way of telling the news*. Obviously, I'd disagree with this. I think good communication appears simple to the greatest number of people and well delivered images are much more efficient at doing this than words. Words are naturally exclusive, they are a code and so, potentially, a barrier to understanding. In careful combination, words and pictures are a much more powerful medium for expressing ideas or, news because they are complimentary and supporting rather than dominant. * This isn't a personally directed criticism, it's just you are encouraging me to talk about what I think a long-overdue debate.

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  4. Paul Bradshaw

    I wasn't implying it has to be literary to be taken seriously, just that it was taken more seriously in literary circles, if that makes sense. You're right that the comic form can be a very powerful way of communicating ideas – and has a long history in news anyway (very early newspapers were basically comics). Of course, it's more resource intensive, and there lies the rub.

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  5. Matt Buck

    No, I don't think you were implying it. My apologies if I came across that way. Your point about the resource (time and people) is well made – and the technology which allows these things to be cut is now challenging pure writers and reporters too. In these circumstances, it is ironic that so many journalists still do not seem to see the potential of digital communication as a good, low distribution cost way to tell quality factual stories.* Not to mention, issues around research, innovation, interactivity, creativity, reader involvement etc etc * Resources could be, in part, redirected to production 😉

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  6. Paul Bradshaw

    Comment from Article Dan at <a href="http://article_dan.posterous.com/on-the-maturatio…” target=”_blank”><a href="http://article_dan.posterous.com/on-the-…which ” target=”_blank”>http://article_dan.posterous.com/on-the-maturatio…which for some reason was rejected by the new commenting system: It's a curious development, and surely part of the constant new-media grasping for 360 offerings. The comicbook medium is often sited in presentations as an overlooked/niche (ergo visionary to some) form of 360 content. See the Google Chrome Scott McCloud comic release – garnered a load of kudos, but also spawned comments from Leo Laporte to the order of: "Google send out a comic to explain Google Chrome; like of course we're not smart enough to get it any other way – we have to have it explained in a comic!" Serious comics output, I suspect, will be much like a Michael Moore film – the people who go see it will more than likely already believe the in message (and the medium) imparted; those that don't agree just won't bother queuing up. How many people will read the likes of this news piece, the Liverpool spider comic or the Chrome offering then turn to read Art Speiglman 's Maus or In The Shadow of No Towers avowed to increase their comics consumption? Not many, I'll wager. Don't get me wrong, I love comics and graphic narrative, but I don't see these recent examples as John the Baptists to a serious move towards sequential art as news-bringer or opinion-former. They're just gimmicks in a multi-platform sideshow.

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