The most unique aspect of comic books?

This might have been covered before, but I’ve never stumbled on the discussion, so bear with me. The other day a unique, if not the most unique aspect of comic books (sequential art as storytelling) hit me.

The comic book is the only storytelling medium which does not work as a social experience.

Meaning: Experiencing the story in comic books can only be done individually. It can’t be shared socially at the same time.

Comic books, as conveyors of stories, are the lonesome readers’ medium.

Films and TV are experienced socially. Literature can be socially enjoyed by reading aloud. Games can be played together with a friend. Looking at galleries/paintings is a shared experience. Theater is a social event. Verbal stories are the cornerstone of social storytelling.

But the comic book, sequential art with pictures and words combined to create a story, is the individual’s medium. It can’t be shared socially and simultaneously with the same effect, as all other storytelling mediums.

Comics is a medium to be enjoyed individually. It is a private experience, not a social one. Read a comic book out loud and showing the pictures to someone does not work, as they are not experiencing the story, you are dictating the story – like explaining a joke.

Comic books is the only true individual storytelling medium.


Captain Obvious to the rescue, or have you not thought about this before? Agree? Disagree?