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Has it
crossed you mind why comic books or graphic novels were considered dumb? Why
such avid readers were called nerds, derogatorily, yet were considerably
smarter than you? Think back to how geeky their speech was and how they touched
on such complexities even for a simple book! Shortly, reasoning will tell why
comic books are the best. Over the years, from the 20th to 21st
century, research and documentation has been stacking up to prove that comic
books make their readers smarter. Comics make you want to read, and they use
complex language which progresses verbal intelligence. Like steroids for the
mind, comics can take struggling readers and make them stronger!

Comics
like there general format—books—have been crazed with obstruction and ridicule.

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In the 1950s, they were slandered as base entertainment for children and
immature adults which would turn readers into hoodlums and degenerates—for
worst—communists.

And
while that has all changed and comics have risen to become the string section
in the symphony of our culture, with even whole franchises and their expansions
praised as high art and for their exerting storytelling and expulsion of
visions and complex concepts (especially sci-fi and mystery thrillers). Yet,
ages ago they were obnoxiously colored and if they were so enjoyable for people
to dedicate their childhoods, to endure such stereotyping that pinned such a
negative view on comic books then they mustn’t be good at all for children to
read, right? However, research provided and credited to literacy
professors at California State University, Northridge by Anne E. Cunningham, a
professor of cognition and Human Development in the Graduate School of
Education at the University of California as a psychologist and Keith E.

Stanovich Emeritus,
Professor of Applied Psychology and Human Development at the University of
Toronto, who discovered numeral fascinating benefits from implementing comic
books or graphic novels into a person’s hand or curriculum, such as linking the
reading of comics to greater literacy skills (Perret).

Comic books are not only a great
advantage for kids with learning disabilities, but for students who struggle to
understand intricate text in literature. Children afflicted with autism can
learn a lot about identifying emotions through the images in a graphic novel.

Additionally, for children with dyslexia, while it might be very frustrating
for them to finish a page of a traditional book, they often feel a sense of
accomplishment when they complete a page in a comic book. Many schools with a
special needs programs to regular core classes have used or are currently
having this medium inducted into their classrooms as a way to help students.

Accomplishment is important to child as much as it is making their parents
proud. It’s a huge self-esteem booster and leads to kids naturally wanting to
read more which eventually contributed to comics becoming another forum for
political and social activist

 

 

However, when kids have low self-esteem, they aren’t strong
readers and that can discourage them from wanting to read. But these type of
books are a great way to promote literacy. Naturally, administrators do not
want to give ESL or ELA students picture books. Kids would reject that and call
it embarrassing because that is how comic books were so generally perceived.

However, a comic book at a lower reading level might give kids the reading
confidence they need while boosting their reading and language skills. This is
true even among a higher level of education or corporal business as explained
in a graphic presentation of an empirical examination of the graphic novel
approach to communicate business concepts by authors; Aaron McKenny, assistant
professor of management at the University of Central Florida whose research
focus is in strategic management and entrepreneurship. Mr. B. Randolph-Seng, a
professor in Management at Texas A&M
University at Commerce and Jeremy Short the Rath Chair in Strategic Management at
the Price College of Business at the University of Oklahoma. Mr. Short also
co-authored the first Harvard Business Case in graphic novel format. Very
heavily credited people of interest if there is ever a doubt on mind.

Graphic novels have been increasingly as of recent years
incorporated into business communication forums, including university courses
in business and management. They are of a communications design and fine arts,
pursing many into a field of craft that coincides by those incorporated to
create and publish a graphic or comic book—such a popular medium isn’t just
published and handed out from an enthusiast’s basement anymore.

There is record of a study in which over a hundred business
major undergraduates participated—unbelievable right? Two quarters of the
students were asked to read a graphic novel on important management concepts,
while the other half were asked to read the same concepts in textbook
format—all the students were quizzed. Those who had read the graphic novel were
more likely to recognize direct quotes than those who had read the textbook
because the novel consists of comic art in the form of sequential
juxtaposed panels that represented individual
scenes which in my personal experience helped break down the process of the
context where—for example; theme—the interrelated conditions in which something
exists, but remains too obscured between the traditional lines of print that
gives students such a hard time especially if the said book is very
descriptive, lengthy, maybe even outdated from the middle ages to colonial
times, different linguistics and grammar. And in a related study, over a hundred students were
asked to give feedback on a graphic novel they had been assigned to read in a
business class; 80% said they preferred the graphic novel format to a textbook.

The article includes a quote from the lead author of the study, Jeremy Short. “With
that kind of information in the study, that really has a lot of implications
about how we should be teaching business, how we should be teaching a lot of
things, really.” More research remains to be
done regarding the neurological benefits of reading comic books, but the facts
are evident with creditable sources.

For a decade now, it
is common to hear talks about swapping out a dry anthropology textbook for a juvenile
comic book that touches on relevant themes in a classroom. If textbooks can
carry pictures and figures now, why not take a leap and get students to become
more engaging by relating to them on a level they can comprehend and learn
from? This can even influence students to double check in their textbooks to
make sure they were on the right track and evidently produces more of a
conversation students can become more involved in. With a combination of
literature and visual art, its counts as one schema—a diagrammatic presentation
of the work they are dealing with in which the information processed is a part
of a set of stimuli—a word learned from a comic book!

