Comics Simplifying the Hideously Complex

I love seeing this sort of thing: an MIT professor explains health care reform in comics form. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is around 1,900 pages and 400,000 words. I’m sure that most lawmakers have not read the entire thing. Professor Jonathan Gruber worked with illustrator Nathan Schreiber to put across the information in an 152 page comic called “Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How It Works.”

I sincerely believe comics have a stronger ability to convey difficult information because of the combination of words and pictures. This is not a “dumbing down” of the information. We are visually wired, and the statement that a picture is worth a thousand words is a cliche because there is a deep truth in that statement. At their best, comics use words where necessary and not just to describe what’s in the pictures. Each can communicate information in unique ways. Working together, the images and words can help people understand things much more quickly than using only one or the other.

Along with the comic, they also produced a very effective video that summarizes some of the points made in the comic.

You can read more about it here. I’ve been using the term “comics,” while at one point they call it a “graphic novel.” This points up an issue with the term “graphic novel,” as this is non-fiction and therefore NOT a novel. Here’s hoping that this sort of thing continues to break down the prejudices against the term “comics.”

While I welcome comments on this blog, I beg you not to turn this into a political argument. I’m featuring this comic because I feel it’s a great example of someone using the medium to explain something very complex, not to start yet another flame war.

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