Growing up on a farm, summers were filled with a tremendous amount of work. However, it wasn't evenly distributed. Often, weather meant I had time on my hands. Fortunately for me, paper and pencils were cheap.
Sometime around Junior High I started drawing on a regular basis. By my senior year I had worked up to spending at least an hour a day. At one point I aspired to be a comic book illustrator. It wasn't to be, however, as the decision was derided by my Mother:
"But does that actually make the world a better place?"
That was the effective end of my illustrative ambitions. However, I would continue to dabble since the form is so tremendously effective. Whether a Sunday strip, comic off a magazine rack (they still have those, right?), or a digitally delivered graphic novel there is power in creating the perfect composition. Images are able emphasize a point words may fail at.
There are few things more intimidating, especially for technical concepts, than a solid wall of text. Usually astute writers will break up the monotony with a selectively chosen image that underscores their point. A carefully written comic not only accomplishes that but provides a lens for bringing new aspects into focus. Anyone familiar with the BBC series Dr. Who has an idea of what I'm talking about. That show's namesake is a 900+ year old genius universal time-traveler. Left to the Doctor's own devices, he'd flit through all continuity doing things seemingly at random. For the sake of the story the writers almost always have him paired with a human companion. The purpose of this person is to be an audience surrogate; they ask clarification of what's happening and they challenge motives from their alternative perspective. In much the same way a comic can be a wonderful companion for a larger piece, providing that other perspective.
I'd encourage anyone interested to check out BitStrips.com. Don't be put off by the propensity for comic sans on the homepage. It's a great site that allows anyone to pull together a comic from stock art. For those without the talent or time BitStrips is a great option for adding color to anyone's writing.
Update 2013/11/01: So shortly after I posted this piece the nice, reliable Bitstrips folk go and release an Android and IOS app. Normally this wouldn't be a problem. Except it went viral on Facebook and desktop users are now subjected to this lovely condescending excuse: Nevermind if we've been advocates of the service since their launch. Not on the app? Too bad, our new friends are more important. What's worse is that the only login option available on said app is via Facebook. Used an email to login on the traditional website? Tough. At some vague date in the future we'll get to you.
Not cool. I'd make a comic to illustrate my rage but, well, you know.