The Value of Comics as a Medium
The questions I was supposed to answer were, "What are the unique qualities of comics?" and "What can comics do that other media can't?" The first question was somewhat easy to answer, since it didn't entail any comparison with other media.
The second question, however, gave me a headache. In today's cross-platform option-riddled multimedia world, I was hard pressed to come up with a strong case for the comics medium. Because, truth to tell, the web is a powerful medium in itself, boasting the capabilities of all media and then some. Through the web, one can watch videos, listen to music, read text of all kinds, play games, get an education, and fiddle with the loads of interactive opportunities thrown in. Plus, comics are available online. When it comes to the numerous ways it can deliver information, the Web is, at this point in time, the most versatile and capable medium out there (with the mobile platform quickly catching up).
Moreover, because of the numerous options we have, constantly haranguing us for some attention, we've learned to engage in "selective screening." We've learned not to take in everything thrown at us. We can't absorb every billboard, every witty tag line, every cable channel, every brochure and flyer, every movie, or every website. We couldn't even if we tried--we're not built that way.
So when it came to my presentation, I shared two insights:
1) What can comics do that other media cannot? The answer is, "Nothing and everything."
2) The question at this point in history is not what one medium is capable of doing over another, but how effective one medium is compared to another in delivering information.
The word is effectivity, not capability.
And effectivity is influenced by three variables: 1) Accessibility of the medium; 2) The quality of the information being delivered; and 3) The approval of a critical mass.
More in the next post.