Is "visual language" just another name for "comics"?
No. Despite their
connections, "visual language" and what we have come to
call "comics" are two separate things — though they have a complex
relationship. While comics (the objects and culture) have provided
the most prominent avenue for visual language use through the last
century, comics are not visual language. The best way to
think of this relationship is that visual language is the language
that comics are often written in, the same way that novels
are written in text. You can read more about this relationship
in my book.
Are there any books I can read about visual language?
Yes! My book
Early Writings on Visual Language
collects and refines many of my writings on visual language theory.
Signed copies are orderable online. I am currently at work on a newer, more updated book on my theories, which is due to be published in late 2013.
Do you speak on your theories?
Yes! I love speaking
about visual language, and have given talks at venues ranging from
CAST Inc. to the
Conference, to the Scottish
Word and Image Group and Museum
of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, among others. I am enthusiastic
to present at other places as well. Topics can include theory, methods
of production, education, and social implications. Please email
me and check out my speaking page if
you are interested.
How long have you been studying visual language?
I have been writing
creatively in this form for most of my life. The actual research of
visual language analytically can be said to have been inspired when
I was sixteen and read Scott
Comics, though it didn't develop into a full blown linguistic
study until I was an undergraduate in college at UC Berkeley. I have recently received my Ph.D. in Psychology
at Tufts University, where I focused mostly on the cognitive neuroscience of understanding sequential images.
What "artistic" work in visual language have you done
besides just research?
My 280 page book,
a variety of my creative vignettes and short stories from several
years ago. Several of these works are readable
online, including my 24 hour comic, Matilda's
Dream, and A Love Story.
In 2004, I "visually adapted" a book of political criticism
the People: A Call To Take Back America, by author
Thom Hartmann. It is found
for purchase at finer bookstores everywhere, and signed copies are
How do you foresee the future of visual language?
I can't really
answer this question fully in brief, since I think the potential for
visual language is truly incalculable so long as it is treated and
accepted as language. To start, visual language can be applicable
wherever written language is used: books, magazines, newspapers, online...
anywhere! I think that once people break the conception of visual
language as being tied to the social category of "comics"
or "art," the real growth can begin. Also, people need to be able
to have an easy avenue for being able to write in the form, which
I am also at work on. A number of these issues and the challenges
to them are discussed in my articles for Comixpedia,
linkable from this page.
Can I print and distribute your webpage or work?
By all means:
Yes! However, if you do so, please maintain copyright and byline information.
Also, I would appreciate it if you emailed
me. This is not a requirement to ask permission,
I'm just curious to know where interest has been sparked and where
my work might be distributed.