A lot of people, mostly older and notably academic, would say no. You’re basically looking at a lot of pretty pictures with some text. It has no real character or setting description, no alteration, nothing.
Which is true, but does it really matter that much? On the one hand, you could argue that a picture is worth a thousand words and you’re omitting those words by showing rather than telling, thus making it easier on the reader. Is this a valid point though?
Well maybe… you really are taking what could be explained in several pages and condensing it to a single tile on a page, but that doesn’t make it negative.
Personally, I don’t see these two as being the same medium, closely related, but no the same medium. You have visual and written mediums, as well as audible mediums. One is no less valid than the other. In this case, I’d say that comics and manga are a hybrid of two mediums, no less valid than either of them.
Yes when the writer paints the picture instead of describing it, you lose something. Now the reader can’t as easily build the world in their own imagination as they see fit, but it also gives the reader a chance to become more immersed in the world. By showing instead of telling, the reader can focus more on the characters and their development instead of imagery. Many people like comics because they say so much with just a few lines of cleverly chosen dialogue.
In a normal book, many writers get too tied up in imagery and descriptions instead of letting the reader figure it out. This can lead to some becoming disinterested or even bored with what they’re reading. There are many books out there that I can remember where I could skip over whole pages of description without really missing anything. In comics and manga, I couldn’t imagine skipping over a single panel and still being able to continue reading.
So in the end, do comic books count as reading? Honestly, yes. They may not really fall into the literature category, but that doesn’t make them any less valuable. When I was in college taking intro to education classes, I remember being taught about how there are some people who learn better with visuals, and some who learn better by just hearing things. Honestly, I remember struggling in school in the younger grades because it was a time when education was more of a one-size-fits-all deal where there was more tell and less show. Today, that isn’t the case. In fact, I had a few history classes in college where graphic novels such as MAUS were required reading. The classroom dynamic has changed to much that hybrid mediums such as graphic novels and comics are becoming more accepted.
In fact, there is a great charity organization out there called the Caroline Manga Library. It is a great traveling charity that’s goal is to teach and raise literacy awareness through manga and comics. They go to several cons and events, offering a wide library of comics, manga, artwork and so on. It really is a great organization. |
Yes, nothing will ever replace classic stories and the written word, but that’s not necessarily the goal of manga and comics. It’s simply another way to tell the same story. If you don’t like that medium or find it hard to follow, no problem. There are of course the traditional learners who still need to be catered to as well, but in accepting mediums that encompass more than one style, we open the door to more possibilities.
Anyway, that’s just my thoughts on the matter. Please feel free to leave a comment below whether you agree or disagree. I’d love to hear what everyone thinks.
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