25 August 2009

A Comical History

Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: the Invisible Art, is about, well, a book about comics. Now, McCloud’s book isn’t just an ordinary book; it’s a story made of sequential art explaining to his audience the history, the making, and the importance of comics. Along side of the animated illustrations are words, spoken in the first person, explaining McCloud’s point of view. What’s different about this book, though, is that you can actually see the author, Scott McCloud. He is the animated character, with large round spectacles, on each page talking to you. I realize he isn’t actually having a conversation with the reader, but he is explaining himself as though he is the professor in a classroom. Furthermore, McCloud’s main focus in the introduction and first chapter is to explain what he is going to teach you. McCloud attempts to give a specific definition of comics, “Juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer.”(9) However, he later admits the definition of comics today isn’t set in stone, as future generations will come along and change the future of comics. Along with the unfixed definition, McCloud expresses comics, (actually, “picture manuscripts”) to have begun as far as Pre-Columbia and even in the Egyptian ages. Although, there were traces of comics found in ancient “picture manuscripts,” the actuality being comics didn’t come along until the “invention” of printing. (10) Also, note that Rodolphe Topffer, as McCloud put it “father of modern art,” and the 20th century are important because that is when actual comics appeared. McCloud then finishes off his chapter with an open definition of comics and also makes it apparent that comic(s) is a broad subject, and we may never be able to have a set definition or understand all of comics.

After I read McCloud’s first couple of pages, I was impressed. Not with the material, but rather with the illustrations. Please don’t think the reading wasn’t interesting, because it was! I thought the details and explanations were very informative. However, the art is what caught my attention and actually encouraged me to continue reading McCloud’s book. I don’t think if I read a regular book about comics, it would have been nearly as interesting as reading it in original comic strips. The illustrations were comical (no pun intended) and very eye-catching. I am excited to learn more about comics after reading the first two parts of McCloud’s book. And believe it or not, I don’t think I would mind picking up a comic book and getting lost in it. I suppose we learn something new everyday, and McCloud surely has taught me that.

5 comments:

  1. I completely agree with what your saying. I would be down to read a comic book too.

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  2. I agree with the two of you as well. The fact that this whole thing is somewhat new to us is almost like one big refresher course on understanding how comics can be not only beneficial but also influential.

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  3. Mike, that is very true! I'm glad you've seen my point of view. Hopefully we can all see it as "refreshing."

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  4. I agree with you when you said that reading another book besides this one wouldn't interest you. David Kunzle's "Comic strip-a definition", nearly bored me to death. I do actually look forward to reading the rest of McCloud's book

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  5. Excellent post, Lynnae!

    Everyone else, great comments! Keep it up!

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