Writing an academic paper as if it were a comic book goes against everything we are taught about what makes for a good argument, a coherent theoretical stance, or a professional writing style. Despite the success of works like Pascal Croci’s “Auschwitz” or Art Spiegelman’s “Maus” and “In the Shadow of No Towers,” using visual images to convey serious academic information has not become a standard alternative to seemingly unadorned prose. The twenty years of research that backs up this presentation has been made public in conference papers, peer-reviewed journal articles, lectures and a popular book. But this comic format proved most challenging because there are few models with the notable exception of the Beginners Documentary Comic Books series from Writers and Readers Publishing. And like those series, rather than relying solely on original drawings, this comic uses commercially available clip art and manipulated photographs to demonstrate that this kind of work can be done without advanced art skills. These pages were produced using Adobe Photoshop and plasq’s Comic Life. Many thanks to the fanboys and fangirls at the Superheroes conference for their inspiration and to Angela for taking a chance on this attempt at making knowledge graphic.
This essay also appears in the anthology: Super/Heroes: from Hercules to Superman, ed.s Wendy Haslem, Angela Ndalianis and Chris Mackie, Washington: New Academia Publishing, 2006.
LOUISE KRASNIEWICZ is a senior research scientist in the American Section at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. She is the co-author of Why Arnold Matters: the Rise of a Cultural Icon (Basic Books, 2004), Arnold Schwarzenegger: A Biography (Greenwood, 2006) and Johnny Depp: A Biography (Greenwood, 2007).