Comics Unleashed: An AMA On Educational Comics For Adult Learning With Kevin Thorn
7:00PM Jul 21, 2023
All right, welcome once again, everyone to this Friday's Coffee Chat. I'm very excited to have a special guest with us normally, our coffee chats are
a big chat as the name would imply right? I usually put a question out there on the table, and just let you guys come together. And we answer that question. And we have a robust discussion about the question that's on the table. Today, however, we are doing something special, we brought Kevin in, and Kevin's going to do an Ask me anything regarding educational comments, and I wrote the blog last week. And I kept my fingers crossed that if Kevin were to read it, that I wouldn't be dragged over the coals, you know, for putting out that information or poor information. But I think I did an okay job with it. And the purpose here is to give you yet another tool in your toolbox to be able to create designs, or even holistic programs that connect or resonate with your learners on a different level. And so to that point, what I want to do someone who officially welcome Kevin to our coffee chat, welcome Kevin.
As Jaz Harrington's call on him to turn off my mute. Yes, hands. Yes.
Yes. And I've known Kevin for a long time, Kevin and I have known each other and I always give Kevin credit where credit is due. So my learning rebels logo back there on my wall. That is a Kevin Thorn creation. So Kevin was the one who developed my logo for me, and I am always grateful for him to help me do that. So again, credit where credit is due. But beyond that, obviously, his skill set is wide and deep in so much, you've just recently achieved your doctorate.
Didn't you? newly minted? Yeah, jazz hands, right.
newly minted. So now from here on out. We should call you Dr. Kevin.
You can have you like it. So I'm still getting used to that. I somebody called me that the other day. And I didn't turn around and I didn't respond. Right. And I was like, Oh, wait, yeah, that's me. So yeah, there's quite a journey. Yeah. Excellent. And I'll go ahead and
turn the mic over to you to let you introduce yourself.
Okay, Kevin Thorn. owner operator of nugget Head Studios, which is a kind of a boutique. All things creative, illustration, elearning, games, whatever comics, of course, I'm also the director of development for artists and elearning. And Chad and I are homies, my brother actually lives in the same town as as sin. And let's see, I've been doing this, my gosh, I'm retired Army. And then I got out of the Army, and I went into it. And then somewhere along that path, I was invited to the training department in a corporate environment. And that's kind of where I cut my teeth on basically self teaching myself all things elearning and instructional design. I did that for about 15 years. And then I quit and started my own company. And then I don't know I just had an itch to go back to school. I know what it was wasn't related. It's, it was an edge. But at the same time, I was asked to teach at the university because I had been guest speaking for different classes over the years, and I was on their advisory board. And then finally, they just came in as hey, we would like you to teach for us. I said, Great. And I said, Okay, where'd you get your Masters? Because I don't have one. Well, you can't teach for us. That's not my problem. Like, I know what I know, I can teach for you. But if if you got I don't have that piece of paper. So then they were just really working with me. And it really helped me get started to get to join a master's program that that I really was ever thought I would go get a master's degree. But I'm glad I did because it opened up areas that I thought I knew about, but I didn't really know so it would and then that just that just sort of ignited that passion. It's like okay, So now it's like I want to quit my job and go back to school full time, and learn everything I can. And then so I got my masters, I graduated in 2018, with my masters, and then we talked about the doctorate and things that for next year too, and then COVID was hit and. And then anyway, so let me just say, hey, you should you should probably go get a doctor, I said, What would I do? Why would I? Why would I do that? And then my advisory says, Well, you like comics, why don't you go research comics for learning? That's like, sold? Where do I sign up? So they were right on board with the whole idea of researching comics for education for learning adults from day one. So that was my inspiration to go back and get my doctorate. And that's what my dissertation was on, on comics and Adult Education and using comics. So, which now has opened up a whole nother world of questions, right? That I want to do more research. So if you're in here, and you're listening, and you come back and watch this recording, if anybody wants to fund some more research, just let me know. Got all kinds of ideas.
I mean, who woulda thought? Some kid? Did you get your doctorate in educational comics? I mean, that just blows my mind.
Yeah, it's, it still blows my mind. But and then the next big thing is I want to, I want to convert my research into a graphic novel.
Nice. See that? Now, that would be right up my alley, I will probably be able to understand and comprehend what you're reading that.
So like, the research, a lot of research is on. It's broken down into three things, the visual language theory informs comic design. And then, because we're in the world of elearning, it's interactive, and it's digital. So then there's the concepts behind the constructs behind digital storytelling. So it's the visual language theory informs the construction of digital storytelling, and then using the comic medium as the output. So that's sort of the research piece of it. So I just thought if if we were to take that research, convert it to a drawn graphic novel, then you're applying the research to an actual document, you're applying the visual language to a well, it wouldn't be digital storytelling, but it would be telling a story in a graphic way, about the research. So I just add a call to go do that, though, because that's going to take a long time.
