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Fawaz Qashat

Let’s Just Take It From The Top

Written by Fawaz Qashat
SDSU Biology Major, 2021

Episode 5 of WandaVision gave so much content to fans that contains a mixture of references to the comics, the reveal of the deeper plot, and some exciting new characters. Diving straight to the first few minutes of the opening, when Agatha comes in and tries to carry the babies, she looks at Wanda and asks her if she can carry the babies outside the script of the show. Wanda can be seen nudging Agatha with her arm as if to tell her to go back to character.


Marvel Studios WandaVision Image

Later on, we see S.W.O.R.D. debriefing Wanda’s past and talking about her journey throughout the movies. This entire scene is a reference to Avengers Disassembled #503 (1998) by Brian Michael Bendis when Doctor Strange shows up and tells the Avengers about Wanda’s tragic and painful past. He explains to them how Wanda’s dark past drove her to the extremes and made her lose control of her powers.


Avengers Disassembled #503 (1998) by Brian Michael Bendis

In the scene where we meet the Visions’ new dog, Wanda gives him the name Sparky which is a nod to the comic series The Vision (2015) by Tom King in which Vision builds his family a robotic dog and names him Sparky. In that comic Sparky is green, but his size and breed is spot on in the show.


The Vision #8 (2015) by Tom King

When Vision is upset about Wanda using her powers in front of Agatha, Billy interrupts Vision and asks him if they can keep the dog. This was a way for Wanda to distract Vision by using her kids to change the subject. In Avengers Disassembled, Wanda can be seen doing this several times throughout the story where her children’s dialogue reflects her thoughts and feelings.


Avengers Disassembled #503 (1998) by Brian Michael Bendis

The commercial for this episode was for a paper towel brand called Lagos. This is referring to Wanda’s incident in Lagos, Nigeria in Captain America: Civil War where she accidentally blew up a building while trying to stop Crossbones from detonating himself.

After Vision comes home from work and he and Wanda get into a fight, they begin yelling at each other in a side view shot which is a direct reference to a specific comic panel in The Vision #7 where we see Wanda and Vision having a loud argument about her kids not being real.


The Vision #7 (2015) by Tom King

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Fawaz Qashat

We Interrupt This Program

Written by Fawaz Qashat
SDSU Biology Major, 2021

Episode 4 of WandaVision came as a surprise to everyone when we saw that it was not a sitcom style episode, but rather a short MCU movie style episode to explain to fans what everything means so far in the Westview anomaly. This, however, did not deplete the references and Easter eggs marvel placed for readers of the comics. To start off, S.W.O.R.D. in the MCU stands for Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division. In the comics, it stood for Sentient World Observation and Response Department. Although only two words differ, this changes the focus of the entire group. Whereas in the comics they dealt with different planets and universes, the MCU adaptation shifted the focus to weapons of all kinds. From the infinity gauntlet to Stark’s array of armors and gadgets to even the Vision!


The Peak, headquarters of S.W.O.R.D.
Art by Steve Sanders.

Later on, as Monica Rambeau is going back to work at S.W.O.R.D., we can see a plaque with her mother’s image on it that reads, “Maria ‘Photon’ Rambeau.” This is a reference to Monica in the comics who goes by Photon as her superhero name. This could be a way to allow Monica to adopt the name which represented her mother in the future when she joins the Avengers.


Image of Monica Rambeau from the Marvel Database

The location of Westview being in the state of New Jersey is a direct reference to the comic series Vision and the Scarlet Witch (1985) by Steve Englehart. In that comic series, Wanda and Vision live in a town called Leonia which is also in New Jersey. Even though the name of the town differs, having its state be the same was a nice way to give a little Easter egg for the fans of the comics.


Vision and the Scarlet Witch #1 (1985) by Steve Englehart

In the scene where Jimmy Woo and Dr. Darcy Lewis are announcing the names of the townsfolk who have been cast as actors by Wanda, Abilash Tanden is said to play Norm, Vision’s friend at work. The name Norm is a nod to that same comic series, Vision and the Scarlet Witch. In that series, Norm is the name of the person who sells Wanda and Vision their new home in Leonia but also stirs up trouble later on by being in an affair with Pietro’s wife, Crystal. One can compare the fact that in the comics, Norm stirs up trouble for Wanda and Vision as he does in the show in the next episode by being the first to be awakened from his role in the show and exposing Wanda, but that’s for next week.


