Over the past five years, the North American graphic novel market has grown from about $805 million in sales in 2012 to more than $1 billion in 2017 – nearly 20% growth in just five years. Unfamiliar with the graphic novel? Think about it as a book made up of comics content and while the word “novel” is traditionally assigned to fiction, “graphic novel” is used to define fiction and non-fiction works. They are now one of the most read forms of literature among teens and adults.

Libraries have amassed huge collections of graphic novels that cover a swath of educational themes and topics; science, history, English, and math. These graphical novels are now the fastest growing genre in the publishing industry.

Despite the commercial success of the genre in facilitating learning across multiple generations, until now the graphic novel format has been largely untapped as an organizational learning tool.

Demographic changes

As noted in our blog on why gamification now, the stream of Generation Z will begin to enter the workforce this year and by 2022 Gen Y and Gen Z will make up nearly 70% of the workforce. This changing demographic is instigating many of our proactive clients to explore a variety of nontraditional instructional design methods, including the graphic novel.

Here are a few of the benefits that might surprise you:

  • Visual and verbal cues aid learner understanding, interpretation and memory recall
  • Compelling content engages strong readers and serves communities of second language learners
  • Expressions help learners understand concepts and cultural norms that is often missing from other forms of learning content
  • The format boosts critical thinking about the presented concepts as learner must  interpret color, tone, language, expressions, gaps, and illustration detail
  • Shorter bits of text make it easier for all readers to recognize the main ideas.
  • Visual details help explain and reinforce complex or abstract messages
  • Information gaps between panels require active problem solving as readers infer what is missing
  • Exciting, new format entices interest and keeps readers engaged, but I guess that one isn’t surprising.

The graphic novel as a learning tool isn’t as much about “new”. Rather it’s revamping the success of the comic book and its success in communicating complex narratives quickly, expressing emotions and showing action.

Just like other methodologies, all graphic novels are not created equally. Reach out to us to learn more about this creative approach and how this format might fit you’re your learning mix.