“The cartoon style is sometimes good in explaining things; the words are right there with the illustration, complete text-image integration produced by the same hand behind both text and image. And the mind behind that hand has to have a good understanding of the content–usually–in order to produce the narrative illustrations. Of course readers don’t expect to see original scientific evidence reported cartoon-style; the cartoon style for serious evidence would compromise the credibility of the report.”
– Edward Tufte, Ask E.T. forum
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It seems that most discussion about comics done by information designers is about the merits of the cartoon style — corporations using cartoons for training manuals or teachers using comics to appeal to teenagers, for example — than about the merits of what Tufte calls “the underlying syntax of comics.” Let us remember, by way of McCloud, that comics is a form, not a style — comics can look like The Gates of Paradise, or they can look like Marmaduke.
I like the word “syntax.” Comics is a language, with its own grammar, it’s own “patterned relations,” arrangements, and structures. Comics is also a type of special reading. So yes, it is true that information design can learn from cartooning’s “unity of style,” but what can it learn from, for example, the juxtaposition of “voiceover” narration with images and dialogue? What about recursive narration? What can we learn about reading and flow?
Austin Kleon says
Here’s a good quote:
“Think of comics as a language comprised of two separate and vastly different elements used in tandem to convey information.”
—Dennis O’Neal; The DC Comics Guide To Writing Comics