Vision and the Scarlet Witch #1 (1985) by Steve Englehart

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Luke Heine

Comics in the CSUs: Cooperation and Collaboration to Come!

Written by Luke Heine
SDSU History Major / Weber Honors College, 2021

One of the most exciting developments in recent years for comics enthusiasts is the growing acceptance of, and acclaim for, graphic works in academia. Institutions of higher learning have begun to recognize the significance and potential of the medium, which is at last poised to take its place among the fine arts and literature. On Monday, April 19th, in my role as Comics@SDSU student researcher in Spring 2021, I had the pleasure of attending a gathering of faculty from across the CSUs, assembled to discuss the role of comics at their campuses and to collaborate on new ways to advance the role of these works in education. As the minute-taker for this event, I can happily affirm that this gathering marks a bright future to come for Comics in the CSUs, and I am excited to convey some of the meeting’s take-aways from my perspective as a CSU student and comics fan.

The meeting kicked off with introductions and an overview of what the CSUs have been doing with comics to date. In attendance were representatives from ten CSUs — Chico, Dominguez Hills, Fresno, Los Angeles, Northridge, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Marcos, and San José – quite the gathering!  From the presentations by these passionate faculty, it was clear to see that comics are already taking center stage on these campuses, from CSULA’s Eagle-Con, SFSU’s Interdisciplinary Comics Studies Minor, Comics @ CSUN, and of course our own Comics@SDSU initiative. Indeed, the achievements of these universities are too exhaustive to list in full here, but they include initiatives such as a faculty person taking students to Japan to study manga, comic arts exhibitions, curriculum development, academic conferences (for faculty and students), comic creation by students, and research about comic-book reading. 

All in all, it’s clear that Comics in the CSUs is off to a great start on the individual campuses, but the meeting’s goal was cultivating collaboration across campuses, as well. To that end, following introductions the enthusiastic representatives began brainstorming how they might work together to take the initiatives they have started at their individual universities to the next step together. Exciting ideas for future collaborations included a touring exhibition, sharing of comics collections, CSU-wide internships and research, and ways to connect with each other in the future. By the meeting’s conclusion, it was clear to see that the future for a collaborative comics community across the CSUs is bright; the initiative is off to a promising start, and I for one can’t wait to see what the coming years will bring for comics-loving students like myself! 

Jamboard showing post-it notes with brainstorm ideas for future collaboration within the CSUs
Having listened to 5-minute introductions of what’s happening with comics at each of the campuses, Comics in the CSUs participants brainstormed opportunities for future collaborations
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Luke Heine

Spider Man, Spider-Man, Spiderman?

Written by Luke Heine
SDSU History Major / Honors College, 2021

Every fan of comics knows Peter Parker, that friendly neighborhood wall-crawler who brought the teen hero from sidekick to center stage. Bitten by a radioactive spider, he gained new powers and hard lessons on responsibility since his debut in 1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15. Since then, he’s leaped from the comic book page to stardom on the silver screen, with recent entries including “ Far From Home” and “Into the Spider-Verse.” Long story short, you probably are pretty familiar with the guy. Let’s take a look at the cover of his first issue where it all began. 

“Introducing Spider Man.” 

Cover of Spider-Man comic book
Amazing Fantasy (Marvel Comics) #15 (Aug. 1962)

What a cover! But wait, something’s strange; it’s spelled “Spider Man” not “Spider-Man” – isn’t it spelled with a hyphen? Maybe the first page of the issue can help us out a bit. 

There it is. Maybe just a misprint? But wait (there’s more)! Check out the bolded name of our web-slingin’ star in that big yellow text box. How’s it spelled? Spiderman – one word, no hyphen. So which one is it? Well, I think our next move is to look to the late great Stan Lee, co-creator of the hero with artist Steve Ditko. In a 2010 tweet, Stan Lee puts an end to the debate once and for all: “Spidey’s official name has a hyphen — “Spider-Man.” Know why? When I first dreamed him up I didn’t want anyone confusing him with Superman!” 

So there you have it folks: “Spider-Man” is the correct spelling. That’s sure to be a fun bit of trivia to pull out at the next party you attend; I’m sure it’ll make you as popular as Peter Parker! Or, better yet, swing by Special Collections at the SDSU Library and browse through some of the web-slinger’s adventures yourself. For more information about SDSU’s Comic Arts Collection, check out this research guide.

