29 January 2010
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, in McCloud's introduction he opens with a conversation he is having with his friend Matt Feazell. McCloud makes an effort to explain his comic book on comics by referring to some topics he writes about; such as the definition of comics, basic elements, process, closure, time, words, pictures, storytelling, comprehensive theory, creative process and art in general.
In Chapter one McCloud expresses his thoughts about comics during his younger ages "Comics were those bright, colorful magazines filled with bad art, stupid stories and guys in tights" as you can interpret, his view on comics was somewhat hopeless, his idea was that he was too old for comics. Contrary to his opinion McCloud became completely obsessed with comics and decided to become a comic creator (artist) after being introduced to them by his "smarter" friend. In this chapter McCloud explores his thoughts to find a genuine definition for comics. Ultimately his definition is; “juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer.” McCloud also writes about the significance that history and prehistoric arts have with comics.
“For the purpose of this chapter, I’m using the word “icon” to mean any image used to represent a person, place, thing or idea.” McCloud’s chapter two educates its audience that icons are only images, paintings, drawings etc. that are a resemblance, representation or a symbol of it’s subject. There are non-pictorial icons, abstract icons and pictorial icons. Abstract icons are words, and words have no correspondence to their subject and non-pictorial icons have no influence on their implication and for pictorial icons McCloud indicates that the more simplified the characters are the more we are able to relate and use our imagination but the backgrounds are not simplified they are very realistic. McCloud reviews comics in Europe, Japan and America. Animated characters are used in Europe more then in America, Japan uses realistic, complex and simplified art. The vocabulary of the word comic consists of three terms words, vocabulary and icons. McCloud is convinced that words and images are more suitable if they are separated.
After reading these first two chapters of Understanding Comics I feel somewhat more knowledgeable on art in general. I learned a little history about different cultures and how their art is a form of comics because they give information and tell a story. I now find images really interesting, the background appeals the most to me because of how realistically they are drawn and the characters have become more fascinating then before to me because I now know why they are so plain. I currently have a nonjudgmental mind frame about comics because I was made aware of the difficulty it takes to produce and understand them.
28 January 2010
The Second chapter talks about the vocabulary of comics. It starts off by talking about icons and what they mean to comics. An icon is an image that represents something such as a picture or an idea. He explains that some icons resemblance varies more than others and icon content may have a different level of meaning. He goes on to give examples if a picture is more realistic then it is less likely to attract then if it was less real. the reason he is trying to say this is because if the picture is not as real then you will more likely to want to be the character because it opens the imagination more than if it was the actual person. Then McCloud explains to you that a comic is not so much realistic in the character but the world around the character should because it makes the person more interested. Scott McCloud main purpose of this chapter is to get across that an icon has no life but it’s what you make it and needs the reader’s imagination
27 January 2010
In the first chapter Scott McCloude is talking about what the definition of comics is. First he starts off by saying that he really didn’t think comics were good he says "I read real books" but when his friend lent his collection of comics and was fascinated by them. He tried to explain to people what comics meant to him but people were too narrowly minded and didn’t understand. So that is what he is trying to do in this chapter. First he starts by trying to explain what comics are by saying that it is like a vessel it can hold many ideas and images. he first explains that its "sequential art “as the first theory, but later makes it more brad by saying it is "juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/ or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer". Then he goes on to explain that comical art has been used way back in time by the past civilizations. He tells you some of it was comical art but some wasn’t such as the Egyptian art. The reason is because it was there language even though it was pictures. So what McCloude is trying to get across is that it’s not what it says it’s what it doesn’t say.
26 January 2010
As any other teen, I used to be a big fan of comic books. I used to love the action genre of comics. I read X-Men, Justice League, Spiderman, Superman, and any other super hero who had “man” attached to their name. However, I never took it seriously. Just reading the first chapter of the book Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, opened a whole perspective towards it. Who would have imagined that the history of comics started from 1049 A.D.? The Pre-Colombian picture manuscript, Bayoeux Tapestry, Mexican codex and etcetera were some historical comic forms which signified the birth of comics. Similarly, McCloud talks about the genres, tools, and some interesting facts with the use of sequential art. All in all, reading through the first chapter was a walk in the park.
The second chapter talks about icons and images. What the people see? And what our eyes see? It sure sounds interesting but if you come to think of it, it is true. It is something that I had never thought before. This chapter also talks about how image differ in countries. Also, McCloud talks about the difference in details in various comic books.
