Cognitive Comics

A Constructivist Approach to Sequential Art - Research Fellowship Grant from State University of New York at Buffalo. Fellowship recipient and author,


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Update 2012

Posted by cognitivecomics on January 8, 2012 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Hey Folks,

   Appologies for not updating the site in some time. Working as a teacher and developing other projects I have not found the time. I have deleted a lot of Forum posts and made it so that only memebers with permission can post there. 

   News: working on a multimedia component to Cognitive Comics... hopefully we can get this to the developers this year. 

   Happy New Year!

  - DJ

CC Development Update

Posted by cognitivecomics on August 1, 2011 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

In August 2010 I started working as a high school art teacher. This has taken up the majority of my time and thus this website has not but updated or active on my part. I have also taken on other creative projects but plan to repackage Cognitive Comics for Educomics as a software to be used in classrooms around the world. Time, unfortunately, is my enemy... Thanks for your patients.

- DJ

CC Interview at

Posted by cognitivecomics on October 10, 2010 at 12:52 PM Comments comments (0)

Have a look at my interview, click HERE or the image below:

Teaching Cognitive Comics - Sequential Script Writing

Posted by cognitivecomics on July 28, 2010 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (2)


   We are at the stage in the Summer course where students of my Cognitive Comics class are transfering a 4 page script to rough layouts of their final pages. At this stage students are encountering the challenge of "thinking visually." A few of my mantras in class have been:

- Show me before you tell me.

- Your environment is another character in your story.

- What happens in the end? (This corresponds with Backwards Design.)

  Some of the student's difficulties with this stage have been staying on course with their own plot outline. Students with very complex plots tend to find it difficult to simplify and stay on course so I use focus questions to help them stick to their plan. Other students had difficulty finding story threads so I asked them basic questions based on the ideas they did have. The answers to these questions provided the plot for this project.

... More reports to come.

 - Donald

Educomics and ITisArt

Posted by cognitivecomics on July 4, 2010 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Hello to my blog reader!


   I have been invited to do a collaboration with which is in affiliation with software developers in Greece funded by the European Union.

   I'm entering the 2nd phase of our collaboration, giving them a sample of my curriculum for them to plan how to transfer it to their software and sell it in Europe!

   I'm very excited and working hard using the content from my Summer course.

   More to come - DJ

Daniel Pink, Author of 'A Whole New Mind'

Posted by cognitivecomics on February 10, 2010 at 10:38 AM Comments comments (0)

   Daniel Pink is kind of the Ferris Bueller of popular psychology. He is pointing the way from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age, challenging paradigms that are obsolete. I recieved an email reply to my introduction to Daniel Pink. I was happy to read that he feels Cognitive Comics is "fascinating". There are many parallels between his book A Whole New Mind, Why Right-Brainers Will The Future and CogCom. I will be retooling the lesson plans to encompass to what Dan calls "The Six Senses": Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, Meaning.

   I hope to correspond more with Dan and see how I can improve Cognitive Comics.

   Below are some links to Dan's work:

   On Oprah Winfrey

   On Discovery Channel

  - Donald Jackson

2nd Edition of Cognitive Comics Research underway

Posted by cognitivecomics on February 10, 2010 at 10:34 AM Comments comments (0)

   In Fall 2009, I taught my Cognitive Comics content for 8 weeks to 4 different 5th grade classes. Testing my lesson plans that were modified for this grade level was extremely successful and yeilded new insights that will allow me to streamline this project. I am editing the research component of CogCom to be more accessible to teachers and readers with new additions to how the lesson plan components will work. Some of you may have found the voice too academic, the 2nd Ediition will be more readable.

- Donald Jackson

Graphic Novel Script Writing Approach

Posted by cognitivecomics on September 12, 2009 at 9:41 AM Comments comments (0)

  A local college has referred a student to me to help with graphic novel script writing. Below is my email to the student with advice:

Hi Kris,


The intro to your graphic novel script is well written but the approach is not right ( no approach is wrong in art but for a beginner you should try a far easier approach ).


  Think of script writing like this:

Approach 1: youwant to tell a story about NYC so you start from the north end of theisland and walk, zig zag all the way down to the south end ofManhattan, writing everything you see as you go. By the time you are 5minutes into the journey, the reader is wondering where is this leadingand how is it going to end. By the time you are in mid town, your feetare bleeding from walking so far and you are frustrated with the waythings are going so you give up the task.


  Approach 2: you want to tell a story about NYC so youstart with a satellite photo of Manhattan. With that you plan to startat the Science Museum on the upper West side and travel down the sideof central park to the theater district on Broadway. After that youplan to take a train cross town and down Lexington to China town whereyou are going to have the best Chinese food of your life!

    You get a helicopter and you plot out the journey. You notice allthe important landmarks, famous museums, coffee shops, etc. so you putthat into your plan and you cut out some plans too. You figure you'regoing to have trouble finding the cross town train so you'll ask alovely Chinese girl to help you.

    Lastly, you get on your feet with your entire plan and start scripting your journey from the Science museum to China town.

   You wrap up the story nicely with a surprise twist where fate has yourun into the Chinese girl who helped give you directions cross town andyou ask her to dinner.


