So many things can be said through words, but it is impossible to capture the same emotion that comes from an image. In the words of Gunther Kress, “Images are plain full with meaning, whereas words wait to be filled” (Kress 4). Images are more attractive than words, and in many ways our society prefers them. For example, many have abandoned reading the newspaper all together, while some only read it for the comics. In place of this textual news source there are websites that prominently feature pictures with some words to detail stories. With advancements in technology, our society has become fascinated with the power of the image. Snap chat, pinterest, and instagram are some of the more popular ways people use images rather than words. Images are not necessarily replacing words, we have just discovered the empowering emotional affect that is captured through a picture in a way words cannot.
Comic strips and graphic novels go beyond using only images and creatively integrate text within each graphic. In his book Maus, Art Spiegelman uses vivid imagery in order to connect with his audience in a way that words alone cannot accomplish. In his story, the main character argues with his father that personal life details will make a good story and he says, “But Pop – It’s great material. It makes everything more real – more human” (Spiegelman 25). Just as personal details help to fill in a factual story, so do images represent what text alone fails to portray. Had Spiegelman simply written that his father was left alone with his wife because of the death of their many family members and child, this would not have had the same emotional affect as the detailed image version. He draws the wife lying on the ground and the words “I don’t want to live” are near her widely stretched open mouth, while her husband grabs her shoulders and comforts her by calmly stating, “No, Darling! To die, it’s easy…but you have to struggle for life!” (Spiegelman 124). Comics along with graphic novels are very convincing works because not only do they tell a story, but they also show what is happening.
Kress, Gunther R. Literacy in the New Media Age. London: Routledge, 2003. 1-8. Print.Spiegelman, Art. The Complete Maus. New York: Pantheon, 1997. Print.