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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12 Comments on “Do Comic Books Count As Reading?

  1. Hmm…I’m not sure if I agree. You’d need to define the word “reading” a little better. I don’t think viewing a story in the form of pictures is reading. I think reading is directly related to viewing and understanding the meaning of words. Think about how comics and manga are very similar to movies. You don’t read movies, you watch them. Sure, a picture is worth a thousand words. But that doesn’t mean that you’re reading those words; you might be “grasping” or “understanding” them in light of viewing the picture. But I don’t think that would qualify as reading.

    So, in my opinion, comics and manga don’t count as “reading”. I think it’s okay to use that term: “I was reading a comic”.
    Just my thoughts! Thanks for the read!


    • True, but most movies don’t include text bubbles… unless you’re watching with subtitles, and I would consider that a gray area as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know, but you weren’t emphasizing that as much when you were talking about the similarities between books and comics. It might be “reading” because of that…but certainly not literature!


  2. Yes and no to me, as it’s a different medium and requires a different type of reading and as is often the case with poetry you have to fill more gaps in your mind, so it is not necessarily easier to read a graphic novel. They’re often shorter with regard to the number of pages but you have to pay more attention in that short time. A lot also depends on the quality of the comic books/graphic novels/manga as well. Many of them are hastily drawn, written by bad scenario writers, often badly translated, badly printed and often very stereotypical. (but it’s the same with ‘real’ books, I guess).
    On the plus side, they are very useful for people that can’t or won’t read large amounts of text and can help them take the hurdle towards ‘real’ books.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think it really matters if one is ‘reading’ or not. The important thing is engaging with the narrative, and experiencing a story. Comic books and graphic novels tell stories, as do other media such as movies, television shows, and narrative-based video games. All of these exist to convey a story to a reader/viewer/player, and the effect of engaging with each of these is the same: you have experienced a story. The process of experiencing that story, and the medium through which that story is told, is not as important as hearing the story itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I do agree that comics and manga count as reading. In my opinion, when it comes to child development, getting some children to read ANYTHING is a challenge, so if they want to read comics and manga, I say, “Great!” because at least they are working on building vocabulary. Some of those books use some pretty hefty words. Besides, I feel reading comics and manga may encourage them to write and draw them and isn’t that what reading is all about? Fostering the imagination? Great article!


  5. Totally agree. Comics, just like graphic novels, count as reading. Besides, I’d say it’s just as much reading as listening to a book on tape. Two different processes, but why take away credit for either one?

    Also, this is minor and I’m not trying to be an ass, the plural of medium is media. Not mediums. Minor, just thought you might want to clean it up since you use it a few times.

    Great stuff. Keep writing. And reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Of course comic books count as reading. Besides, comics have some awesome, convoluted stories with excellent character development, natural plot twists, and fantastic dialogue. Anyone who’s read Alan Moore or Grant Morrison knows what I’m talking about. Honestly, if you don’t think comics are worth reading, you’ve been reading the wrong things. I get how a bad comic can dissuade you, but then again it’s like there aren’t bad books. Judging comics without delving into them is like judging all books based on Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey. From that perspective, you can argue books aren’t worth your time, either. And then you open Crime and Punishment and things somehow change. If you want to read the Crime and Punishment of comics, have a look at Watchmen or V for Vendetta. Or perhaps The League of the Extraordinary Gentlemen. If that doesn’t persuade you, nothing will.


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