Well, you can see in the comments there, you already have a list of pre orders for that. So you might say over it.
Anybody that wants to fund me for six months to stop working for six months to go do that. That'd be great. Do right on it.
Yeah, we should start a GoFundMe for that. Get Kevin's dissertation written in a in a graphic novel? There we go. All right. Well. What I find interesting about this entire topic, is the growth. You know, years ago, we weren't we weren't talking about this. I mean, I know you were doing it, because I saw the work that you did, for example, with Trish, right, which ratio that you did with the railroad company. Yep. You know, so I saw that work. And that was a number of years back. But prior to that, and even during that nobody was really talking about using comics in this particular setting. So I would love to pick your brain a little bit about where where did that realization happen where you said, oh, you know what? This could work. We could do this. Was it just sort of a natural evolution? Or did you have a moment?
No, I've I've always had that moment because unknown if you're familiar and Will Eisner. Will Eisner was doing this in the 40s he recognized the power of the comic medium for teaching adults in the 40s when he and you may not be familiar with PS monthly or PS magazine preventive service monthly was a military magazine that he wrote and drew in the military starting in the late 40s. And then when I joined the Army in the 80s I saw my first comic book, PS monthly when I was stationed in Germany, And I thought, you know, my world just came to us like, oh my gosh, there's a army comic book. But it was educational. And it was exactly what the cover said preventive service. So it was a several characters that you would follow month to month month. And it was about taking care of your equipment, whether it was your vehicle, your radio equipment, your weapons, whatever it was. And they were little little, they were just like, little pamphlet, think of performance support little comic book pamphlets. And I collected those while I was over there, and you know, came home, I had them in a box, and then my mom sold them in a yard sale one summer. We're not gonna go. We're not going to talk about that, though.
But so Will Eisner had that vision as far back as the 40s. But then we had the wave of the comic book, you know, the 60s. And then, you know, you know, the comic book ban, and, you know, comics are ruining children and all this kind of thing. So then later, when comics in the 90s, just started falling off, and then it kind of research and now they're back up again, of course Marvel and all that. But anyway, you think of comics, there's two things that come to mind. And literally one is the superhero genre, or the comic strip. And it's, it's hard to get past that, because that's, it's childish. It's, it's entertainment, it's not educational. But then when we look back at history on where comics been used for those really complex abstract topics, it doesn't get the awareness that it should, but it's been around for a long time. And so when I got into this industry, and I've always been a big comic fan, and always an illustrator, and an artist, so when I, even when I started in the corporate world, trying to influence these types of visual design in my work, and I'd always get this great feedback. And then, you know, do one little project and then a little bit bigger project a little bit bigger project. And then when I started my company, and I started out and we were, I was working with CDC, the Center for Disease Control was doing a HIV awareness campaign. And if you're not familiar, they did a zombie apocalypse or zombie preparedness, one on one. With which was the same as emergency preparedness. You know, all the little things you have to have for your 72 hour emergency kit, but they use the theme of zombies. So back when zombies were a big thing, right back in the early 2000s. So they, the CDC had a comic book made called Zombie preparedness one on one, but if it was based on being prepared for emergencies, so when they were doing this HIV awareness campaign, they contacted me and it's like, hey, we want to do a comic. So I was like, Okay, this is great. I don't have to sell it. I don't have to pitch it. So we did this big, comic, interactive, digital storytelling comic about the CDC. And it ran on their website for almost four years, five years. Wow. The shelf life on that was pretty amazing. But then that, that was 2012 2014. I think. At that moment, I was like, Okay, now I've got a reputable agency that has comics as a way to teach adults or educate or inform adults. There's something bigger here that I need to explore. So then I just kept doing that every time a new project would come up everything I was thinking, is this, this is a good fit for this medium. Yes, no. So then, over time, I was able to get more projects with, you know, coming to the US Navy have gotten comics for other health care Institute, the American Pediatric Institute. So what it takes, it takes an open minded client, if you will, a customer that says hey, I understand the value of this medium. Let's do if they don't understand then it took me going back basically taking myself to school, educating myself on why would this medium be a benefit to this topic? And here's why. So then I had to come up with a an elevator pitch, if you will, how do I sell it? How do I pitch it for those to get them more opened up? But just to be clear, it is not the right medium for every project? It doesn't fit everywhere. No no more than any other thing we choose. Like yeah, that's not video is not the best thing here or animation is not the best thing. So it's, it's just think of comics as a medium as Another output medium for, you can choose from. So I can keep going on and on and on. But I know there's,
well, that's what you're here for. That's what you're here for. And I think some of the questions that we might have one of the questions that we do have on our mentee board right now is, how do you determine whether or not a comic is the right tool? For learning intervention?
