Comic books may initially seem like they are not good for the brain, but many people, including professors, now believe that they are actually beneficial for reader’s learning. The words “comic book” or “graphic novel” can create a negative image in the minds of parents and teachers. The worry that there is not enough complex sentences or challenging words enters their minds. Research suggests the contrary. Comic books challenge the reader not only with the words that they use, but by stimulating the brain with visual objects. They are also useful as they can intrigue some people, who would not otherwise take an interest in literature, to read.
Research is increasing, along with sales, as comics are beginning to enter digital media. Hundreds of millions of dollars were made from them in recent years. As a result research into why comics are so popular, and what the benefits of them are, is rising. Comic books have been printed, sold and circulated in the United States since 1933 yet research on them is only really beginning.
The study of comics is becoming around the world. There are thought to be approximately 150 comic scholars in the United Kingdom. Such interest in the field has occurred that an institution has been established for further study and development. The institution is the Scottish Centre for Comics Studies at the University of Dundee, Scotland. Writers, creators, archivist, and artists are among the minds present at the institution. There are also many academic establishments across the United States that have programs focused on comic studies. A few of these include The University of Florida and the University of California Santa Cruz.
Comic books are not only good for the brain because they combine stimulation from images and text, but also because they elicit inference in the reader’s mind. Children can have large words added to their vocabulary list through inference. They may not know what a long word means, and would probably skip over it in regular literature, but because they can infer meaning from the context they continue reading, while adding knowledge along the way.
Many comic readers test at, or above, their reading level for age. Comics are thought to increase confidence in the reader, which for any child, or adult for that matter, is not a bad thing. Comics also allow a time for creative thinking, fantasy and dreaming. Readers are thus picturing superheros, maybe pretending to be one, while getting a hidden moral message along the way. Some fields of pediatrics, as well as abuse, use comics and art as a way to get patients and victims to communicate. Helping to get them to talk about topics that are difficult for them.
Some research does show that comic books can be negative. As with video games, and other media, highly violent scenes and sexual activities can elicit certain behaviors and emotions that are not desirable. This, however, is like many artistic publications, or violent display, and needs to be filtered as appropriate.
Reading is reading, after all, and if comic books can reach people who would not otherwise be using their brain for books, then it would seem comics are a good thing for reader’s minds and imaginations. Parents with children who do not like to read should give the comic books a shot, maybe it will spark an interest in other forms of reading down the road. Building confidence in ones abilities, and having fun in the process, is the best way to learn.
Opinion by Latasha Alvaro