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COMIC PSYCHOLOGY

The visual language of comic books can improve brain function

Reuters/Toussaint Kluiter
There’s a reason humans are naturally inclined toward the efficiency of visual storytelling.
  • Mary Widdicks
By Mary Widdicks

Journalist

Here’s a tradition that has persisted for generations: Kids huddle outside the doors of their local comic book shops—clutching their weekly allowance, babysitting money, loose change scavenged from between sofa cushions—just itching to get their hands on the latest issue of Superman, The Amazing Spiderman, or Teen Titans.

And accompanying this tradition are the unenlightened parents who roll their eyes at the stacks of glossy paperbacks avalanching to the floor, sighing “Well, at least they’re reading something.”

Comic books and graphic novels have come to be regarded as a medium of pure, decadent entertainment. Yet literary scholars have started to study the unique language of visual narratives and how it influences and informs the way readers understand stories, and how our brains develop and understand codes and language.

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