Low hanging fruit? Oh, anything, it's a scenario. So if you have, if you have a minimum of a two character dialogue, in a scenario,
perfect fit. multiple characters, obviously, anything like that? Going kind of down, I haven't really mapped this out. But I've given it a lot of thought.
Anything that you have to explain a, a complex? You know, like a sequence of steps or something that's complex, more technical? Because then you can you can bridge the reality, the you can bridge reality with the abstract. Because you can go inside that world. In anything that's abstract, like really difficult conversations like mental illness, or how do you teach empathy in elearning? How do you teach efficacy in elearning? So when you these abstract concept, how do you teach that in in elearning? Way, and this is where comics can come in the medium. That's where that comes in. And you can really explain those concepts at a deeper level. I can see this,
like you said, complex topics, things that tug at the heartstrings. So you can really use comics to drive an emotional connection.
Yeah, that's on your blog, the emotional engagement, right? So if we think of learner experience designed, I mean, that's what we do for a living. Our job is to connect the learner with the content, how do we do that. And there's all kinds of different ways that we've tried to make it more engaging, you know, that kind of thing. So with comics, you can relate to the learners environment at a deeper level than you can with photos and video. You can culturally represent a learner right in their where their world is, with comics that you can't do with other mediums that say you can't do with other mediums. But you're limited. If there's only so much you can do with stock photography. But do you have the budget to go on location to take all of the custom photography in an environment culturally that clearly not, we don't have the funds and the budgets and things like that to do that. So we rely on either creating our own visuals, which then falls into the skill gap. Or we have to rely on source like stock sources, which then become, because I might want to I want this environment, exterior, but I want this environment interior. But that doesn't look like they belong in the same neighborhood. Because it's a different style or something like that there's a different tone to it, the lighting might be different. So we get into the whole visual design of it. And then we go down rabbit holes, how many times I go ahead and let me see a raise of hands. How many of you spent three hours looking for one image? Right, we've all done it. Where you you design the environment. And then you create the environment with comics specifically to that design, every detail. My research was on a case study based on that we were working with the objective was reducing infant mortality rates in Northern India in a low fidelity, low literacy environment in this area of low income India. And a lot of the challenges were, they were taking the training, but they were not retaining the information. So we developed a comic, and we spent time talking to the actual learners. And we asked them one, you know, their, their, their interest in comics, and it turns out the learners. Now we can back up a little bit. We can say, oh, yeah, I want to do a comic and you're like, oh, yeah, the clients like oh, yeah, we'd love to do a comic but do the learners want. Is that a medium that would be it? Would they invest in it there. So let's go back to our roots in instructional design on that front end analysis. Part of that is learner content learner context analysis learner environment all we do our analysis. So we spend time in that audience asking them they're interesting comics and surprisingly they they all love the medium. And then we go into what what do you like the most? Do you like superheroes? Do you like fantasy? Do you like science fiction? What genre do you like the most? And superhero came out to the top, they like the superhero genre, like, okay, What style do you like? Do you like the more comic strip style, like newspaper comic strip style? Do you like the, you know, the, the adventurous Marvel comic type superhero kind of style? And surprising to me that we'd like the Bollywood style, I think Oh, okay. Right. So then we had to go down and research Bollywood. What are some of the stylistic things in Bollywood, right, a lot of lot of bright colors, and mandalas, and all these types of things. So then we generated some model sheets, some character models, each kid a couple of superheroes. But we were able to create these characters with traditional saris and summer colonies in the dress in India, where, and then created superhero characters wearing those, what you would typically see like in a Bollywood type environment. So number one, right off the bat, we immediately connected to the characters immediately connected to the audience, because they can relate to those care characters, because they're believable. If I believe I would see that character on the street down getting at the cafe, then I know that I would believe that character that is trying to help me learn teach something. So that they never thought there was that much in putting a comic together and learning copyright. You're just like, Oh, I just grabbed some characters and tossin Manson speech bubbles, and we can call it a day is a little bit more involved in that.
It's really that's really fascinating. That's taking needs analysis to a whole different level. Yeah, I mean, you're asking a whole series of different questions that I would never have thought to ask. And then also, you touched on something that I also connect with the fact that, you know, when you're dealing with an audience that perhaps is English as a second language, or low literacy, you know, where this can really help connect learning to those particular demographics. And I think that we've all had that experience, I can remember way back in my early training days, we were dealing with an audience that really low low literacy rates, and we had to really think out of the box about how we were going to train this particular group of people. And I wish I had thought of that, because that's just, that's just a no brainer answer to that question.
