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F e a t u r e ö Why Comic Books are Mostly Pictures

by Raj V. Speckles
August 2000

Comic Books are mostly pictures. This fact is so widely appreciated one hardly need mention it. Often colorful, these slim picturesque volumes carry a dark underbelly seldom considered by their readers.

It is, perhaps, not a well known fact that comics have a difficult time reading. So often we laugh at a joke well-told without considering the pain from which humor springs. Fortunately, comic books can help the struggling comic. The painstakingly hand-lettered text helps comics read slowly, giving them time to grasp both content and context. It is from this that a punch-line develops. Imagine the human toll if the text were computer generated. Context would (and does) fly right over their heads.

There has been, recently, a call to remove pictures from comic books. Senate Bill AB101 would have banned the use of color in comic books and its companion legislation, AB192, would not only have prohibited the use of tinted backgrounds in multiple panel comic books but made it a crime to be in possession of one. Read a comic book, go to jail. Fortunately, both bills failed by the slim margin of one vote with one abstention by the Senator from Los Angeles. Proponents of the bills claim the abstaining senator received illegal contributions from the Writer's Guild, whom they accused of being nothing more than "a front for comics and their ilk."

For now at least, comics continue to have material that does not exceed their limited ability to read.

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