Comic contracts are a new genre of legally binding contracts, in which parties are represented by characters, the terms of the agreement are captured in pictures, and parties sign the comic as their contract.
Dense, complex contracts that feel “written by lawyers, for lawyers” are hard to read if you are literate, but are nearly impossible if you have low literacy skills.
Contract terms are often envisioned as a way protect vulnerable people, yet many cannot understand what they are signing.
While levels of literacy may vary, we are all able to understand clear visual narratives. A familiar, well-known genre like comics has the ability to easily communicate across all literacy levels to help everyone understand what they are signing.
Comic contracts are often used in situations where users may have low levels of literacy, such as employment contracts for low or semi-skilled workers. They also work well for medical consent, non-disclosure agreements, and grant agreements. Clauses that work well as comic strips include, for example, workers’ tasks and discipline, showing users where to sign, and contract cancellation.
Comic contracts help to clarify and make more tangible complicated terms and clauses, and ensure that both parties fully understand the terms of the agreement. They have been shown to reduce disputes and improve induction times, whilst also empowering vulnerable people.
The contracts are often used as manuals too, to describe a job or duties. This approach, in fact, aims changing contracts from being punitive and adversarial to being collaborative manuals of cooperation.
© 2019 Robert de Rooy, Claire Harcourt-Cooke, and Creative Contracts Pty Ltd. Published with permission.