Yeah, that's where the visual language theory comes in. Because it's universal. Right? There is no borders. And I can communicate the power of comics is I can communicate a message that it doesn't matter what your spoken language is, you can read pictures, right? But then that gets a little trickier. Because when you get into cultural representation, and you want those images to be culturally Correct. One image or one color in one region of the world is mean something differently than it needs something in a different part of the world. So then you have to really get do your research to make sure you're representing things. So give me give me a perfect example. The project I was talking about in India, there was one scene where these two characters were nursing students together in class, and it was a classroom environment at a teacher at the front. And we grabbed some resource photos, and we drew some sketches, and we kind of laid out what we thought that scene might look like. And we put it together, threw some color on it and tried to, you know, some initial feedback is like, well, first off, we have no whiteboards. They're all chalkboards say, go see we're thinking modern Western civilization. In a low resource, low fidelity, low income, they chalkboards is a luxury. It's like a privilege. Like, okay, it's good to know. So that made us think more than well, we need to think more about that culture. I mean, get down to the D tails. So we went back and we redo the seat, we come back. And it's like, okay. They're all like think think of a classroom, everybody's sitting at a desk and they're writing notes, right? And the teacher is explaining at the front of the room, she's got to imagine that scene. Well, one of the characters had, everybody had like pencils or pens. And one character had a pen, and we colored depend red. And one of our stakeholders who is in India say, oh, we can't, we can't use that pen. And I was like, we were just kind of puzzled, like, I'm not sure what you're saying, say, well, we don't have access to ballpoint pens. All of our pens are disposable. We can't afford refillable ballpoint click pens, like a refillable ballpoint, click that. And that's what this image looked like, it looked like a, you know, like a little click pen with a barrel, you know, brass barrel around it. And it was just a little tiny detail in this larger image scene. And that one detail that one stakeholder pulled out and said, It just it's not. Nobody's gonna relate to that object. Because they don't know what it is they've ever seen it. It's like, oh, Shazam ring, Cooper. Okay. So that took us to another dealership, okay, now we have to be very careful. Every detail, we have to make sure the learner on that end knows exactly that they can say this is I can see myself in that class, I can see myself in this room, I can see myself using these objects. And there's a there's a number of those things like for instance, we draw a wheelchair in this healthcare environment. And we had, you know, the, you know, in the back of a wheelchair, there's a pole with an IV that you can hang, right? Yeah, no, we're talking. That's a modern wheelchair. That's not what they have. Right. So this is the older wheelchairs. We had a scene where it was neonatal. So there was a scene where mother giving birth on the table and the nurses around, and then the parents are in the background. And we do that scene. And I, I mean, unanimously say, oh, we can't do the scenes, like why not? See, there are no men allowed to be president during childbirth? It's like, oh, I didn't know that. So that's a Indian culture thing, right? It's like, oh, he raised the male figure out of the scene. So little cultural, things like that were really opened my eyes. And that's, so that was a, it was a three year project. I mean, it's pretty huge project. But that was the fodder all of that experience was the fodder for my interest in researching. If it's so different there. What do we what are we not doing here? What do we take for granted when we use this medium here? As opposed to well, what if I have a project in Southeast Asia? or Europe? What are the differences when it comes to visual language, visually presenting things? One is universal. But then we get into the details. And then cultural represents cultural representation, and character relatability. Those two are biggies. And I think that
those little details are transferable regardless of whether or not you're thinking about comics, or elearning, development, video images, etc. So I think all of those mindful details are important all the way through. When we think about learning design in general.
Yeah, mindfulness, that's a good word. And it's hard to do. Because we get so caught up in the workflow, we get so caught up in the details that we it's hard to step back a little bit and be mindful. And especially we get so close to our work. It's hard to see it with a subject objective eye, right. And then the abstract part of the teaching of you want to explain a mangled, answer some questions, but I was getting ready to go down another path.
Well, what are the questions that did pop up? Is more of the technical aspects of this is one. Do you have any samples that you feel comfortable sharing? And
I didn't? I don't, but I wish. I wish I would have been prepared. But no, go ahead. I can.
And that's okay. Because I understand probably there are some proprietary issues that you have to think through where you're doing it for clients, etc. But the other question that we did have was tools. So how do you go about? Well, I mean, the question here is, what tools do you use to create comics? I'll build on that. And say, Do you have a certain storyboard method that you use? You know, how is it that it goes from ideation to creation?
