Comics & Literacy

Multiliteracies and the Old New Media of Comics


Scott McCloud (1993) dates comics as a modern form of expression back to the mid-1800s prints of Rudolphe Topffer (p. 17), and, by his definition of the form, traces the medium as far back Egyptian paintings, circa 1300BC (p. 14). So, it seems somewhat odd to discuss comics as new media, the latter being generally conflated with information communication technologies. Nonetheless, there are overlapping characteristics that indicate the usefulness of comics in multiliteracies education.

"Comics is obviously multimodal, but that in and of itself is unremarkable.  TEXT is multimodal.
But multiple modes of meaning making can be categorizing and analyzed through measurements of relative "dominance" and "salience" of particular modes over others within various forms of multimodal communication (Kaltenbacher, 2004). 

So, for example, the use of size, and color in the sentence "TEXT is multimodal" above, have more salient modes, dominant size and color, compared to the other sentences on this website.

One of the things that is interesting about the use of comics in multimodal literacy education, is that comics juxtaposes dominant modes of image and text in a nature that is similar to new media.