Point 1: Although children’s books and children’s comics may both share an interdependence of text and imagery, children’s comics have many traits that set them apart from children’s comics.Point 2: They may serve to educate or inform like other types of comics, but children’s comics are created to be read by children first and foremost, and must keep their reading limitations in mind.Point 3: They need to be more simple than all-ages comics, with easy to follow layouts and no question to the reading direction.
These children’s chapter books may have more illustrations throughout the text than the children’s chapter books we grew up with, but this does not make them comics. There is still some confusion at large chain bookstores regarding this popular genre, and they’re often shelved with the graphic novels.
Point 3: Due to the introduction of the gutter, the reader is forced to make inferences, developing their logical thinking skills.
Thesis Defense Presentation
LAYOUT IN CHILDREN’S COMICSAND THE EFFECT ON READABILITY AND READING COMPREHENSION IN YOUNGER AUDIENCES
INTRODUCTION• Children‟s comics are not the same as children‟s books.• Children‟s comics serve a different purpose from other types of comics.• Require a different structure.• Two types of children‟s comics in this thesis- “Early Reader” and “Chapter Comic Books”
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHILDREN’S BOOKS AND CHILDREN’S COMIC BOOKS• Confusion about difference between children‟s books and children‟s comics• Some overlap with titles such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid; books that feature cartoony illustrations• Children‟s comics feature 1+ panels per page and text is in balloons or caption boxes.• Children‟s books have one image per page and dialogue in captions surrounding image
CHILDREN’S COMICS AND CHILDREN’S LITERACY• Comics can be used to encourage struggling readers• Image-text interdependency reinforces vocabulary, gives struggling readers confidence to make guesses.• Children can take turns reading comics with parents, friends, or teachers, encourages the social aspect of reading• Comics tend to be seen as being “fun”, not “work”• Generally layout follows directionality conventional to that country, reinforces literacy skills• Teaches timing, helps children develop a sense of direction
EARLY READER COMICS• Focuses on children ages 3-5 (beginning readers)• May have little to no dialogue• Can be read by a child with no literacy skills• Very simple comics with straightforward layouts• Should be designed to accommodate the reader‟s limitations, reinforce literacy skills.
EFFECTIVE LAYOUTSilly Lilly, by Agnès Rosenstiehl
EXPLANATION• Layout is simple and linear, it follows the reading direction that children are taught in school.• Panels are large and based on a grid, so they fit together with no wasted space• The pages in the example were originally facing pages in the book, the artist has taken this into consideration, neither page is more distracting than the other.
Lucy Knisley, “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in aShoe”,Nursery Rhyme Comics
EXPLANATION• Reading direction follows the left to right directionality that is common literacy practice in the Western Hemisphere• Reading direction is very clear• Space is utilized well• Layout is not overly cluttered• Although this is a more challenging layout than the Silly Lilly example, children tend to be familiar with the rhyme and can easily follow along.
NON-EFFECTIVE LAYOUTCraig Thompson, “Owl and the Pussycat”, Nursery Rhyme Comics
EXPLANATION• No concrete distinction between panels, they tend to blend together and become confusing• Reading direction is unclear• Page is overly cluttered, very distracting• Hard to follow even for a frequent comic reader
mo oh, “Hush, Little Baby” Nursery Rhyme Comics
EXPLANATION• Reading direction is extremely unclear• Pages have too many panels• Objects outside of panels may cause reading direction confusion or be distracting• May require several attempts to understand the flow
GENERAL PROBLEMS• Creator is unfamiliar with children, doesn‟t understand reading limitations.• Creator does not want to “dumb down” the product, resulting in a work that is more “All Ages” than “Early Reader”• Many conflicting definitions for what is appropriate for the age range• Definitions and standards of literacy are nebulous as well
CHAPTER COMICS-• Aimed at children 5-9• Has chapters or is broken into segments.• Longer and more complex than early reader• Still fairly simple in design
EXPLANATION• More complicated than „early reader‟, but not so complicated that the reading direction is unclear.• Introduces several interesting techniques including bleed and overlap in an easily understood way• Panels are still fairly large, so it is easy to see everything in the panel
Fig. 1 Fig. 3“Tomorrow‟s Heroes”,Legion of Superheroesin the 31st Century, Note: Pages are Fig. 2published by DC non-sequential.
EXPLANATIONFigure 1: Figure 2: Figure 3:• Page layout is easy to • Panel breaks • Panel break is fun read make for a and dynamic,• Large panels display dynamic page Superman “pushes” a great deal of without increasing the reader in the background, making the reading reading direction placement easier difficultly without seeming substantially too obvious • Occasionally a • Layout is fairly more difficult simple and page serves as a straightforward “treat” for the • Large bottom reader panel allows action • Panel shape also to breathe. makes for a dynamic, “fun” read.
EXPLANATION• Reading direction is unclear, reader could go left to right, or go down from the first panel. Reading in the wrong direction leads to confusion.• This book utilizes pages that are full of tiny panels, which become hard to read and can tire the reader out quickly
Figure 1 Figure 2“Tomorrow‟s Heroes”, Legion of Superheroes in the 31st Century, published byDC Note: Pages are non-sequential
WHY THIS DOESN’T WORKFigure 1 Figure 2• Poor utilization of • Panel 1 is poorly space, a fair executed and amount of the confusing page is wasted • Panels 2 and 3• Overlap of panels is merge unnecessary and unnecessarily confusing, does not • Borders of panels add to dynamism of aren‟t thick enough page to prevent visual bleed
WHY THIS DOESN’T WORK• Inefficient use of space- lot of white space on the page that could be used to show environment• Distracting, unnecessary, oddly-shaped inset panel. The page is working to accommodate one particular, non-essential panel, instead of vice-versa
GENERAL PROBLEMS• Pages are too busy, the work becomes difficult and tiring to read• Pages don‟t follow a linear format, require several rereadings with little payoff for the reader.• By introducing more complex comic vocabulary that‟s poorly used, the creator is only making the work more confusing• Creator doesn‟t understand audience, work is either overly childish or overly mature to be a children‟s chapter comic.
SOLUTIONS• Creators should keep the limited reading skills life experience of their young readers in mind when making children‟s comics.• Children‟s comics should have shorter chapter lengths and less complex scenarios than all ages comics or adult comics. Layouts should also be simplified for younger, less experienced readers .• Reading direction should be clear, creators should not need arrows to indicate reading flow.• For early reader comics, reading flow should follow directionality conventions in the comic, to enforce early literacy practices.
CONCLUSION• Children‟s comics offer different opportunities from children‟s books• A child can learn much from reading comics-timing, direction• Comics are more interactive than books, engaging the reader.• Offer more immediate interdependence between text and illustrations, which is useful for word association• Creators and publishers need to better understand their demographic in order to deliver a better product.