Well, the first tool that we all own and we all should use every day is a pencil and paper, ideas start on paper, not in your computer. And others fancy tools like Miro, and, you know, jam board and all this brainstorming tools. But you still have the you still have the digital noise around you when you're looking at a computer because you might get a dean here and a dean there. My first encouragement is shut the lid of your laptop, go to a quiet place in your room, or wherever you can go. Breakout, a 99 cent pad of grid paper, and a box of pencils. And then start thinking with your pencil. You don't have to know how to draw stick figures are fine. Just draw squares and lines and just kind of think through the sequence. Right? So sequential image narrative or sequential visual narrative. Another book that you Will Eisner wrote, is about how do you communicate through a sequence of images? So think at that rudimentary fundamental level, not about the details yet not about the style, not about how we're going to produce it or anything like that. It's this think of storyboarding, it's that method, because you're not going to think of storyboard right sequence, you're going in a document you write, well, this is going to happen this guy, now I'm gonna tell him this same thing, but you're just, you're doing it visually. Now from there. I mean, it's all what's, what's the word I'm looking for? I always get interesting when people ask me, what tools do you use? Because tools are not the tools are irrelevant? And using comments for learning. So the same thing, if you're going to design a scenario, just design a scenario. When you get to that point, then you say, okay, which medium do do I want to use to produce this scenario? Oh, I want to use beyond and an animation, or I want to do live action video, or do I want to do comics, so the output is irrelevant to the design. The caveat to that is, if you already know what your output is, then you can start thinking through that design. You know, like, if you're doing a live action, video, shoot, you're thinking of location and camera angles, and sets and different things like that. If you're doing a comic, you think, well, this, this style needs to be here. And this panel needs beer, and I need to bring this in. But tools, I'm old school, so it's pen and paper than its ink on paper. And then I digitize it. So then I use Illustrator and Photoshop and clean it all up and bring it to life. But there are a lot of great and beyond, you know, we're all familiar with that animation tool. But tools like that become as you know, if you work in these types of tools, you know that they're restrictive, this software, all software has limitations, and it's restrictive. It can only it only does certain things and it can't do other things. So then you're put into a shoe box because of your designs, like well, I want to do this. But then you get into this tool and a tool restricts you from doing your design, then you have to change your design to fit the tool. Then it comes down to skill, budget time, all that kind of thing, right. But if if not so much budget, but if if if you really wanted the buy in with a client that customers all that for a comic style, medium output learning experience, then you have to add extra time to the budget. So if you want this high end, comic type interactive digital story, I need more time to do that at a quality level. And then you tear it down depending on whether you do the work yourself or whether you outsource it like a contract to workout.
Another question that we had was how can we address making an educational comic accessible, especially those with vision disabilities.
vision disabilities, that's that's easier than the other part because then it's just doing good contrast checker and make sure everything's contrast and bold. You have to separate all your assets, so that the alt text reads each asset correctly. So you just depends on your focus on what the focus is of that image. So think of a scene, there's a background, there's elements in the scene as an object might be character, two characters. So if you layer all of those instead of one static graphic, if it was one static graphic, then you have a paragraph or an alt x, right, and you have to explain the whole what's going on in the whole image. But if you give them the ability to mouse over and move their mouse over different objects within that scene, that each one can have their own independent alt text, and they can explain where they're going. And then you'd have to take extra caution to how many of those elements are on screen at one time. So you might have to break it up a little bit. For the visual side, I'm actually doing some independent research on to character dialogue, and then I'll do three character multiple character later. But from an accessible standpoint, you have closed captions, and then you have speech bubbles. So the question then becomes, are the speech bubbles, a replacement of closed captions? Because if the speech bubbles were read by a screen reader, I don't need the conflict competition or the conflict between closed captions at the bottom of the screen, and then speech bubbles popping up here. So I'm working on some ideas to where the speech bubbles then become the actual closed captions. And the learner controls the pace of those speech instead of one big long audio file. It's broken up to where the learner controls. When this character speaks, then that way I can go back and forth. Why and hear that, let me go back. And then not only do I hear it, but I also see that speech bubble. So now I have I have total control over the conversation of a dialog. So I'm doing some experimenting with that. And hopefully, I'll come up with a good model that I can share soon.
Okay, well, I think that totally makes sense. Because that's the first thought that came into my head was voiceover. You know, for that. So if somebody wanted to hear audio, maybe an audio description or something along those lines, but that work?
