Monday, July 15, 2013

Summary, Conclusions, and Implications for Future Research

Sequential art is a “show-don’t-tell” medium. Since I am championing this medium as a teaching tool it seemed appropriate to use sequential art in order to summarize the key elements of my dissertation in the form of a graphic narrative. Basically, it was time for me to “put up, or shut up.” The art for each page was developed to fit an iPad screen, and since I am trying to mimic that visual experience for this dissertation I created this iPad in Photoshop, based on, but not copied from, a real iPad. With few exceptions (the book covers, and article pages on page #2) many of the visuals were created by me. For example: while the page from the book Feynman is an actual page my manipulation of it on pages #4 and #5 is my own design; the SmartBoard (pages #5 and #6) was created in Photoshop but based on an actual SmartBoard; I applied multiple travel stickers to the steamer trunk on page #8 (and distressed them); the computer (page #8) was built by combining photos of an old typewriter and an old television; the drive-in theater (page #12) is a photo montage (that is not the original sky that went with the cars); and even the “Smiley Faces” were created directly in Photoshop. This is a very arts-based presentation showcasing my skills as a graphic narrative writer, visual artist, graphic designer, and digital photo manipulator all in service of teaching higher-level concepts through the use of a visual art medium.

As with all graphic narratives the key is to know when to let the images speak for themselves and carry the story. On page #1, for example, I introduce a version of my Purpose Statement, and present it with the use of a modified title and dialogue (word) balloon. However, the visuals on the page tell a parallel story. The visuals, once decoded, are a visual biography of myself. This is where I work at home, and while it is a lot less cluttered in the illustration all the essentials are here. Some of the elements are obvious. I am drinking from a Pittsburgh Steelers mug, which is an indication of where I am from. The books I have written are sitting on top of my printer, and the IPPY Award I received is behind the router. Some elements are a bit more subtle. My clothing is casual because I want the reader to be relaxed, and rather than fill the area with a flat color I chose to scan my own shirt and jeans, which makes the art all the more personal. The Graphic Narrative Model on my monitor foreshadows its discussion on page #3. Some elements are decipherable only if you know me very well. My illustration of my boys is on the card on top of the computer. I was a comic book inker, and one of my tryout pages for a story is on the iPad. The first character I ever drew was Snoopy. While these elements are not part of the main storyline, they are, as stated previously, in parallel to the main story since they are part of my résumé. They act in the same fashion as an author’s bio at the end of an article, and if this were an actual iPad, all the reader would have to do is tap on any of these elements and a text box or hyperlink would lead them to a more detailed explanation.

The graphic narrative portion follows a fairly straight-forward summary of the dissertation: Purpose Statement (p. #1); background to the study (pp. #2-3); how graphic narratives relay information and related theories associated with cognitive and visual learning skills (pp. #3-6); conclusions and recommendations (p. #7); applying learned information and proposing how graphic narratives can be used as teaching tools (pp. #7-12); and closing statement (p. #12). 

You may view the pages in this blog, or you may download a hi-res pdf of the entire 12-page conclusion by clicking on the link below. You have my permission to distribute this freely, but please do not publish it anywhere in hard copy without my permission. My email address is

For those who are interested, I am also including a link to my references. The bibliography is sub-divided by category, and since it is 29 pages this is the easiest way to include it.

would like to thank my dissertation committee members: Professor Clayton Funk, Professor Arthur Efland, Professor Jared Gardner, Professor Shari Savage, and my Adviser Professor Candace Stout who championed this dissertation from the start. I would also like to thank Professor Christine Ballengee-Morris, Professor Patricia L. Stuhr, and my fellow students who have walked this path with me. Finally, I would like to thank my 16 interviewees for their time and patience. I will be including their interviews in subsequent blogs.

Stephen Bissette: Graphic Narrative writer and illustrator best known for his work on Swamp Thing for DC Comics.

            Professor at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont.

            Comic Book Rebels (1993). New York: D.I. Fine. Co-Author.
            Tyrant (1994-1996). Wilmington, VT: Spiderbaby Graphix. Author & Illustrator.
            Teen Angels & New Mutants (2011). Encino, CA: Black Coat Press. Author.

Tom Brevoort: Senior Vice President and Executive Editor, Marvel Entertainment (Marvel Comics).

Kevin Cannon & Zander Cannon: Graphic narrative writers and illustrators.

