Thursday, September 11, 2008

Instructional Comics - Google Weren't The First

As part of the on-going online discussion about the impact and usability of the Google Chrome comic, fellow blogger Tom Johnson asked me if I had more samples and references for comic book style documentation.

As I mentioned before the "technical comics" I've done to date have been more like illustrated white papers than "how to" instruction manuals, but over the years I have come across a few examples of instructional comics.

Perhaps the best known among the comics creative community is the work done by pioneering graphic novelist Will Eisner for the US Army. Between 1951 and 1972 Eisner produced the P.S. Magazine - The Preventative Maintenance Monthly for the army, which combined comics, instructions and some great artwork covering a whole range of army equipment and procedures.

(The Virginia Commonwealth University has a complete digital library of PSM available online.) He also wrote and illustrated an document known to the US army as "DA-Pam 750-30 - The M16A1 Rifle - Operation and Preventive Maintenance" - but generally referred to as "Treat Your Rifle Like A Lady."

Other examples I've come across include:
- Emergency Roofing
- Playing the accordion.

And there are things like aircraft safety instruction cards (the ones in the seat backs) and numerous instructional notices (like this one about using your cell phone on the subway) that use comics iconography and techniques.

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