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Julia Wros

Sabrina the Teenage Witch – About the Aunts

Written by Julia Wros
SDSU History Master’s Student, 2021

Sabrina the Teenage Witch has been through many iterations since its first issue launched in 1971, including several lines of comics and television shows. The characters from the original run of the comics continue to exist in some form through the different incarnations. Two of those characters are Sabrina’s aunts: Zelda and Hilda. 

In Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Issue #6 (1971), Zelda and Hilda try to set Sabrina up with a warlock in order to correct her bad habit of being nice to other people. The character designs fit what the stereotypes of a witch would be. Large floppy hats, drab colored cloaks; all framed by the large bubbling cauldron and hefty spell-book. 

Her aunts take up the role of traditional witches on their quest to uphold witchcraft – in all of its wickedness. Hilda especially casts spells to mess with Sabrina’s friends, and to make life harder for others. 


Sabrina the Teenage Witch #6 (Archie Comics, 1971)

Almost fifty years later, in the 2019 run of the comic, Zelda and Hilda take on a more modern approach to witchcraft. The hats and robes are replaced by modern clothes and the kitchen has a retro-remodel. Instead of the two of them pushing Sabrina to embrace wickedness, they embody a more lighthearted take on witches. Hilda prepares food, and later slips Sabrina a secret poptart. And Zelda brews Sabrina a protection drink (as gross as Sabrina and Hilda find it). 


Sabrina The Teenage Witch vol 1 (Archie Comics, 2019)

However, once they descend into their witchy workshop, they go from “regular” aunts, to aunts who do magic and ignore the rules of reality. In order to defend their town, Zelda and Hilda lead Sabrina down into a magical workshop, armory mixture, where, in contrast to their lighthearted tone of the first meeting, they are both serious and firm. The shift in the perception of witches is more than just in appearance and demeanor. But also in the way that magic is done.  


Sabrina the Teenage Witch #6 (Archie Comics, 1971)

Zelda adds extra cinnamon to Sabrina’s drink, a spice that represents protection and love, and there are herbs and spices hanging out to dry. Instead of the large cauldron from the 1971 kitchen, there is a modern chemistry set and a mortar and pestle. The room where the aunts work on their magic resembles almost an armory; full of staves, masks, artifacts, and spellbooks. So how did we get this departure from a stereotypical witch with a floppy hat, obsessed with wickedness, to two aunts who blend magic into smoothies and have a magical armory under their house? 

In the nearly fifty years between these iterations of Sabrina, there have been several shifts in how witches are viewed, as well as a resurgence of witches in media; be they in comic form or in television shows and movies and books. Many of these depictions have been positive in nature. Even though we can only infer what the specific writers may have thought of Sabrina’s aunts, we can also see that their ideas may have influenced and been influenced by public opinion at the time. 

How will Sabrina, and other witches in media change over time? I am interested in how future iterations of Sabrina will look; both in comic form and the other media that it has been translated into, and how perceptions of witches could change how that looks. 

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Fawaz Qashat

We Just Don’t Know What To Expect

Written by Fawaz Qashat
SDSU Biology Major, 2021

WandaVision — Episode 3, “Now in Color,” dropped January 22, 2021 — was a major turning point in the show. We went from a light-hearted sitcom style episode to a full-on MCU scene towards the end which changed the style of the show in future episodes. Despite this dramatic shift, the references from the comics were still very prevalent in the episode. To start off, Wanda and Vision’s conversation with the doctor about the pregnancy is a reference to the comics when Wanda and Vision spent a majority of their comic series, Vision and the Scarlet Witch (1985), by Steve Englehart, discussing the pregnancy. Wanda would talk to Vision about all the changes her body is going through, all the kicks she felt, and anything that had to do with the pregnancy.

Vision and the Scarlet Witch #3 (1986) by Steve Englehart
Vision and the Scarlet Witch #10 (1986) by Steve Englehart

Later on, Wanda and Vision’s debate about the name of the twins is a call back to that same comic series in which Wanda and Vision decide on the names of their children. In Vision and the Scarlet Witch #12, however, they name the babies after they are born, not beforehand. Even the names themselves, Billy and Tommy, are accurate to the comics!

