One of the benefits of comics in general is the specific nature of their communication. That is, the combination of words and pictures can present powerful messages clearly and concisely. Will Eisner famously recognized this back in the 1940s and created a number of training guides and manuals for the U.S. Army, taking advantage of comics’ very nature to successfully explain processes that might be difficult to figure out from text alone.
While the basic idea is hardly new, having such educational and informative comics online means that they can be distributed much more quickly and easily. A simple click or two, and readers can share important webcomic messages via any of several social media channels. And, again, while the notion of sharing webcomics isn’t new, there are more and more out there that act as stand-alone pieces providing immediate advice or suggestions about very contemporary events.
Marie-Shirine Yener has responded to a recent wave of hate crimes by posting comics about how to interrupt or prevent them from happening…
- What to do if you are witnessing Islamophobic harassment
- How to support minorities during a wave of hate crimes
- Why Violence Is Not Dissident (in French)
She’s not the only one lending her talents to addressing current issues. Jamie Noguchi provides some suggestions for “correcting” swastika graffiti. Chris Kindred examines why the “safety pin movement” isn’t so safe. Meanwhile, Eleri Harris uses her comic as a sort of emotional catharsis as she tries to sort out her dual citizenship identity, and whether she truly belongs in the U.S., no doubt echoing the thoughts of many others.
These are generally pretty short, one-off comics but done by creators who are putting material online all the time. They’re not trying to follow an ongoing story or provide a daily joke/gag to make people laugh. They’re doing comics to inform and educate about what is going on in the world right now. Many people, not having faced issues like what we’re seeing these days, have no frame of reference of how to even think about things, let alone actually try to address or correct them. Comics like these, often by women and minorities who (sadly) do have to deal with this more regularly, can act as tutorials for people who want to be allies but don’t know how and/or don’t have a close enough minority friend to ask.
While these creators might not be developing long, complex storylines or progressing the art form with experimental designs, they’re providing an invaluable service to so many people who just want everyone to get along with one another and don’t know how best to deal with the handful of loud, annoying jackasses who don’t.