Posts from 3rd September 2008

3
Sep 08

Comics as an instructional medium

Proven By Science + The Brown Wedge4 comments • 141 views

I remember talking to comics giant Will Eisner a long time ago (1990 or so, I guess) about his experiences while working for the US army. He would produce instruction materials for soldiers in comic form. Every few years, a new boss decided he didn’t like that medium for such a purpose, and a new study was commissioned to prove that text and illustrations was the better approach – and every time it showed the exact opposite, that in fact comics were the best way to pass on information and instruction.

This point hasn’t been picked up an awful lot, but now we have as high a profile use of that idea as I’ve ever seen. Google has just launched a new browser, which looks pretty impressive. To explain it, they brought in the perfect choice for the job: Scott McCloud (who I happened to cover in the context of his great comic Zot! a few weeks back)(and he even responded!). I assume his Understanding Comics, a comic explanation of the medium, showed them how useful this approach was. He’s produced a lovely, clear and highly readable comic explaining and promoting it, explaining new features and elements of its internal architecture superbly. I have no idea if Chrome is as good as this makes it sound – new computer software is never bug free, and the potential problems from browser bugs can be huge, though it sounds as if they have taken sensible decisions to minimise the hazards – and this isn’t any kind of endorsement of the browser, which I haven’t tried, just an expression of delight that they chose this method, and the perfect person to execute it. I can’t imagine how many people will see this, but I hope it inspires others.