About The Project

“The Comic Book as the Ideal in Storytelling” is a collection of academic essays that sprang out of the idea that the comic book/graphic novel format is the ideal when it comes to storytelling and information transmission.

© Constantine Koutsoutis


The "Action Philosophers" As An Educational Text Model

 As educational tools, the textbook has stood as one of the standards of modern education. Tomes dedicated to singular subjects, they are developed to assist both as raw material resources but also as guide-alongs to in-school/in-classroom activities related to those particular subjects in helping increase the knowledge base of students. However, outside of the learning-oriented classroom environment, textbooks on their own are insufficient at being effective teaching tools. Furthermore, textbooks within classrooms often cannot function effectively due to the way the information within is framed. 
As a literary medium, graphic sequential storytelling (comics) are a far more effective format for breaking down large chunks of information into easily-digestible groupings that can be used as a learning too. In the comic book series “Action Philosophers!” by writer Fred Van Lente and artist Ryan Dunlavey, the non-fictionalized story is in fact comic book breakdowns of the various backgrounds and defining theories of history’s greatest philosophers. The comic, collected into 2009’s “The More Than Complete Action Philosophers!” (Evil Twin Comics), is an example of the effectiveness of the comic-as-textbook.


"Essex County" & Blurring the Lines

The unlimited visual and storytelling potential of comics allows for a variety of effects to work seamlessly when non-realistic storytelling elements come into play.  Indeed, one of the defining characteristics of comics is the ability to “go wild” with visual and storytelling concepts and, unlike other visual mediums such as film and TV, not be limited by budgetary concerns when it comes to getting the look and setting you want.  As long as you can draw it, it can be done.
That ability to blur lines has made comics one of the best formats for telling stories from the point of view of younger protagonists, utilizing the trope of childhood imagination both as a vehicle to move the story along, for humorous takes on mundane everyday life rituals, objects, and occurrences, or to act as stand-ins for difficult and hard-to-understand concepts considered “adult” that sometimes children are forced to confront.  Bill Watterson blurs the lines between the adult world and Calvin’s world as a means of escapism in his comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes,” and Richard Thompson’s “Cul De Sac” utilizes this skewed childhood interpretation of the world around them for comedic effect. 


“Calvin and Hobbes” as a Critical Medium on Art & Philosophy

One of the greatest things about comics is that the medium has started to get acknowledged as just that, a medium.  Instead of just being seen as a genre of POW BIFF BAM, it’s a literary mode that’s just as valid as poetry, nonfiction, or fictional prose. And in that being acknowledged, it opens up comics acting as a critical mouthpiece just like other so-called “classic” literary works. Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes served as a unique critical field in comics. 
The syndicated daily newspaper strip, which ran from 1985 to 1995 and starred a boy and his tiger, was a groundbreaking piece of art and writing that at times could transcend externally-placed limitations on the medium of comics.  It was at that forefront of comics as literature that could be a way to critically look at other stuff.  The comic allowed Watterson to give his own take and express his own beliefs on art and philosophy, as well as acting as a way for him to air grievances regarding his constant battles with his syndicate over licensing. 


The Groundbreaking Nature of GHOST IN THE SHELL’s Page Layouts

One of the greatest assets that comic books and graphic storytelling have is their ability to transmit the maximum amount of information per page that most forms of literature can.  The classic manga GHOST IN THE SHELL is an example of this sort of information transmission optimumization that exemplifies great comic book storytelling.


In Defense Of The Traditional Comic Strip

There’s a lot to be said for traditional comic strips with three-to-four panel horizontal layouts. 
 New technologies and new art styles, not to mention a growing feeling amongst the cartooning world has lead to some incredibly groundbreaking work that pushes the limits of comic storytelling.  And not just in the comic book format, but also in the individual strip format as well.  And yet there’s something to be said for traditional types of strips that manage to wrap up a joke and or a plot point in four small panels.