Human-Computer Interaction & Medicine

Comic Circuit

Creating a statistically valid research protocol in order to measurably increase the quality of content creation on a comic journalism website.



Quantitative Researcher

Project Goal & Overview
My colleagues and I were interested in applying the benefits of the comic strip medium (quick stories, information in text & image)  to news consumption by creating an online platform where individuals can create comic-strips from news articles.

I was approached to develop a procedure which would encourage users to create higher quality comic strips. After researching, I realized that there are four commonly used design methods which increase quality:

  • Generating multiple design directions and then pursuing very few for further work.
  • Breaking the content creation into smaller stages which are completed separately.
  • Having an expert select the best designs for further iteration.
  • Iterating on a particular design by creating close variants.


Method: Iterative Design on Amazon Mechanical Turk
I created a series of studies to investigate comic quality when these variables were incorporated versus excluded from the comic creation process. Using Amazon Mechanical Turk, I created two conditions – in one, the participants were asked to create a comic from a news article; the comic was later evaluated. In the second, the participants were asked to create a Narrative Storyboard of a comic based off of the news article; I solicited evaluations (from colleagues and other participants) to select a subset, which were then turned into comic. Those comics were later evaluated. A summary of this method appears at right.


Results: Statistically Higher Comic Quality
The results showed a that comic quality is directionally, but non-significantly increased by using a structure that implements the methods above. Interestingly, I noticed that within the results, the comics which were created without any structure (control condition) were more often off-topic, creative, and funny. In contrast, comics which were created with the structured approach (experimental condition) seemed more informational and higher quality, but were drier in tone. We tested this hypothesis in a follow-up study and found that comics created with the non-structured approach were significantly more unique  (p=.003), and directionally more informative. These results influenced the final design of the prototype website.

Submission: CHI Conference Finalist
The final paper was a finalist in the Student Design Competition of CHI 2013. Check out the paper here. Also, see the supplementary materials here for more information about the design and my research.


Comic Circuit Affinity Diagram


Comic Circuit Page


Comic Circuit Poster


Comic Circuit Award