            The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA (2008). New York: Hill and Wang. Illustrators.
            T-Minus: The Race to the Moon (2009). New York: Aladdin. Illustrators.
            Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth (2011). New York: Hill and Wang. Illustrators.

Josh Elder: Founder and President of Reading With Pictures, Chicago, IL, an educational non-profit dedicated to facilitating the use of comics in the classroom in order to promote literacy and the visual arts, and improve educational outcomes for all students.

Jared Gardner, Ph.D.: Professor of English and Film at The Ohio State University where he is also the Director of the Popular Culture Studies program.

Jay Hosler, Ph.D.: Professor of Biology, Juniata College

            Clan Apis (2000). Columbus, OH: Active Synapse. Author & Illustrator.

            The Sandwalk Adventures (2003). Columbus, OH: Active Synapse. Author & Illustrator.

            Optical Allusions (2008). Columbus, OH: Active Synapse. Author & Illustrator.*

            Suspended In Language: Niels Bohr's Life (2009) Ann Arbor, MI: G.T. Labs. Illustrator.

            Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth (2011). New York: Hill and Wang. Author.

            * The production and publication of Optical Allusions was made possible through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Dean H. Johnston, Ph.D.: Professor of Chemistry, Otterbein University.

            Research and Teaching Interests: Synthetic inorganic chemistry, X-ray crystallography, Photophysical properties of metal cluster systems, Molecular symmetry, and Structural chemistry.

            Professor Johnston also serves as the Director of Undergraduate Research and Creative Work at Otterbein University.

Wendy Johnston, Ph.D.: Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Biology, Otterbein University.

Caitlin A. McGurk: At the time of the interview Miss. McGurk was the Visiting Curator for the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at The Ohio State University. She is now that institution’s Engagement Coordinator.

Jim Ottaviani: Writer and publisher of comics and graphic novels about scientists.

            Masters in Nuclear Engineering, University of Michigan.
            Masters in Information and Library Science, University of Michigan.

            Librarian at the University of Michigan, and the Coordinator of Deep Blue the University’s personal research and intellectual property database.
            Fallout (2001). Ann Arbor, MI: G.T. Labs. Author.
            Suspended In Language: Niels Bohr's Life (2009) Ann Arbor, MI: G.T. Labs. Author.
            T-Minus: The Race to the Moon (2009). New York: Aladdin. Author.
            Feynman (2011). New York: First Second Books. Author.
            Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas (2013). New York: First Second Books. Author.

Stephen Saffel: Senior Acquisitions Editor, Titan Books. Responsible for acquiring and editing original and tie-in fiction, illustrated books, comics and strip collections.

            Former Editor for Marvel Entertainment (Marvel Comics).

Mark Schultz: Graphic narrative writer and illustrator.

            The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA (2008). New York: Hill and Wang. Author.

James Steranko: Graphic narrative writer and illustrator.

            Mr. Steranko is a legendary figure in the comic book industry, and in the 1960s-1970s helped establish some of the visual iconography and techniques used by graphic narrative creators today.

            In 1976, Mr. Steranko created the “Visual Novel” Chandler, which is considered one of the first graphic novels.

            Chandler: Red Tide (1976). New York: Byron Preiss.
            Steranko: Graphic Narrative (1977). Winnipeg: The Winnipeg Art Gallery.
            Visual Storytelling: The Art and Technique (2002). New York: Watson-Guptill.

Kim Thompson: Vice President, Editor, and Co-Publisher at Fantagraphics Books.  For over thirty years Mr. Thompson has championed the cause of alternative comics in the American market. A long-time proponent of European comics, Mr. Thompson has also translated the work of a number of international cartoonists published by Fantagraphics.

            Among some of the many notable cartoonists published by Fantagraphics Books include: Jessica Abel, Peter Bagge, Ivan Brunetti, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Roberta Gregory, Joe Sacco, and Chris Ware.

A Columbus Public Library librarian who wished to remain anonymous.


  1. Hi Brian,

    Love you work here. I'm working on a presentation for a conference on using new creative methods for teaching in the humanities. I'm wondering if there is any chance I could get a hold of your dissertation for my research.

    Look forward to hearing from you.


  2. Hi Issac,

    Thank you for your comment. This Wednesday (9/4/2013) marks the 1 year anniversary of the blog. I will be posting a link to a pdf of my dissertation along with two of my interviews.



  3. A fluid, informative and a very good post indeed. I always read and comment positively on education related articles. Just to let you know that I am now following your blog. Thanks, Steve
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