Here’s a tradition that has persisted for generations: Kids huddle outside the doors of their local comic book shops—clutching their weekly allowance, babysitting money, loose change scavenged from between sofa cushions—just itching to get their hands on the latest issue of Superman, The Amazing Spiderman, or Teen Titans.
And accompanying this tradition are the unenlightened parents who roll their eyes at the stacks of glossy paperbacks avalanching to the floor, sighing “Well, at least they’re reading something.”
Traditional text is limited to presenting the same information sequentially. But when we read comics, we simultaneously interpret a multitude of visual information such as setting, mood, time, emotion, dialogue, and action.
In an episode of the podcast Making Sense with neurologist Sam Harris, Barbara Tversky, cognitive scientist and author of the book Mind in Motion: How Action Shapes Thought, argued that the human brain is actually structured more like comics than traditional language, because we first understand the world around us by mapping spatial and relational information onto our own bodies, much the way we do when we read comics.
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