Comprehending comics and Graphic Novels: Watchmen as a Case for Cognition
Research on the cognitive activities that underlie text processing has revealed a variety of influences on and consequences of our reading experiences. To date, though, cognitive psychologists who study reading processes have mainly focused on how people perceive and comprehend written text. We discuss herein some of the ways in which comic book comprehension might align with, and differ from, text-only comprehension. We use Watchmen (Moore & Gibbons, 1986-1987) as a case example to highlight how cues in the graphic novel, readers’ background knowledge, and inferences derived from the interactions of those cues and knowledge serve to support and enhance comic reading experiences. Such an analysis helps extend the purview of models of comprehension by considering how readers process materials that include both texts and graphics, of which comic book materials are an important exemplar.