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Comics and infographics

javierzarracinaMalofiej 2002: It’s hard to believe, but there are only three persons in the infographics department at El Correo, (this was in 2002 – ed.) - and still they’re able to rock the boat and do graphics, which take people with surprise.

The boss of the department, Javier, had prepared this session, which I had been looking forward to. At home I also advocate the view, that visual journalists can learn a lot from the comics. I hoped to get new ammunition for that debate.

Javier started off with pointing out what makes comics different from infographics:
Comics are: Fiction, Drama, Emotions, Exaggerations, Multipage
Infographics are: Reality, Information, Understanding, Clarity, One picture

No wonder why most graphics artists think comics can’t contribute to their art, eh?
The funny thing is, that just as graphics artists think comics are unserious and only suited for kids, a lot of journalists think infographics are unserious and suited for people who can’t read.

We blame the journalists for thinking like that, but at the same time has no intention of giving up our own prejudices towards comics.

So, what is it we should learn about?
1. Reading order.
A reader of a comic never gets lost. Pages in comics are easy to navigate, and your eye is never lost somewhere on the page. Lots of readers never make it through a big graphic.
2. Perspective
The individual frames in comics are often seen from different perspectives creating dynamic pages. In infographics we’re content with just one total-image seen from far away and above.
3. Ambience
In comics there are lots of small details that contributes to the story. These details sets a certain mood just by looking at the drawing – instant communication even if it’s done in very subtle way. In the normal computerized style of infographics we lose a lot of the storytelling details to cold, clear imagery.
4. Narrative drawing
In comics you’re used to show complex motion with several overlayed images. This technique has been used from time to time in infographics, but can be used a lot more.

And lastly: Don’t forget the Spirit of it all – (tribute to Will Eisner).

(This article was first published in 2002 in the former version of VisualJournalism.com)