Comics in education : the link between visual and verbal literacy : how readers read comics
This case study investigates how readers read comics. The work, based upon Roland Barthes' concept of relay discussed in Image, Music, Text (1977), considers that a reader tmderstands the comic at the higher level of the diegesis by switching between signifying systems. The research fmdings suggest that the reading of comics requires visual and verbal intermediate literacy skills and that textual coherence occurs for readers when they reach the critical point in their own reading. The coherence of the text and critical point for the reader are achieved as a result of the cOlmections between the signifying systems of description and depiction, at the level of the individual sign and the textual structure. The analysis of such data as the features of the comic and readers' responses to texts, proposes a model based upon the concept of a core and periphery spiral. It suggests that knowledge frameworks, visual and verbal literacy and the metalinguistic skill of 'relay' are required to read the comic text; but in order to reach a critical point for understanding these need to be synthesised with affective responses. The comic form is also placed into a cultural and literacy context and implications of the fmdings for using this form in education are discussed.