In a lively session titled ‘The Comic Industry’ at the 41st Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), Lincoln Peirce, author of the famed Big Nate series, and author Fatima Al Amri, engaged in an exciting debate on which of the two is more important - words or illustrations.
Admitting that he gives more importance to words, Peirce said: “For me, words always come first. You can identify a great story if you have compelling characters and crisp dialogues. If the sketch is good but your words are not powerful enough, people will set you aside immediately,” he said.
“I fell in love with cartoon characters through newspaper comic strips, which had minimal panels, but powerful stories,” he said, adding, “Comics are the gateway for visual readers to have fun while reading.”
Fatima Al Amri, on the other hand, had a differing viewpoint. She said: “Images, right from the book cover, attract readers. Drawings formulate our impressions before words. In this visual age, the youth are more drawn to illustrations before enjoying the pathway of the story.”
She added that while colours add a greater vibrancy to drawings, the Japanese tradition of black and white mangas also attract young readers with their visual appeal. “Publishing houses today need to create more interactive content rather than the usual Q&A format. With new smart technologies, there is a huge possibility of developing content to align with the unique thoughts of each child,” she said.
“Children love sharing their thoughts with their friends. If we produce good content, the word will spread quickly among their peers,” Al Amri continued.
Enthusiastic children who attended the session asked insightful questions to the Big Nate author on the development and depiction of various characters in his best-selling comic series.
Moderator of the session, Shaikha Al Mutairi, said the questions from the young children imply that the reading culture is still strong amongst the new generation and that they are keenly observing different aspects of the books they read.
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