For Freshman Comp. I was assigned to read the Introduction, and chapters one and two of Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. The introduction started out with Scott talking on the phone with his old friend Matt Faezell. He tells his friend about a new project he is doing and how it is "a comic book about comics"(McCloud, Introduction). He explains and sets up for what the book is going to be about.
Chapter One begins with Scotts comic character introducing himself and the word comic. The word comic has a vast definition and can be percieved in many forms. He goes into very descriptive detail of the word comic. His final definition says, "Juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence"(McCloud, 9). A comic consists of a sequence of two or more images that tell a story. He next eplains how comics extend back in history far longer than one would think. Back to old Egytian paitings thirty-two centuries ago. These sequenced pictures are used all the time today and are seen everywhere. But many things, such as cartoons or single panels are mistaken for a comic. Still there is no one definition for a comic. McCloud's definition and our process of learning comics only are clues to an ongoing process of understanding comics.
Chapter two focuses on the image and vocabulary concepts of comics. He explains a confusing concept of an image isn't an image. That comics are composed of icons. They are our interpretation to "represent concepts, ideas and philosophies"(McCloud, 27). Icons can very from complex to very simple. McCloud explains that we respond that same way to a cartoon as a we do a real image. We see what we want to see, just how we see ourselves and faces in everyday objects. We see the world in our image. We choose how much detail we want to look at an image and this effects our response to that image. McCloud explains how we incorporate our senses in these responses. To us pictures are recieved messages and must have written vocabulary for us to percieve the message. In chapter two McCloud also explains an illustration called the Picture Plane, which seperates shapes lines and colors into reality and language. Many countries and cultures use this plane in their comics, all which vary depending on what that group consideres reality or iconic. Comics have a vast use of icons that have endless forms that have taken over our everyday lives.
In a way I enjoy McCloud's book in the sense that he uses pictures to explain and back up his ideas and concepts. Some of the detail and dialogue are hard to get into, as he goes into serious detail. But the pictures help and are sometimes cool to look at, just because I am a big fan of books with pictures. Before I thought of comics as simple illustrations and cartoons that told the story of a super hero. Now I am beginning to go crazy at how complex comics really are!