Blog post

Sketching out the Importance of Storytelling through Comics

Grad Research Lens series
August 5, 2022
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By Dania Nehme and Chris Wise

Grad Research Lens is a series of blogposts on the various areas of exploration and examination by students in John Molson's research-based graduate programs.

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Dania Nehme, an MSc Marketing student at the John Molson School of Business, recently hosted the workshop Discovering Storytelling in Comics this past March at Concordia University’s Center for Oral History and Digital Storytelling (COHDS). The workshop stems from her research interest and thesis project co-supervised by Drs. Zeynep Arsel and Michèle Paulin from John Molson’s Department of Marketing. “I told my co-supervisors that I was so passionate to the point that I really wanted to create and animate an interactive workshop about my thesis topic!”

Graphic consisting of several types of comic book frames

Entitled The Marketing of Comic Books, Dania’s thesis explores how comic books impact readers in their lives. The idea stems from the importance of comic books in her own life: “To escape from a tragic childhood and stay mentally and physically healthy, I developed a passion for reading, drawing, working out and playing the piano. Following a family tragic event in 2012, I made a life goal promise to create graphic novels denouncing and speaking for victims and survivors of domestic violence and femicides. Comic books have a special place in my heart. They fueled my passion for comic illustration and drawings.”

In February 2022, Dania’s research topic was selected at the AMA Conference, the biggest marketing conference internationally. “Usually doctorate students and professors present their research there so, as a Master’s student, I’m really proud!”

The hybrid workshop (in-person and online) set out to create a safe social setting to gather and exchange ideas, opinions, and thoughts through experiential learning and active teaching. “It was challenging to come up with the workshop content from scratch, especially when it came to creating the exercises that would engage participants to apply theoretical concepts into practicality through imaginary scenarios. I also didn’t want to give away too much information about my thesis until it was published, and I wanted the content of my presentation to be stimulating for individuals of all ages and from any background.”

Throughout the past century, brands have adopted marketing through various forms; advertising and promotions evolve with technology and have taken place in various ways, including comic strips. Additionally, transmedia brands have become a billion-dollar industry through their use of diverse mediums.

A hand-drawn comic developed by one of the workshop participants

After an icebreaker where each participant had to present their favourite comic book or character, as well as which superpower they would like to have, participants learned about the theory behind Dania’s research, and worked individually or in groups to develop their own stories firstly through a three-frame comic strip. Then, they expanded their stories to another medium, which they shared with the wider group. Comics offer a boundless, playful frame within which to experiment and shape images-text to communicate ideas and feed our need for storytelling to make sense of our world and the human experience.

Dania’s thesis work, in close collaboration with supervisors, has helped her to perfect the conversation method and the critical aspect of storytelling, which further developed her skills to analyze complex comic strips and decode visual messages. Humans have always engaged in storytelling and it still surrounds us daily; we recount stories every single day, whether during a sales pitch, catching up with friends, working with colleagues, or while networking. It has become a crucial skill for us to master as each conversation has a purpose and can bring people together. Storytelling can be considered as the fine art of communication, stemming from the ancient practice of folklore and cultural stories. It is a great tool to pass on knowledge; using stories and narratives leads to feelings of empathy, constructing meanings, along with teaching values, ethics, and cultural norms and differences.

Photo of the workshop attendees around a table and in front of a large screen

“Comics can be a valuable communication tool leading to fruitful, enriching conversations, adding a twist to the classic concepts of storytelling, marketing, and narration.”

Through the workshop, Dania shared the important role comics have played in her life, as well as her hopes that they may also provide catharsis for others – a path towards peace, contemplation, and harmony. Aside from sharing her passion for comics, she is also working to develop her own graphic novel.

 

Dania is currently writing her thesis and planning to apply to a doctorate’s degree in Marketing to become a university professor and academic researcher.

Find out more about John Molson’s research-based graduate programs. Then, feel free to connect with a recruiter or register for one of our information sessions.

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