Another aspect of comics that I am beginning to better understand is the use of icons. As I see it now, comics use icons to illustrate ideas, not just objects or people, and in doing so add a dimension of psychological suggestion to each individual scene and the story as a whole. Comics are designed to appeal to people on a more basic level. The characters are meant to represent different groups or ideas, and the story lines for each comic represents how these ideas play into different situations. By using icons, comics become heavily symbolic, as each icon used can represent anything from a single object to multiple ideas or principles depending on the style the artist chooses to use. Knowing this allows me to take my knowledge and understanding of icons and begin to put each message into historical context.
Once I have begun to piece together the historical context in which a comic was produced, I can look at the story and try to figure out what the key message at that time would have been. What sort of opinion was the author giving on an issue? Why did they feel it was an important point at emphasize at the time? How would the message have been received by the general public? All these questions are key to analyzing the situation surrounding a comic. If this type of analysis seems familiar, it is because it is the style used when trying to understand any primary source. Indeed, after thinking more on what comics are, it seems to me that they are as invaluable as any form of media when it comes to understanding the psyche and values of a population during a specific time period. By looking at the art, icons, and messages of popular comics from a specific time, we can understand what message the comic was portraying that made it popular, and thereby gain insight into the ideas people were drawn to and supported at that time.