Show and Tell

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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.



2 thoughts on “Show and Tell

  1. Society wants everything to be lightning speed. People have become very impatient and don’t want to spend time on anything. People want the fastest phone, the fastest internet, the fastest car. This mentality has also spread to out literature. We don’t want to take the time to get a newspaper and read about the daily news, we prefer to watch it on the 10 o’clock news. We don’t want to read a novel, we would rather watch the movie. This mentality is to blame for the increase in graphic narratives. Not everyone is like that, but most people are. There are many examples thats can prove this. Like the author of this post mentioned Instagram, Snap Chat, and Pinterest are some of the most used apps because they rely mostly on images. Twitter puts a limit on how many words you can use. Facebook lets people upload entire albums so that other people can see them. People want to see things, they dont want to read, that takes too much effort.

  2. I completely agree. Pictures are able to display so much more than text or words. Because with text sometimes you have to create your own imagery in your mind and it may not be as strong as the author was trying to convey to you. But with original imagery, you are able to see the emotion and visual appeal of the image. Images have the power to connect more with your emotions because it is in plain sight. Especially for our generation and advanced technology. We would rather get on the computer and go to a website that displays the pictures and a few sentences describing the detail of the event, then to pick up the newspaper and read the full article on it. Images just do more for our generation. Maybe it is because we are so technically advanced. I think each generation varies with the whole text vs. imagery thing.

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