   I don't know ANYONE who writes scripts from beginning to end.You want to plot out the main events and then fill in the dialogue/action. Start general and go to specific. Take a bird's eye view of thestory and break down the essential events that move the story forward.Phase 2, break it down even further in things that must be said betweenyour characters. Phase 3, write the action and dialog that ties thelarger pieces together.


  Let me know if that helps.

    - Don

Research Project Final Report

Posted by cognitivecomics on August 25, 2009 at 7:22 PM Comments comments (1)

Below is a report submitted to the Research Foundation looking back on this summer's experience. While this research project will be an on-going jouney for me both as an artist and educator, the report below brings some closure to the fellowship and provides you with a sense of what I learned along the way:

Final Report

Cognitive Comics: A Constructivist Approach to Sequential Art

Donald Jackson

August 25, 2009


   Both my mentor and I are happy with the results of my Summer research project. At first I was not sure what sort of role he would play but quickly discovered how important that relationship is to both establish structure and provide inspiration. The project, as a whole, was a tremendous leap forward in my own professional development. I am not trying to find ways to fund the continuation of the this project and travel to a few conventions to present my research, particularly the NY State Art Teachers Association.

   Since 2003 I have been involved in teaching and developing comics for the classroom, however this research project was largely based on the content I learned at the Buffalo State Art Education program. Throughout last year I made several connections between what I learned in this program with my knowledge base from teaching and developing comics in the classroom. This research fellowship afforded the opportunity to bring these connections together, explore new ideas and propose new ways of thinking about art education and cognitive development.

   One of the significant contributions I made through Cognitive Comics is a theoretical structure from which art educators can approach teaching art for cognition. By staying focused on cognitive development as the goal of art education, I re-thought Bloom's Taxonomy of Cognitive Domains (a standard guide for contemporary art educators), and used it provide a method of promoting higher order thinking skills.

   Some of the challenges I met throughout the summer was balancing the flow of the book with my desire to add more content. It was quite frustrating having only a Summer to put this project together but eventually I was able to edit down to the essential elements from which I can later expand. Another issue I ran into was the danger of misrepresenting statements that I was quoting. Taken out of context this can change meaning, I was fortunate to have some peer proof readers challenge me to make myself more clear, but in some cases I simply had to edit entire paragraphs and rethink how to express my points. There were ten versions of the research paper prior to the final submission.

   I found myself in a rare and unique place writing this research. There are a growing number of educators looking into comics and graphic novels but the majority of these writings are critical reviews into the literature. Very few approach comics/ sequential art as an art form. Having been mentored in comic book illustration by a seasoned professional, I have a unique education similar to how craftsmen handed down trade skills from generation to generation. This combined with my fine art degree, teaching experience and art education background combined to give me a very strong foundation from which to make my hypothesis. Nevertheless, I took my position very seriously and tried to maintain a sound approach to this project. I have an educated opinion on several matters, these were backed up with examples and arguments. In other cases, I found that there is already so much research written on art and cognitive development that I did not want to try and invent the wheel. The end result, hopefully, was something unique, groundbreaking, informative and inspiring.

   A large part of this research project has to do with the sequential art itself and the accompanying lesson plans. While this is ancillary to the research paper, there were great challenges in deciding how best to provide samples that work in tandem with my concepts. I have several concepts story-boarded for the sequential art and shared them with my mentor over the Summer. Dr. Parks provided a good objective approach that helped me question my own artwork. The sequential art is posted at the web site where the research paper is posted. These works are essential to the overall goals I have with this project because they offer opportunities for viewers to apply my concepts to sequential art that is informed and guided by cognitive development.

   Dr. Parks had mentioned all throughout this research project that metaphor is the highest form of cognition in the appreciation and creation of art. Metaphor can be a broader term to cover iconography, symbolism, analogy and other forms of non-direct expression that lends itself well to open interpretation. Both in my sequential art and in my writing, I acknowledged the importance of cognitive dissonance to the process of cognitive development through art. Pointing out that arts based research is quite different from science based research in that subjective interpretation plays a significant role, I created works of sequential art with several layers and aspects that would allow for different insights and ideas to emerge.


  The potential pitfalls of this research paper are that the ideas may be too broad and the subject matter to far between fields. Sequential art is barely defined by the general public as an art form in itself, publishers and readers of comics and graphic novels may find the paper to academic and aerial to connect with their own experience. It is my hope that a forward thinking publisher of either educational products or comic books will see how Cognitive Comics bridges these two fields. Cognitive Comics is not "edu-tainment" in the sense of what we see on educational television but rather it is a Constructivist approach to viewing all kinds of sequential art as a form of art that can and should be appreciated and created in an art education setting.


Josef Rubinstein Interview - Part 1

Posted by cognitivecomics on August 13, 2009 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (1)

Firstly, thanks to everyone that's been visiting the site and giving positive feedback. Very good to hear your reponses and get to know some new friends!


I've just got permission to post two interview movies I did with friend & mentor, comic art legend JOSEF RUBINSTEIN. The interview is very informal, my son interrupts a bit as it was held at my house. I'm working on editing the films into sizes that will work, please be patient for part two... Part one is at this link below.

Part 2 coming soon - Donald