Comics Jam: Creating healthcare and science communication comics – A sprint co-design methodology

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Educational and public information messages can be enlivened through the medium of comics, engaging readers not simply through the content, but through careful application of the attributes of the form. The creative and oftentimes collaborative processes used to create such comics benefit from the blending of different perspectives and expertise in order to ensure that the educational message is precisely calibrated. This article elucidates this argument in light of a suite of educational and public information comics produced by the authors as part of a multidisciplinary team from the Scottish Centre for Comics Studies (SCCS) at the University of Dundee, working with various external partners, and reflects on the methodological and pedagogical approaches embedded in this project. We argue that by using a participatory and iterative process that draws on some of the key elements of Jake Knapp’s concept of the design sprint, a prototype comic can be quickly developed that is informed by relevant scholarship and engages a diverse range of partners as co-designers, which can then be moved quickly to the final version. This process creates a feedback loop between research, practice and the various stakeholders, each of whom is empowered within the co-design methodology to contribute to the comic based on their expertise. This is driven by the operational logic of such projects, which bring together participants from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise, to collaborate and co-design outputs at the interface between critical and creative investigation. In many cases, the comics that we have produced have been to a tight deadline, where the need for the comic is pressing, so the process partly emerged due to necessity, but became refined over the course of several years, evolving into a practice research approach combined with a sprint co-design methodology that embeds learning outcomes in the process as well as the output. Given the nature of this process, we took to describing this activity as a ‘Comics Jam’, and due to the city’s association with the three J’s of ‘jute’, ‘jam’ and ‘journalism’, the name sort of... stuck.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-192
Number of pages26
JournalStudies in Comics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • Co-creation
  • Education
  • Healthcare comics
  • Public information comics
  • Science communication
  • Sprint methodology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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