Yeah, there's, there's so many, I mean, just think of all the assets that we have to think about, right? Like, if if I wanted to do a comic, and I want to do a, I did one for Cisco. It was a comic book, what it was, is they were they were sending people that work for Cisco for one year. And I don't know if it's still the same. If you work for Cisco, maybe you can tell me I'm correct or not. But if I remember correctly, if you work for Cisco for one year, then you are required to go back to your university and recruit. So it's like a job fair. So you go back to your alma mater, job fair, as a Cisco employee, and then try to recruit new talent to come work for Cisco. They would, they would do a week long training seminar in preparation for those job fairs. But it was like, you know, a couple three ring binder full of information, and then they would get back to their job fair, and they would be lost, they didn't know what they were doing. So they needed some kind of a performance support thing on, you know, so they can have with them at there. So we created a 16 page comic book. So in that regard, that design is printed, right? It's it's static images, panels, like you would simply read a comic book into a full page are never half page art. And then we're like scenario panels. So that approach is totally different than it would be for an interactive digital story where you've got to deal with audio, voice over voice over talent, artwork, all the assets network that the tool that you're using, the accessibility features and all of that there's so much more to think through. When it when it's an asynchronous tight delivery. You need more time to do that it would be to do the same thing as a book. Right? And even the same, may not think about this, but most most comic books are portrait.
Most elearning is landscape. Oh, yes. So which always think about storyboarding in a Word document that's portrait, top to bottom and then
elearning is landscape presented to you. So when you're designing a comic for print in a portrait style is different than designing a comic for a synchronous, but then what if you design an asynchronous digital story comic for elearning? But then you also wanted to use those assets in a performance support job aid after They take the learning. So then you've got how do you how do you design the assets to work in two different modalities, because one you've got preparing the assets for digital screens, but then also preparing the assets for print. Because print, the color for print prints different color than it prints for the screen. So you got different colors. So, you know, RGB versus CMYK. Now you get into the technical stuff. And he says, There's, we don't have enough time to go through all of the preparation you need to do both at the same time in one project.
Here's a little bit of a fun question. I guess it says, are you familiar with the work of Scott McCloud? Yes. Very much so. And for those who are talking about
understand Understanding Comics 1994
Understanding Comics, okay. Yeah. All right. So yes to that question.
Just to follow up, Scott McCloud probably has the best definition of what a comic is. comic has think of it as an umbrella. There's the comic medium. And then underneath that there are different modalities of how you use comics. So we immediately when we hear the word comic, we immediately go to Marvel DC comic strip graphic novel that side of medium right that modality. But he wants to remind us to keep think of an airline safety card, when you fly the pictograms and the trifold safety card. In a perfect example of a comic medium, because it's using visual language in a sequence of images to inform or educate. Okay, right. If the oxygen masks but also if you next time you fly. Don't just read it like you're a passenger, I need to learn I need to understand this. dissect it as a, from a visual language, sequential image narrative, the pictograms in the sequence that are going and then also that it's air, they have to be universal. So regardless of what spoken language, I need to be able to look at the safety card and be able to understand the instructions in the event of an emergency. So the airline safety cars probably the perfect example of of the comic, as a as a modality underneath the comic medium umbrella, because we're you it's visual language, sequential visual language, sequential visual narrative, and pictograms are one style. Icons are another style. There's, there's a number of those different kinds of things, you should read my research paper, I go through all that stuff.
Again, when you publish that, as a graphic novel, we're all behind you. Have you considered AI to provide a voice? Have you considered AI to provide voice to have both the visual and the auditory? Or would that change the experience in a way that wouldn't benefit the learner? So I guess there's two parts of that question. Yeah,
there's two parts. So when I consider using AI for voice is that
which have you considered? Have you considered AI to provide voice to have both the visual and the auditory? So I guess AI to I guess it goes back to the question that we just answered in regards to having some sort of audio overlay
voice Yeah. The the AI voice over technology has just exploded just in the last year and they're getting a lot better. You may be familiar well said labs, whether more popular AI tools right now. The problem with AI the problem with Wellstone labs and it doesn't recognize special characters, like question marks explanation points. So if you ask a question, it's not going to the emphasis in voice doesn't inflict like I'm asking a question or an exclamation point. There's there's some new technology coming out. I think it's really voice over I think is the name of it. They claim to be able to solve that problem. I haven't checked it out yet. So you have to be careful. It just depends on your character. But then it comes down to that AI voice Yes. Ai voice quick, great. Put your script in there generating voice however, If you want if you're taking your if you're taking it up another level and you want authentic authenticity, you got to hire a live actor to do the voice. Now give me an example. Going back to this Indian project we wanted the request was we need characters for two superheroes, our superhero and our villain. And we need a British female King's English with an Indian accent. Oh, okay. Ready? So AI is not going to generate that voice. So I have to go find this character. Oh, and by the way, if they speak Hindi, that's a plus. Because we're translating it into Hindi as well. So, okay, let me go hunt. Right. So I had recently worked with this other voice talent. And I couldn't I went out looking for I couldn't find was I reached out to