Comics and Internet Expression

Text and pictures working in tandem can leave a powerful impression upon readers. This seems to be one of Scott McCloud’s central ideas as he stresses the power of comics. He writes, “And indeed, words and pictures have great powers to tell stories when creators fully exploit them both” (152). I agree that pictures can be used to augment text and vice versa. However, I think it is clear that another method of utilizing graphics, text, and other means of communication not addressed by McCloud has been popularized since the publishing of the author’s work two decades ago. The Internet now provides writers with the tools to integrate many different varieties of material into their work. This has allowed for the emergence of new and diverse writing styles. An examination of a current political issue can serve as a good example of how comics and other Internet sources can be very powerful rhetorical tools. In this case, I will discuss the possibility of a government shutdown that has been circulating amongst news stations and the underlying idea of mutual political blame.

The comic that can be viewed to the right is a classic example of the power of mixing text with pictures. I would classify it as an interdependent use of text and pictures as described by McCloud. In such a comic, McCloud writes that “words and pictures go hand in hand to convey an idea that neither could convey alone” (155). The comic would not make sense in its intended context without both the text and images, but together a powerful effect is created. Both of the characters pictured are portrayed in what I view as a rather unflattering manner, as they both look irritable and relatively uncouth. The words they use are not those you would expect to be exchanged between civilized members of our elected legislative body if you did not know the condition of our political system. Altogether, the comic seems to radiate a powerful feeling of childish discontent that can both amuse the reader and make him or her feel slightly ill at the state of our political affairs.

Journalists, once purveyors of printed text and the occasional black and white photograph, seem to be utilizing the power of the Internet to integrate some of the same qualities found in the comic above while also taking a different approach. Click here to see the Washington Post article to which I will be referring in the rest of this paragraph. The article displays most of the traditional journalistic techniques: it is concise, to the point, and utilizes AP style. However, a very large image sits at the top of the article which the user can change to see other images related to the story. The reader can also display captions that explain the photographs. The approach of the article is certainly not meant to be amusing like the comic discussed above. However, I think the images and text work together to effectively impress upon readers both the seriousness of our government’s financial situation and the state of politics in our nation. Mutual blame is written in the stances and gesticulations of two politicians from opposing parties as displayed in the article’s images. The same theme seems to be clearly presented in the text as well.

Blogs are also being utilized as sources for modern news, and they also use the technology the Internet has made readily available to form effective writing. Click here to see the blog post I will discuss below. The blog utilizes text and an image to present the themes of dysfunctional government and mutual blame. However, it also goes further by giving readers the chance to vote on who would be to blame in the event of a government shutdown and provides them with hyperlinks to read about studies concerning the feelings of the American people about the situation. The blog makes a concerted effort to involve the reader in the issue by providing chances to do further research, participate in the poll, and make their own comments about the issue. The rhetoric in the blog heavily suggests mutual blame, but it allows readers to make their own evaluations.

Comics, journalistic endeavors, and blogs are just a few of the ways that people are now using text in conjunction with images, hyperlinks, videos, and more. I find these developments in the field of writing fascinating, as they provide readers with more inputs through which to glean information. In the case of breaking news such as the possible government shutdown, mutual methods can allow for quick and effective production of competent works.

I am, however, aware of the fact that many are not impressed with expanding multimodal approaches to writing or dislike certain approaches for personal reasons. They may be attached to more traditional writing methods as I sometimes am depending on the situation involved. So, what do you think of the evolving multimodal approaches to writing? Which do you find effective and which do you think we would be better off without?



2 thoughts on “Comics and Internet Expression

  1. meghanoneal says:

    I think that these methods can be very effective, especially considering today’s readers. There is so much information coming from so many different sources pretty much constantly. I remember when Michael Jackson died, my Facebook page blew up about it even before the news had been confirmed (where my friends found this information, I’ll never know). In order to keep up, I will skim multiple news sites until I find what is fact and what is speculation. It is not expected that a reader will finish an entire article before moving on to the next. Because of this, I think the multimodal presentation does a good job of getting the basics to the reader before they move on to the next article. I’m not necessarily saying that this is good for the reader, but it does help them to get the correct information with the way that they read.

    I think that the interactive blog is kind of brilliant. It keeps the reader engaged so that they are more likely to stay on the webpage and read the entire article and get a more cohesive idea that the article is trying to present. Furthermore, they get the opinion of others for a more rounded view of what is going on rather than a biased view that many new sources have. I think that this is more the future of mulitmodal composition and it shows the potential for positivity in the field rather than negative results.

  2. Levi Worts says:

    I like what you pointed out of the news article having scrollable photos. In many cases, the news article may also add a video of voters reacting to the government shutdown or a Senator’s speech. I believe we may see a point in the future when multiple words or phrases have scroll-over video pop-ups. Considering the way video recording has exploded in recent years, it is safe to say that imagery and text are in an interesting evolution together.

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