Updates and such

With the year closing, now’s as good a time as any to survey some of the things going on around here…

Now that The Visual Language of Comics is out in the UK/Europe, I am eagerly awaiting its release in the US at the end of January. For those of you who are reading it, I hope you’re enjoying it, and I encourage you to post a review of it on its Amazon page. I am of course always welcoming of feedback directly or posted here in the blog comments as well.

For those of you who speak German, the article about my work in the magazine Der Spiegel has now appeared online in full.

For those of you who speak Spanish, my articles have continued to be translated each month in the online magazine Revista Exégisis. The latest issue translated my article on “natural” visual language poetry (English article), and also includes example strips from my friends Alexander Danner and Tym Godek’s Two for No.

This coming year looks to be an exciting one. Beyond the full book release, I continue to work on a few exciting studies here at UC San Diego that are currently underway. I should have several papers appearing in journals within the coming months, and have plans to submit several more soon. Among these projects is actually my next book, which will be an edited volume combining the work of several researchers who have contributed to this broader field that I’m working to establish (most all of whom are cited in The Visual Language of Comics). More on this as it develops…

Finally, I am very much looking forward to this coming school year here at UC San Diego. I’ll be teaching a “Language of Comics” class for the linguistics department in Winter Quarter, which will focus on the structural aspects of visual language. This class builds off of the one I taught several years ago at Tufts, but now with the added bonus of having a coherent textbook in my book! Then, in Spring Quarter we’ll be moving on to a class on the “Cognition of Comics” for the cognitive science department. There the emphasis will be on the experimental and corpus research analyzing visual languages, and students will be guided through doing their own research projects on visual language. I’m really excited about this class!

Here’s looking forward to 2014!


  • For those of you who speak German, the article about my work in the magazine Der Spiegel has now appeared online in full.

    The article contains your quote that kids must study the language of comics but the overall impression is that you have only created a fancy scientific theory.

    Your book is not an easy read and there are no books that help "ordinal" people to understand how to combine text and images in their everyday life.

    I had seen some books that try to help adults to overcome a fear of imperfection. There are a lot of "How to Draw" books for kids. All of them are about static images. I have seen some comics manuals but they are intended for art students.

    Today you must jump into art before you can use the language of comics. For most people this is a hindrance they cannot overcome.


    Vit R

  • Thank you for the comments Vit. My work is indeed scientific research about the structure and cognition of comics and drawings. I don't pretend to be teaching how to create comics, but rather what our brains do to comprehend them.

    There are several good books on creating comics that I know of though, including:

    Making Comics by Scott McCloud
    Drawing Words and Writing Pictures by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden
    The DC comics guide to creating comics by Carl Potts

    All of these books focus on how to create graphic narratives, as opposed to "how to draw." (My favorite "how to draw" books are all by Mark Kistler, who was my childhood drawing teacher).

    You're right though, that being able to draw is often a limitation for people who want to create comics. Visual language is similar to all other languages—you need to learn it early and learning it later in life is not easy. In this way, my message tells the cold hard truth about development, and not the warm and fuzzy "everyone can draw" and "drawing is universal" message that usually persists in drawing classes.

    Nevertheless, learning to draw—and to draw sequential images—can be done with work and practice! It just requires the same effort as learning any other language.

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