Vision and the Scarlet Witch #12 (1986) by Steve Englehart

The commercial this week was Hydra Soak. A blue soap in a square box which is a nod to the cosmic cube from the earlier movies of the MCU. In addition, it calls to mind Wanda’s origins with Hydra in Age of Ultron (2015). However, for all of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans, they can recall Coulson discussing a blue Hydra soap that was used to brainwash people (“Identity and Change,” Season 4, Ep. 17, aired 11 April 2017). Could this be a nod to that same soap and possibly a future hint of the two worlds colliding? Only time will tell.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. meme from Google Images

When Wanda is giving birth, she first has Tommy and does not know that there is a second boy on the way. This is directly referencing the comics where Wanda gives birth to Tommy first and Doctor Strange doesn’t realize that another baby is coming because he doesn’t show up in the ultrasound.

Vision and the Scarlet Witch #12 (1986) by Steve Englehart

In this episode, Wanda experiences all the stages of her pregnancy in one episode. The Vision and the Scarlet Witch comic series was dedicated to having Wanda experience each stage of pregnancy month after month. This serial-format is where the comic medium has a special aspect that allows you to live with the characters in real time and be able to experience their life at the same time as yours. It allows you to develop a connection with the characters. Had you been reading this comic as it came out, you would have had to wait an entire year to see Wanda have the twins. It’s a fun experience to be able to connect with the comics in that way which is something that television shows and movies lack.

Vision and the Scarlet Witch #1-12 (1985-1986) by Steve Englehart
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Fawaz Qashat

Flourish!

Written by Fawaz Qashat
SDSU Biology Major, 2021

We are back with a load of comic references from WandaVision — Ep. 2, “Don’t Touch that Dial,” dropped on January 15, 2021 — that are just peachy keen! In the opening theme for the show, Vision is depicted in cartoon form getting ready for work. As he phases from the closet down to the fitting room, a helmet can be spotted in the structure of the house. The helmet is that of the Grim Reaper, a comic book character who has a connection to Vision in the form of his brother, Simon Williams. Simon Williams, also known as Wonder Man, is a superhero capable of harnessing ionic energy. His brain patterns were put into a gem which was used to power up the Vision and give him a conscience. This led Vision to see himself as the twin brother of Simon, which Simon embraced happily. This news did not settle well with the Grim Reaper who seeks to kill the Vision throughout the comics.

Image of Grim Reaper from  Marvel.com
Marvel Studios WandaVision photo taken by Fawaz Qashat

In that same opening scene, we see Wanda grocery shopping with Geraldine (Monica Rambeau) in the background. On the ceiling of the store are several advertisement signs which each have a reference to the comics. Starting on the left, a cereal called Wonder Oats can be seen which is a reference to Wonder Man, the Vision’s twin brother. Next to that, there is an ad for Bova Milk. In the comics, the High Evolutionary is a scientist who experimented on humans and turned them into animals. Some of his test subjects included Bova, Wanda, and Pietro. Bova was turned into a cow and he considered this test successful. However, Wanda and Pietro showed no physical signs of change so he gave them back to their family. In addition to their connection as subjects of the High Evolutionary, Wanda and Bova share a connection in that Bova was Wanda and Pietro’s nanny when they were babies. Their mother, afraid of what Magneto would do to the children, gave Bova the twins to take care of and protect. The third ad houses a special nod to the comics. Auntie A’s kitty litter is a direct nod to Agatha Harkness and her cat, Ebony. In the comics, Agatha has a pet cat, not a bunny, who has special powers of growing into a large panther.

Marvel Studios WandaVision photo taken by Fawaz Qashat
Image of Wonder Man from  the Marvel Database
Marvel Studios WandaVision photo taken by Fawaz Qashat
Image of Bova from the Marvel Database
Marvel Studios WandaVision photo taken by Fawaz Qashat
Image of Agatha Harkness from FCBD

At the very end of the opening theme, when Wanda and Vision are sitting on the couch, a figurine can be seen on the table next to Wanda. The figurine has a W on his chest and wings on his head which is a nod to the Whizzer in Marvel comics. The Whizzer, also known as Robert Frank, is a hero who has super speed and was thought to be Wanda and Pietro’s father. For the longest time, Wanda and Pitero were known as the Frank twins until the truth was revealed and Magneto told them that he was their real father and that they were the Maximoff twins, not the Franks.

Marvel Studios WandaVision photo taken by Fawaz Qashat
Image of The Whizzer from the Marvel Database

When Vision is practicing his magic act, the Cabinet of Mysteries that Wanda rolls out has the shape of the mind stone on it. This is a reference to the source of power and connection for both those characters. However, the rays that are coming off the stone also symbolize the fate of the stone and Vision in Infinity War when Wanda and to destroy the stone. Not only is this a magical easter egg, but the names Glamour and Illusion that Wanda and Vision use for their stage names have a deeper roots in the comics. Glamour and Illusion are Wanda and Vision’s neighbors in the comic series Vision and the Scarlet Witch (1985) by Steve Englehart. They are a super-powered couple who uses their abilities to put on magic acts for a living. However, their deeper secret, which they keep from Wanda and Vision, is that their magic act is front to steal jewels.

