Dekko Comics use cleverly designed strips to help young people with reading difﬁculties to gather meaning from text and start to enjoy reading. Artist, Rossie Stone spoke with Able Magazine.
Did your own dyslexia motivate you to design comics speciﬁcally for other dyslexics?
In secondary school I really started to try to overcome my struggles with revision but nothing was working. It was through dealing with dyslexia and the disappointment of it and trying to ﬁnd a solution that I came up with the idea of using comics.
How do you go about explaining a concept through a comic strip?
I just think: How can I make this interesting? That nugget is what really makes it work. Rather than thinking about it all technically, because when you come at it from that angle, it ceases to be fun to read.
We’ve had parents saying, ‘We’ve been really looking for something for our children. This may just be the solution.’ We’ve had a lot of very positive responses not just about dyslexia, but also in autism and ADHD, and in the school context as well. Parents have been looking for something to engage their kids with reading and something to help them retain the information and we’re doing that.
The comics are very witty and clever, whereas other methods of helping young people to read tend to dumb it down…
Our comics give you a reason to care about the information; you know, a character doing something interesting, a funny facial expression, a dog that’s licking a man’s face or something like that; adding something interesting, using the power of story as an incentive.
Can you talk about some of the features of the comics, such as the speciﬁc use of colour?
The colour coded text element differentiates information in quite an appealing and visual way. So what we did was to distinguish between character dialogue and the actual fact that you need to remember. Highlighting the fact in a particular colour also links the facts when they’re mentioned in different parts of the comic. So if you’re talking about fractions and decimals, for example, then all of the facts to do with fractions will be in blue and all of the facts to do with decimals will be in red. It just makes it a lot easier to follow.
We gave our little robot character, Timbot, blue speech bubbles because his visor is blue – and we gave the baddie red bubbles, because red can be associated with anger. We might experiment more with colouring speech bubbles based on emotion. We’re just sort of playing with what’s conventional and recognising what we can push.
I prefer looking at text on a coloured background when it comes to reading but for some people it’s more of a problem. Part of the way we’re answering this is by releasing an app which will allow you to customise digital comics to whatever your reading preference is. So you can put a coloured ﬁlter over the comic and choose how many words are in the speech bubbles, and choose the colours of the bubbles and so on.
You‛re based in Scotland, where there‛s a wonderful tradition of comic book art…
The Beano and The Dandy were deﬁnitely inspirations growing up and you can see a lot of the humour and the style; interaction with the readers through the story and so on. ‘Biffs’ and ‘boffs’ and all that…
How can people get hold of the comics?
They can buy or subscribe online or, if they want me to come and do a workshop at their school and teach other kids how to make their own comics, they can arrange that as well.