Languages Magazine

The Visual Language of Comic Books

By Expectlabs @ExpectLabs


In English we read in a Z-pattern; first from left to right, and once we hit the end of the page, we stop and continue on the upper left-hand side of the next page. This traditional reading path gets transposed in comic books, where frames can take the form of various shapes; panels can overlap or nest within one another, and parts of pages can be entirely empty. Neil Cohn from UCSD recently published a study that analyzes the new reading paths that emerge from these complex layouts.

Cohn found that comic book readers did not follow the traditional Z-path approach while navigating variegated panel arrangements:

"When a single panel ran down the entirety of the right side of the page, readers were more likely to read each panel on the left side before moving to the right. In this case, the readers were reading vertically instead of across the page."

Read (in a Z-path, of course) the rest of the study here

(via Visual Language Lab)

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