Books by Neil Cohn

On Visual Language Research

Who Understands Comics?

Who Understands Comics

By Neil Cohn

Drawings and sequential images are so pervasive in contemporary society that we may take their understanding for granted. But how transparent are they really and how universally are they understood? Combining recent advances from linguistics, cognitive science and clinical psychology, this book argues that visual narratives involve much greater complexity and require a lot more decoding than widely thought. Instead, understanding a visual language requires a fluency that is contingent on exposure and practice with a graphic system. Bringing together a rich but scattered literature on how people comprehend, and learn to comprehend, a sequence of images, this book coalesces research from a diverse range of fields into a broader interdisciplinary view of visual narrative to ask: Who Understands Comics? Learn more...

2020 / 256 pages — Order on Amazon

The Visual Narrative Reader

The Visual Narrative Reader

Edited by Neil Cohn

Contemporary research on this visual language of sequential images has been scattered across several fields: linguistics, psychology, anthropology, art education, comics studies, and others. This book collects chapters that cross these disciplinary divides from many of the foremost international researchers of visual narratives, inlcuding important papers and review chapters summarizing the literature on specific approaches to understanding visual narratives. The result is a comprehensive “reader” that can be used as a resource to researchers, a supplement to courses, and a broad overview of fascinating topics to for anyone interested in the growing field of the visual language of comics and visual narratives. Learn more...

2015 / 320 pages — Purchase on Amazon

The Visual Language of Comics

The Visual Language of Comics: Introduction to the Structure and Cognition of Sequential Images

By Neil Cohn

This work presents a provocative theory: that drawings and sequential images are structured the same as language. Building on contemporary theories from linguistics and cognitive psychology, it argues that comics are written in a visual language of sequential images that combines with text. From this emerges the foundation for a new line of research within the linguistic and cognitive sciences, raising intriguing questions about the connections between language and the diversity of humans’ expressive behaviours in the mind and brain. Learn more...

2013 / 224 pages — Purchase from Amazon

Early Writings on Visual Language
By Neil Cohn

Collecting the earliest writings on visual language, it covers the split between "comics" and "the comics medium" the boundaries between text and image, and lots more. Special focus is given to the importance of the sequential aspect of visual language grammar. This includes an in-depth analysis of panel-to-panel relationships—culminating in arguments against "panel transitions" and the proposal of a new hierarchical analysis, placing primary importance on the roles of time and space. Learn more...

2003 / 120 pages — Purchase from Amazon

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Creative work


Meditations: 1998 - 2002
By Neil Cohn

Before delving into visual language theory, Neil Cohn spent several years testing the artistic potential of sequential art. These diverse and often experimental visual poems, short stories, and vignettes tread a journey of artistic exploration into philosophy, religion, love, childhood, and the artistic boundaries of this visual language. Learn more...

2005 / 258 pages — Purchase from Amazon

We the People: A Call to Take Back America

By Thom Hartmann and Neil Cohn

This 216 page non-fiction comic book shows the dangers that corporations pose to American democracy. Americans have become second-class citizens to the first-class “personhood” of transnational corporations, who, in often-devious fashion, have usurped control from We the People – a development that the Founding Fathers never intended – leaving us with our rights and freedoms hanging in the balance. Learn more...

2004 / 216 pages — Purchase from Amazon

The Graphic Canon, Vol. 2
By Russ Kick (Editor), with a piece by Neil Cohn

The Graphic Canon, Volume 2 gives us a visual cornucopia based on the wealth of literature from the 1800s. Neil Cohn's contribution offers an interpretation of John Keats' haunting poem, "La Belle Dame Sans Merci."


2012 / 499 pages — Purchase from Amazon

A User's Guide to Thought and Meaning
By Ray Jackendoff (Author) with Neil Cohn (Illustrator)

Written with an informality that belies the originality of its insights, this book presents a radical new account of the relation between language, meaning, rationality, perception, consciousness, and thought, and, extraordinarily, does this in terms a non-specialist will grasp with ease. ... Jackendoff's profound and arresting account will appeal to everyone interested in the workings of the mind, in how language links to the world, and in what understanding these means for the way we experience our lives.


2012 / 288 pages — Purchase from Amazon