I know what you must be thinking. Yes, the age old saying goes, “actions speak louder than words,” but I am not using it in its primordial sense. I am talking comic books. For as long as comic books have been around, and the term “superhero” emerged, there have been people who disagree with the concept. The basic idea is that learning only happens from “real” books. I disagree. The world of comic books ingeniously merges literature and art, although many would argue comics are neither.
Growing up as a kid in school I found it hard to see the significance of old stories and poems. As students, we were constantly bombarded by the idea that these old stories and poems were works of art, but there was only a lackluster explanation to back the claim. That does not mean that there is no beauty or significance in classic literature. It means that actions speak louder than words. Take Spider-Man for example. Peter Parker was a normal teenager with normal problems, then he was thrust into a brand-new world of responsibilities. Of course, we may not be bitten by a radioactive spider, but everyone has their “spider bite” of responsibility. This is not something learned from classic literature.
Combining art and literature is what fashioned superheroes as we know them today. If Superman was published as a novel, it would not have had the same effect. Seeing those larger-than-life heroes fly across the page, or go through hard times, is what reminds us that it is okay to struggle. It inspires the question, “If Spider-Man, a superhero, can feel defeated, why can’t I?” It is a visual reminder that it is okay to have flaws and struggles.
Art is why comic stories are so impactful. Reading words on a page about a kid getting powers from a spider and fighting bad guys sounds like the start of another Goosebumps book. It also inspires people to create their own heroes to continue the legacy, to continue literature their own way. That is the point. People like Shakespeare, or Edgar Allan Poe did it their way. There is no right way to write. Comics are just a medium of expression of creativity, and a way for people to relate and learn. Actions speak louder than words. That is why Shakespeare made plays. That is why people make movies today. Presentation is the action that speaks the loudest.