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Are graphic novels for kids? Part 2

- Comics always feel like they’re for the younger set.

- That’s because of the pictures.

- Adults like pictures, too.

- Yes. But when we learned to read, the first thing we decoded weren’t letters and words. We decoded pictures.

- Like D is for dog.

D is for dog

- Right. And the younger the reader, the more pictures there are to the book.

- To help the kid decode?

- That. And to amuse the child. The pictures are something to look at while the adult reads the story.

- It keeps the kid entertained.

- But as kids grow, books provide less and less pictures.

- Because they can fill in the visuals with their imaginations?

- In theory.

- So you’re saying that when a story is told with pictures, we think that it’s for kids because, as kids, we learned to read with pictures.

- That’s right.

- But lots of things are told with pictures – for adults.

- What do you mean?

- Street signs,

No left turn

warning signs,

Don't trip

bathroom signs. . .

Restroom sign

Any sign where you don’t need to read words to understand the meaning.

- Like the skull and crossbones on a bottle to indicate poison.

poison

- Exactly. It’s another kind of reading.

- Reading that doesn’t require literacy.

- Right. That’s been around forever. It’s why a hatmaker would have a sign with the picture of a hat,

Hatmaker sign



or shoemaker had a sign in the shape of a shoe.

shomaker sign

- But nowadays most people are literate.

- A few aren’t.

- True. But they’re not likely to buy books.

- So?

- So, if you know how to read, the old sign shapes are unnecessary. You can read the words.

- But it’s easier with shapes and pictures.

- Yes. Just as it’s easier to read “dog” when there’s a picture of a dog next to the word.

- Your point?

- That when we see comics, it brings us back to that easier kind of reading. Or at least, that’s what we associate with the pictures.

- So even when the subject matter is really for adults. . .

- We think it’s for kids.


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