this other voice down and say, look, here's what I'm looking for. In your network. Can you help me find somebody? So she sent me to Indian voiceover actors? who speak King's English British, the British British accent to British tow. As a great, so I sent them a couple paragraphs to do an audition, they came back like, oh, my gosh, these are perfect. I think they're perfect. Let me send them to the stakeholder the clients, let's see if they want them. They say great, great, the tire and both terrific. Band. I mean, it was easier than I thought it was gonna be. And then the one we were behind on script writing, and the one that one character with one voice talent came back say, hey, look, when are we going to do the recording? I've got to travel to India, my uncle has felt ill. So I'm going to be away for a while. Can we get this recorded? Before I leave? It doesn't look like we're going to be able to. When are you coming back? We'll have it ready for you when you get back. So you go I'm sorry. We're going to start filming when I get back. And I'm not going to be available as a filming. What do you mean, you're filming? She goes, Oh, I'm, I can't think of the character name. But she was filming the next season of Doctor Who she's the actress in Doctor Who. And she also does voiceover talent on the side. And as if you mean we just lost, we just lost you. I mean, I could have a doctor who character in my comic, I just lost, I just lost out because we didn't get the script done in time. It's like, oh. But then we had to go, we found another one. It was just as good, if not better. But that's in something like that. Right? So your design is going to dictate a lot of this stuff, right? So you have to it comes all the way back down and say, Hey, we want to do this comic medium themed instruction. Great. How much money do you have? Okay, great. How much time do we have? Okay, this is what you get. Because time and budget. Now, if you give me an extra six months, and a few more dollars, I can take it up a notch, I can get you more authentic voices, I get you more authentic artwork, I can I can design better scenarios, you know, that kind of thing. It's just it all of the same project management stuff is to say, right. Time, like kind of thing, right.
Another question that we had here was, how can comics bill along with branching scenarios?
Oh, I love branching scenarios. How would it go with it?
How would it go? How can comics go along with branching scenarios are videos, job aids, etc? On the same specific training topic? So yes.
Yeah, I'm in, forgive me for not completely understanding the question, but I think it we're, we're confusing, confusing. We're getting the cart ahead of the horse sort of thing. So think of design a branching scenario. You know, we design first, then we develop. So if I'm designing a scenario first, I may want to do it as a comic. But as I go through my designs, like you know, it's not going to work I, I would rather do this as a live action video. Or, I think just static backgrounds and some static characters with different poses and expressions will be fine here. I don't need full on custom comic artwork. So when you when I when I say comic in the context of the type of work I do, you're going into the abstract, you're going into the complex. And again, so how do you if we have enough time each time we had a couple minutes, this might help. So going back to this health care prize because working on the superhero was coming up with tools, so think of anybody remember Inspector Gadget like back? Yeah, shocked at myself, right. So you know, Penny and Penny had the bag and pay had all the tools to help inspect your gas. She actually solved the crime. Inspector Gadget never solved the crime, right, but he got all the credit. But she had this one bag, and she could pull out an amazing assortment of tools and technology to help right. So we kind of use that as inspiration where this superhero character had a pouch. And in her pouch, she had all these tools that she can help facilitators learn how to be better facilitators. So one of the tools she developed in her, in her this fictitious world is called energy spray. So if you're getting ready to facilitate a simulation, and you're feeling self doubt, or you're feeling worried, or you're feeling rushed, you would take a moment, you would pull out your energy spray, and you would spray yourself. And then in the cloud in the midst, you would see the emotion that you're experiencing. And then you can address that emotion before you begin to be a facilitator. And you can do this all visually. And then the villain, on the other hand, was trying to destroy every facilitated simulation. She just had this chip on her shoulder. So she created bugs, and the bugs were the characters. And the bugs represented fear or self doubt, or discouragement, or anxiety. So all of these abstract emotions, these bugs became the characters that represented those emotions. And then this villain would create a bug and then put it in an incubator and then create a swarm, and then send a swarm through the air ducts of her lab out into the wild, to attack the next simulation. And these bugs would bite participants in the simulation. And then when they when, when the fear bug bit you, you wouldn't be afraid to ask an open question, you would be afraid to participate because you were worried about being laughed at. So you see the design there and you take the abstract concepts, you design the instruction. And then oh, I'm going to make it I'm going to make these emotions, character bugs, or I'm going to do I'm going to create these physical objects as a way to another thing we come up with, we call it a learning lens. And it looked like an old school telescopic telescope that you expanded that big red button on it. And then when you click the button, an old Polaroid photograph would spit out. Right so basically, your instant your facilitator watching a simulation, you bring out your your learning lens, and you focused in on on one of the participants, you click the button. And now you have a record of that moment. So when you get into the debrief, you can say oh look, but then also, that photo would produce whatever emotion and feeling that participant was going through at the time. So it was teaching the facilitator to read body language, read their expressions, try to read what's going on while they're participating in the simulation, so that when you get to the debrief, you can have a discussion about what you were feeling. How did you feel about this simulation. So it's taking abstract and bringing them into reality. And that's where comics outperform any other media. You just you can do anything to trans since time and space with the comic ad.