Going
back to Cunningham and Stanovich, they determinedly removed the notion that the
language of comics writing was low-based. To learn language and improve
vocabulary, readers must be exposed to complicated language. To measure this
end, Cunningham and Stanovich analyzed the language used in different
entertainment outlets such as television, children’s books, adult books, and
comic books. They also analyzed the oral language used by college graduates
because supposedly their vocabulary is more extensive. In the analysis, the
pair uncovered the fact that the language used by comics were and even to this
day far more advanced than the oral communication of college graduates, and
uses almost twice as many rare words! Fascinatingly, comic books often use
more challenging language than children’s literature. Cunningham and Stanovich
closed their case by stating, “We should provide all children, regardless of
their achievement levels, with as many reading experiences as possible. Indeed,
this becomes doubly imperative for precisely those children whose verbal
abilities are most in need of bolstering, for it is the very act of reading
that can build those capacities… Those who read a lot will enhance their verbal
intelligence; that is, reading will make them smarter.” Initially, comic books
have long been flayed and flagged from long hard critics.

Most
notably in the past was a psychiatrist by the name of Frederic Wertham,
who declared ago that comic books were morally corrupt on young readers,
influencing them to a life of crime—if only he’d lived to see video games, a shame—because
of his “claims the U.S. Federal Government jumped into the fray in 1950 as a
Senate special committee was doing an investigation into organized crime. As a
part of the investigation there was inquire on the ‘effects’ that crime comics
had. A judge on that committee stated that he had cases where boys had
committed a crime that was patterned after ones depicted in a comic book. Now
in recent years we have had similar occurrences of people replicating what
they’ve see in the entertainment industry, but it would be incredulous to say
that all blame is on comic books. Sadly, blaming comic books became an easy way
out for kids. They would be given sympathy, for it was the comic book that
“made them do it” (Kannenberg). If so then we should rid ourselves of
all forms of entertainment, of all that we have created since the first sunset!
Physiologically, we aren’t so simple for things to be just—simple.

Even
though there were a number of people in the media who were critical of comic
books, Dr. Wertham’s book, Seduction of the Innocent (1954), had the most
devastating effects. This book stated that in Dr. Werthams studies with
children, villainized comic books to be the major cause of adolescent
delinquency. But his assertions were based on association. The vast majority of
kids in those days read comic books, including the ones who became delinquents.

But according to Dr. Wertham, comic books caused this. But comics went much
further than just turning kids into juvenile delinquents according to Wertham,
comic books were giving kids wrong ideas about the laws of physics, a physical
human body was never meant to genetically fly. He also charged that comic books
were enforcing homosexual thoughts because Robin was drawn with legs bare, that
were often wide open, and that Robin seemed devoted and attached to only
Batman—we all know Robin by now to be Bruce Wayne’s son and nowadays we have
such extensive nudity in the media that it’s normal. Dr. Wertham also stated
that Wonder Woman was giving little girls the “wrong ideas” about a
woman’s place in society—not a shocker, now its flipped. We argue about what
should be Wonder Woman’s message of a woman’s place and to the children and
what she should represent.

Naturally,
the comic industry and others fought back against these false accusations. Some
attacked Dr. Wertham’s study by pointing out that Wertham studied only juvenile
delinquents, he made an assumption without comparing them to other kids. He
study was nothing short of a shrewd sampling. Consequencely to his
“discoveries”, the research has been reprimanded (though the man has been dead
for a while), a New York Times article brought Wertham back into the
light. Since 2010, assistant professor of Library Science, Carol Tilley,
reading through all of Wertham’s research discovered that he had “manipulated,
overstated, compromised and fabricated evidence” (Kannenberg). The evidence that had been given credence in the arenas of
mental health and juvenile delinquency, grew obsolete—many thanks to Ms. Tilley
for this debunker.

Summarily, comic books are the greatest form
of practice; comic books require
readers to create meaning using multiple “modalities”—”the classification of logical propositions
according to their asserting or denying the possibility… contingency, or
necessity of their content” by dictionary definition courtesy of
Merriam-Webster. Readers of comic books must process all the different components
just like an artist would—visual, spatial, and textual—of what they are reading
and integrate them into one solid understanding of the story. This means that,
even though comic books may appeal to readers for the same reason these
individuals are drawn to other forms of entertainment, such as television and
video games, and yes some may even have a bit of a bite to their personality,
but reading these books actually involves much more complex processing, there
is far more to this genre than simply looking at picture as some critics
believe. Hopefully, the old joke of ‘I can only read picture
books’ as a derogatory to the child’s or persons intelligence and reference to
a toddlers content will die away like an epilogue to those stereotypes and
criticism of a graphic medium. They bring both comfort, security, and new
things to learn everyday as the world becomes to adaptive and reciprocal of
comics, cartoons, etc. They have expanded to help bring to light great problems
in our world for students to interpret the way they see it like an analytical
charm. 

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