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Helen Capewell
OCA Learning Log
Student Number: 522802
Degree: Illustration
Current Level: 2

Life Stories


I hate the idea of the Government Issue: Comics for the People, 1940s-2000s. From photos of pages found on the internet, the idea actually annoys me. The only interesting factor about this book, would be that it is a collection from very well known artists that had created the works. It's interesting that even in the 40's, probably long before this as well, the government used public figures as a way to spread their weird ideas of life. It is complete and utter propaganda, created in a way that the "people" will enjoy looking at them. In fact, my understanding of "life stories" in this research task is purely propaganda funded by the government in some shape or form. Should Governments use public figures or, in this instance, the most famous comic book artists to help spread their message? Feels a little bit like selling dead tree branches and calling them fresh roses.

It is, however, interesting to see what measures the government and other large organisations will take in order to reach an audience they may otherwise not reach. Introducing the big sparkling, almighty word; Marketing. What a joy that wonder is.

For me, comic books take the edge off the seriousness of a situation, and therefore using them as a device to educate about warfare and what to do when there is a nuclear attack, for example, feels like the possibility is unlikely to ever happen, or worse, make the reality less scary. Seeing drawings of an incident that is beyond devastating is less shocking to see than it would to see real life imagery of the true and long lasting devastation nuclear can have. It's like having to go through the airplane safety rules in every flight, and sitting in front of a drawn diagram of what to do incase of an emergency, it seems unlikely to happen because of the little colourful drawings. The truth is, they do happen and have happened many times, and they are serious, as is nuclear.

Despite this, I do see the positives in using drawings to educate, and it mostly comes to memory. Do we take in the information differently when it is presented as an illustrated comic? Are we more likely to remember?

When looking at the two comic examples given in the research task, You notice the details in the illustrations. They feel old in their style, and what could have come straight out of a school text book for young teenagers. It seems, given that they are based on real life, they need a level of reality in them for it be effective educational material. I mean, this could be debated as I'm sure the same could be achieved in different styles.

I do love the idea of comics being used to educate. Perhaps there are useful examples in the Government Issue of this - If it isn't sugar coated propaganda on how to be a good citizen! Making them appear humourous seems to be effective.

When thinking of my own life and what might make a good subject for an educational comic (my lighthearted, nonviolent idea of educational comics that does not involve explosions), I instantly thought allotments. I have not long received a lovely allotment patch which has been a great challenge and a mindful necessity. As it is my first time ever doing anything like this, a good educational comic that would be a somewhat beginners guide would have been useful! Or just an ongoing series that takes you from absolute zero to having some confidence in growing fruit and veg. I wouldn't be surprised if such a thing existed!


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