Image of Glamour and Illusion from the Marvel Database
Marvel Studios WandaVision photo taken by Fawaz Qashat

When Wanda is walking from the kitchen to the living room to fluff the pillows, a mural can be seen on her left of the Hydra castle in Sokovia. That reference symbolizes the first movie in which Wanda had a role in the MCU as well as the first location she is seen in the opening of the movie. This castle is also where Ultron built his army before attacking the Avengers in Sokovia. Later in this scene, Wanda hears the SWORD helicopter crash outside. The helicopter also has an easter egg, the number 57, which is a direct reference to Avengers #57 (1968) by Roy Thomas and John Buscema, the first appearance of the Vision! As Agatha startles Wanda out of her helicopter confusion, we see Agatha carrying her pet rabbit, Señor Scratchy. The name is a nod to Agatha’s son in the comics, Nicholas Scratch, who is also a magic user like his mother.

Marvel Studios WandaVision photo taken by Fawaz Qashat
Avengers #57 (1963) by Roy Thomas
Image of Nicholas Scratch from the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe online.

The commercial for this episode is for the Strücker Watch. This references the person who gave Wanda and Pitero their abilities in the MCU by conducting the mind stone experiments on the twins. Furthermore, it symbolizes Maximoff’s brief time working for Hydra to get revenge on Tony Stark.

At the very end of the episode we see Wanda saying, “No” to reverse the tape and get rid of the Beekeeper (a.k.a. Agent Franklin). This line is a nod to House of M #7 (2005) by Brian Michael Bendis where Wanda says “No more mutants” to get rid of 90 percent of the mutant population.

The theme of this episode and most of the show is Wanda and Vision trying to fit into their neighborhood and be seen as normal. This is a prevalent theme in the comic series Vision and the Scarlet Witch (1985) by Steve Englehart as well as The Vision (2015) by Tom King. It brings in a new adaptation of an existing struggle within these characters which shows that even though the days and years progress, some struggles are persistent.

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Fawaz Qashat

We Are An Unusual Couple You Know

Written by Fawaz Qashat
SDSU Biology Major, 2021

A re-watching of WandaVision is richly rewarded since Marvel is known to bury clues and Easter eggs for fans of the MCU and of the comics to find and enjoy. And this enjoyment kicks in at the very start of Episode 1, in 1950s sitcom land where Wanda and Vision are living blissfully in Westview. Episode 1’s opening theme shows Wanda and Vision driving in their car as a newlywed couple. This shot is similar to a panel in the comics in which Wanda and Vision are driving to get to their new home. Later in the episode, we meet Agnes, Wanda’s neighbor whom any reader of the comics knows to be Agatha Harkness. Agnes/Agatha can be seen giving Wanda a plant as a housewarming gift which is a direct nod to Tom King’s The Vision #7 (2015) where Agatha gives Wanda and Vision a magical plant as a gift which allows a person to see into the future. Not only is the plant a nod to the comics, but so is the brooch which she can be seen wearing. Later on, as Agnes and Wanda are planning Wanda’s anniversary, the phone rings and Wanda answers, “Vision residence.” This is a reference to Tom King’s The Vision where Vision’s mailbox reads, “The Vision” symbolizing that the family has taken on his name rather than the Maximoff last name. If Wanda had taken Vision’s last name in the show, she would be Wanda Vision, which is why the title of the show is so creative. 

Vision and the Scarlet Witch #1 (1985) Steve Englehart
The Vision #7 (2015) by Tom King
The Vision #2 (2015) by Tom King

The first commercial in WandaVision Ep. 1 advertises the Toast-Mate 2000 by Stark Industries. This commercial has so much significance to unpack. First off, it represents the missile that destroyed Wanda and Pietro’s childhood home as seen later in the show. Second, it is part of the six commercials which can be compared to the infinity stones due to their nature, which would make this commercial the mind stone. The reason for that is because that event led Wanda to go to Hydra and get in touch with the mind stone. Finally, it is a nod to the comics where Wanda calls Vision a toaster after getting into an argument with him in Tom King’s The Vision #7. 

