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The power of comics

Earlier today I was listening to the Today Programme on radio 4.

Yes. I listen to radio 4. I’m not sure why you’re surprised. The clue is in the title after all : geeky girl. I am a geek. And radio 4 is a home of geek. (My husband just told me that the average age for the radio 4 listener is 60. He is lying. I married a liar.)


Anyway. The section was about comics and the impact they can have, specifically, it was looking at whether students learnt more when presented information via the comic book form, rather than the standard text book form. The answer was a resounding yes.

A few years ago I was making a case  for comics in Higher Education to my colleagues. Actually I was making a case for Pecha Kucha style presentations and for comics.

It went a bit like this:

The radio piece and the research being undertaken is brilliant. I couldn’t help but cringe at some of the assumptions the presenter seemed to hold, or at least exhibited, about the comic form – he referred to them as not all being silly. I’m not sure that any of them are purely silly.  What they are is abstract. And an abstract image is particularly powerful. You only have to consider cave paintings to see that.  (What’s wrong with ‘silly’ anyway).

I’m also a fan of Videogames and they are generally dismissed too. What is it with this human tendency to label anything fun or engaging as ‘not really serious’?

Anyway, this is what Radio 4’s website said about the section in the programme:

‘According to a new study by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University, comics are a better educational resource than traditional textbooks. The study investigated how the way information is presented can affect how easily it can be memorised. Dr Paul Aleixo is the lead researcher on the study and Nicola Streeten is a graphic novelist and comic scholar.’

If you get the chance to listen to it then please do. Im sure you’ll enjoy it and, hey, we could all learn from comics.


I can't believe I'm admitting this after years of disproving so-called 'sightings'. But the fae are real. They're real and they're here and they're going to banish humanity from the planet! Unless we can show them that we will care for the planet... please, help me save the world:

One thought on “The power of comics

  1. I heard this too. As R4 listeners are in some cases much older than 60 and also perhaps a little restricted culturally, the Today team fear they may think that ‘comics’ means either The Beano or 1950s style superheroes. R4 do underestimate their audience at times but sadly not always.


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