Moira Zahra


Visual Communication, the most effective communication?

At my busiest, I still manage to waste a substantial amount of time reading online articles, playing Brain Wars on my iPad, and my number one guilty pleasure... surfing, an online platform for user-generated / found content, mostly consisting of Memes, comics, gifs and pop-culture references.

I'm very much addicted to 9gag, it offers quick, funny, visual information and I often get to know what's happening around in the world in an instant, because you can be sure that someone will post it (or repost it) and others will up-vote it. But anyway, amongst the silly Memes and gifs, I do often come across interesting finds. This week I stumbled across the 'Rat Park Experiment,' a comic by Stuart McMillen. (Link here to the comic on his website) Stuart MicMillen draws long-form comics inspired by social issues involving science, ecology, sustainability, psychology and economics. 

'Rat Park' is a comic on the understanding of drug addiction and it takes us through a 1977 experiment that looked at the differences between drug intake (morphine) of isolated caged rats and rats that were in the company of other rats in a man made 'rat park'. Although the tests achieved surprising results, Prof.Alexander, who was leading the research, didn't go ahead with further experiments. I won't spoil the comic for you, go ahead and read it through the link above!

The point of this blog post isn't really the subject of Rat Park, but it's about how fast a comic can communicate the process and findings of a scientific experiment. I think this comic shows the power of illustration and how it can be applied not just in primary education, but even in secondary education and further education to explain complex subjects. Can comics aid in the education of the general public as well? I do often see illustration being used to promote change and education, but I think it's the powerful combination of illustration and narrative that has the potential to immerse the public and deliver an important message in a short amount of time.

I now keep imagining newspapers made entirely of comics, and websites that communicate everything via illustrations. What would that look like?