Words or pictures: Which tells the better story? Debate intrigues young readers at SIBF 2022
Illustrations are as important as words for the younger generation of readers, say panelists at 41st Sharjah International Book Fair
Sharjah, November 10, 2022
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, youth are more drawn to illustrations before enjoying the pathway of the story.”
She added that while colours add more vibrancy to drawings, the Japanese tradition of black and white mangas also attract the youth 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 kid,” she said.
“Kids love sharing their thoughts with their friends. If we produce good content, the word will spread quickly among their peers,” Fatima 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 keen observers of different aspects of the books they are reading.
1-4 General photo during the session