I love that. I love that. A couple of quick questions before we wrap up. What tool do you use to prototype with? Pencil and paper? Pencil and paper? All right? No,
seriously, like an animatic you do it you can do it in PowerPoint, or you just got to do is just kind of come up with your concepts, put them in sequence and then walk through the sequence with your clients. You're prototyping, right? It's like okay, Scene one, we're going to do this then these two characters are gonna have a dialogue and we're going to do this. You might do a character model sheets like here's our characters in the story. Here's different different poses expressions. So just when it comes to starting out with a comic type thing you don't need all the digital tools just PowerPoint pencil and paper so the images in there and walk through a sequence.
Awesome to know though. I mean, you don't need high techie techie stuff to make this happen. Last question, what comics are you into the comics are you or where are you into I see a lot as I see Batman like their
bookshelf back there. I like um, I mean, I'm always a fan of Marvel and DC.
But I really like the indie comics a lot of the independent creators and what they're doing. And because they're coming up with some really good stories, so I'm always looking for the next independent comic that turns out to be really successful out there. For instance, one, Paper Girls, if you haven't seen that it's set in the 80s. And it's for girls that are bicycle paper deliveries. Anyway, that graphic novels hugely successful, and it's now been turned into a Netflix series. Oh, really? Yeah. Paper Girls. Yeah. Okay, great TV show. But it started out as a graphic novel series of graphic novels. So you know, just the indie comics, I'm always into it looking at and there's other real quick I want to graphic medicine.org. Graphic medicine is comics in health care, but it's teach everything from mental illness, anxiety, depression, if you're young adults, adults, children, anything graphic medicine, and it's all about comics and healthcare, it's probably the biggest moving genre right now.
And I've made a note of that, thank you, we'll be sure to add it to the resources and for everyone. With us, this recording will be available on the learning rebels website under if you go into resources, Coffee Chat, this video, including the including the audio, all of the links that were mentioned, you guys shared a lot of links in the chat. So we'll be sure to get those in the resources too, as well as a list of the questions that were asked. So you can match them to Kevin answering them. So this has been I mean, the comments in the chat have been really great. And a lot of people have said that, you know, kind of mind blown as far as all of the details that go behind the thought process here, and really ensuring that we're connecting it to the audience in a much deeper and a much deeper way. Yeah, let's,
I don't want to. It's difficult because when we think of who I'm doing, I'm doing a comic for elearning. And it's just characters on screen with speech bubbles. You know, it's just, it's just dialogue, it's scenario you click Next you go to another you know, there's another scene that at a fundamental Getting Started Great. That's that's a great way to get started. Because you'll learn so much about what works and what doesn't work and what you're connecting with your learner's. And then if you if you're interested in going at at the next level, if you will reach out to me on LinkedIn, I'm happy to have more chats with you or help you get started.
That's great. Thank you so much. And I appreciate you being with us today. And I realize we've ran a couple of minutes, four minutes long. But that's all right, because the information was really good. And I really could have listened to you talk about this for a whole lot longer than what we were scheduled to do. But that being said, is that we're going to be having Kevin back here in another month or month and a half where we're going to be going through Legos are going to be doing a serious play for Legos and Kevin's going to be walking us through that. So be sure to keep your eyes open for that announcement. It's going to be coming shortly. And then for those of you who are new to our coffee chat, remember the they are every other week. So not next week, the week after the coffee chat will be all about to build on what we're talking about here. It's going to be about how do we unleash our creative minds. So we're going to be talking about techniques that you that you may use any ideas that makes you go into a creative mindset, what do you do right? Do you go out spend some time in nature? So what is what is it that's building your creative mindset? That's in two weeks?
For me, I want to I want to come to that one.
Well, you come you come to that when you share with us what your your creative process is, that would be lovely. Also, the resources will be available for two weeks, like I said on the learning rebels website. But if you want 24/7 access to all of the resources, not just for this coffee chat, but to all of the past coffee chats here in 2023 as well as in 2022. They are all in the learning rebels community. So be sure if you want those resources as well as learn something new resources. You can find those in the learning rebels community, which has been the link has been placed in the chat. So thank you, everybody for being with us today. I hope you all have a great and wonderful weekend. Kevin any special plans for the weekend?
Ah, more writing,
more writing. Because we just can't get enough right.
I got it. I'm done. that'll be served but there's so much more I gotta get out. Otherwise I'll lose.
You'll lose it. I know, right? You gotta get those ideas down. Okay, well thank you again everybody. I hope you all have a great and wonderful weekend and I look forward to seeing you the next chat that's good. Get the