The famous Scott McCloud (author of Understanding Comics) has helped Google out, when they needed to explain why they thought the Google Chrome Browser was such a gamechanger in the war between browsers.
But does it work? You could argue that the hard work is really in cutting down the text to something understandable – is it really necessary to have the text in speech ballons and some cartoonish people to deliver the wisdom?
And I’ll agree that the subject makes this comic one of the most abstract I’ve ever read. It virtually flies around with strange symbols all over the pages – and very often I don’t get any additional information out of the drawings.
Slow down the reading and serve a brain-break
What is does however, is slowing the text down, so I get a chance to understand the meaning of the words before turning the page. If something is particularly hard to understand, I can even relax a bit and let my eyes explore, while my brain is working frantically to make sense of the words. If I had just been handed the text, I would have read it so fast (or thrown it away) – that I wouldn’t have spent the time my brain needs to actually learn the new concepts.
The ability to occupy a reader on many levels is crucial in learning. Compared to a technical manual without any images, your brain gets the chance to switch back and forth between text and images – and still concentrate on the understanding! With no pictures in the booklet I would have been distracted too easily, when my brain needed a quick break, before the right synapses got connected.
Get your readers to relate emotionally to your story
A book without pictures needs to be interesting in itself (like fiction, poetry and drama) to make sure, that the reader keeps on reading. If it gets complicated, I can get a ‘brain-break’ by thinking about the persons involved and thereby relate on an emotinal level to the story.
Normally I wouldn’t react emotionally to a text about browser-technology, but the comics-approach also get me started here. Suddenly I relate to the engineers telling me about why this is important. Scott McCloud tells that he interviewed 20 people, before he could help out editing the text.
You’ll notice that the persons are all drawn, so I can believe they are the actual persons, who worked with this stuff. They have distinct personalities although all a bit nerdlike. And they all look very friendly – in fact I’m almost forgetting, that Google is trying to sell me something here, when I have these cute characters telling me what is right and wrong in the browser-war.
When Scott even draws me a map of Europe, so he can show me, where Denmark is located before telling me of the wonders of V8, I feel taken care of. Notice the googlemap-reference in the map of Europe with the zoom-slider to the left. No question that Google is behind this booklet.
As it got even more late in the evening, I didn’t finish the booklet completely. I couldn’t easily see how many pages were in the book, so I stopped reading at page 32, when chapter 4 was finished. But after that I couldn’t help going to the homepage of Chrome and install this marvelous wonder of a browser and see if really performed that much better. Mission accomplished for Scott McCloud and Google.
You can read the book here: (Update: The book will only show up in Firefox or Chrome. If you’re trapped with Explorer, then you can use this link)