The Vision #7 (2015) by Tom King

During the dinner party scene, which itself is a nod to the Vision and the Scarlet Witch #6 by Steve Englehart (1986) where the couple host a Thanksgiving dinner, Vision is called dense by his boss as a way of referencing Vision’s ability to alter his density. Furthermore, Wanda calls Vision a meat tenderizer and hands him the tenderizer which looks like Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, referencing Vision’s ability to lift the hammer. The label of the wine bottle reads Maison du Mepris which translates to House of Misery in french and is a reference to House of M by Brian Michael Bendis (2005), a comic where Scarlet Witch loses her mind and creates an alternative reality where everyone gets what they want. This show is heavily based on that comic. Mr. Hart tells Vision that there is chaos in his household because everything is going wrong and that is a nod to Wanda’s powers in the comics, called chaos magic, that allow her to make this alternate reality. Towards the very end we see a hexagonal shape which references the shape of the town Wanda has controlled as well as the name of her powers in the comics, called hexes.


Image of Scarlet Witch from Google Images


Vision and the Scarlet Witch #6 (1986) by Steve Englehart

Having knowledge of the comics allows the viewer to have a sense of connection with the show. It helps provide the viewer a better understanding of the characters as well as the plot. They understand more of what is going on in the show and do not have as many questions as a viewer who has no knowledge of the comics. Furthermore, it provides this rush of excitement to see something on screen that you have read about in the comics. You feel more experienced than the average viewer and can start to understand the direction of the show before anyone can guess it. Finally, it helps you develop a greater appreciation for both the comics and the show because of the way their elements have been incorporated.

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Luke Heine

Why the Graphic Matters: Insights from Scott McCloud

Written by Luke Heine
SDSU History Major / Honors College, 2021

Images are everywhere: street signs, safety warnings, and of course, comic books. Many early forms of writing were pictorial in nature, from Egyptian hieroglyphics to ancient Chinese characters. What’s more, images have a unique and powerful ability to communicate in a way  that is nearly universal. It’s clear that graphic media have been, and continue to be, central to how ideas are conveyed. But sit down, and think for a moment – name five works of fiction of high prestige. For written works, it’s easy: The Great Gatsby, Moby Dick, Crime and Punishment, To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men… the list could go on and on. Many of these you’ve doubtless read in English class, or in an institute of higher learning. But can you say the same about comic books? For your average person, the answer is likely no, but as I mentioned earlier, images are everywhere, and integral to the human experience. So why is this the case?

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Scout McCloud, hosted by SDSU’s Arts and Culture Club. For those of you unfamiliar with McCloud, he is a comics artist, writer, and theorist best known for Understanding Comics (1993), Reinventing Comics (2000), and Making Comics (2006). According to McCloud, every picture says something, yet academia and society at large generally haven’t trusted graphic forms of communication. Picture books, comic books, and the like are often labeled children’s media, and thus shut off from the prestige of their textual counterparts. In McCloud’s words, “at a certain point, we learn words have a multiplicity of uses, but leave art alone as impractical.” Now to those of you who do not number among the ranks of comics enthusiasts, it’s pretty easy to simply say “so what?” Well, according to McCloud, our perception of the prestige of graphic media is quite a big deal.

Let’s start simple, with a common form of graphic communication you’ve doubtless seen before: safety warnings. In his presentation, McCloud referenced the following image:

Image from http://www.scottmccloud.com/talkimages/

Text aside (which has its own slew of issues), you’d be hard pressed to decipher the meaning of the image without prior knowledge that you shouldn’t use elevators during a fire. While this example might seem funny, when one considers what its purpose is – saving lives in the event of a fire – it’s a little harder to laugh at the jumbled mess above. To prove this isn’t an isolated incident, McCloud provides more examples, such as this pregnant woman broadcasting wifi:

Image from http://www.scottmccloud.com/talkimages/

Or whatever horrors this sign hopes to warn against:

Image from http://www.scottmccloud.com/talkimages/

McCloud’s message is clear: “bad visual communication is inevitable in society which does not value pictures.” It leads to safety signs which fail at their life-saving purpose, allows advertisers to exploit those unaware of an image’s power, and devalues an entire medium that is fundamentally powerful. So the next time you pick up a comic book over one of the masterworks of literary canon, don’t be ashamed; a picture can go a long way, and we could all stand to appreciate the power of the image a bit more.

For more information on the power of comics, view the SDSU Library Catalog for McCloud’s works.