A comic strip in Bloomberg Businessweek – called The Joy of Tech - prompted a smile. And some thoughts.
It’s clear that Americans’ love of comix has lasted for decades; today, it’s morphed into a major business. Librarians now cite the rush to check out graphic novels – in the adult as well as kids’ sections. There’s a great uproar when newspapers cancel specific strips – and, often, popular outcry re-institutes their publication.
In fact, the preference for “whimsical drawings” (English for the Chinese manga) and bande dessinée (“drawn strips” in French) is almost universal. Think Tintin and Astro Boy, just two of the world’s most beloved characters.
The big question (at least among educators): How much should we rely on captions/word balloons and pictures for learning and instruction – at any age? Many naysay the medium, claiming it oversimplifies content. Others see no issues; anything that prompts more people to read is good. Even the late and much-celebratted author John Updike championed it, saying publicly in 1969: “I see no intrinsic reason why a doubly talented artist might not arise and create a comic strip novel masterpiece.”
Given this background and our admitted sensibilities, we’re voting to launch (or continue, as the case may be) comix in the workplace.
We’re not talking satirical, op-ed type of cartoons. Nor do we advocate pretty visuals, without being accompanied by relevant content. The pictures we’re seeing deal with how-tos, for one. Like a new process to apply for internal jobs. Or a visual preview of the elements of databases. They can also relate stories – quickly and powerfully. About culture, the way we do things around here. About employee heroes and brand ambassadors. [Add your great ideas here!]
Now we can just anticipate some of the reactions. “Original illustration is expensive.” “Our company won’t accept this kind of media.” “It downgrades our efforts.”
Nonsense. All generations read and enjoy comix. Many do their best learning through pictures. It’s a true break from screen viewing and, yes, ponderous text. As to the cost? Ask your designer about adding an illustrative style to photographs using Adobe. [Among other techniques.]
Japanese use manga to communicate about every subject imaginable, from romance to business. Why not us?