What I don't like about McCloud is, he doesn't say anything about "mangas". Mangas have sequential art too. And I am pretty sure that most people agree with me. Infact I prefer reading mangas more than western comic books.
In chapter one McCloud tells that he got his inspiration from a friend to read comics when he was in eighth grade. Growing up, he had difficult ties explaining how comics have more meaning than "Bad art, stupid stories and guys in tights". Comics, defined in this chapter are a visual art in sequence Visual art in sequence go back as far as Egyptian hieroglyphics and paintings and engravings from the 1500s. In the Egyptian comic, it is about slavery. There are Egyptian peasants working to harvest crops and they have to pay taxes. Peasants who pay their taxes late are beaten. McCloud point of showing the Egyptian sequence is to demonstrate how long comics have been around but he makes it clear that he does not know where they originated. McCloud introduces history about a 20th century man named William Hogarth. Hogarth’s stories were presented as series of paintings and engravings side by side. In chapter one, McCloud explains how most comics of the century has never been recognized as comics. Photography is also considered as a comic. Helpful airline diagrams that explain the procedure of how to but on an oxygen mask are also comics. McCloud concludes chapter one by saying that it is not easy to define a comic because a lot of things can be considered as comics but most do not have recognition of being comics.
Chapter two is not as straight forward as chapter one. Chapter two was based on images. Images don’t always have the same meaning as they appear. McCloud's example of this is on page 26. I believe that he is trying to explain that as readers, we should visualize and understand the artist perspective an image. The pipe comic is a good example. As readers we see the comic, and we think to ourselves that it is a pipe. The artist on the other hand says that is not a pipe. It’s confusing.
Chapter one reminded me a lot about the article The Early Comic Strip: Narrative Strips and Picture Stories in the European Broadsheet From 1450 to 1825. Chapter one had similar details about the definition of a comic. I hated the “torture of Saint Erasmus". It was too gross for me. When I saw it, it made me visualize how real the event was. ewwwww
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One thing that really stood out to me throughout the reading was the point brought up in Chapter two about looking at a photo or realistic drawing of your face. He describes this as a person entering a world of cartoon of them. Which make sense mainly because you can’t look at yourself other ways than just a mirror, picture, or drawing you can only guess or trust that you look a particular way? For instance, if you smile you smile because you trusted this mask called your face to respond. So after reading these few chapters I could take my better understanding of comics to further assist me in the future.
Chapter one then begins with how McCloud read comics as a kid but soon outgrew them, and thought of them as "bright, colorful magazines filled with bad art, stupid stories and guys in tights." then as time progressed a friend of his introduced him to comics through a different perspective. He must have shed light, and changed Scotts mind to what comics were and are. Young Scott began reading and found comics to be something so spectacular, almost immediately he was hooked. He became so tightly attached and fascinated with comics that he started to practice them independently, and illustrating his own ideas. The question, what is comics? Then arises, Will Eisner who is a master in the comic art form describes comics as sequential art. As the reading progresses a broader definition for what comics are is found, juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence is the new, more sophisticated definition. The author then goes into detail about the history of comics and how they evolved into being read from left to right. Comics have been around for centuries and most openly admit to not knowing when the first comic originated. Some argue that Trajan's column, Greek painting and Japanese scrolls are the beholders to the beginning of comics. As you read on you notice how much comics are widely looked down on and dramatically frowned upon, though for a second comics are finally being recognized and upheld as great communication tools, only to be slapped down and called diagrams NOT comics. Chapter one is then concluded by declaring that comics do not single out a particular color, shape, size, type or genre. Chapter two starts of with a variety of icons which means any image used to represent a person, place, thing or idea. Icons are used to represent concepts, ideas, and philosophies. "in the non-pictorial icons, meaning is fixed and absolute." in pictures the meaning is "fluid and variable according to appearance." Scott goes on by taking a real life image of a human face, and sawing it down to a cartoon, he then wonders why we still recognize this as a human face. He then points out the styles that are used today which are purely iconic or realistic or a mixture of the two.
I now have a greater understanding of comics and how difficult they can be to interpret, and how much time and effort is spent to create them. I now have broader knowledge, and a brighter perspective on the over all topic of comics. From the creation, to the sequence, to the mediums being used, to the genres being portrayed and to the icons being applied.
Chapter two of "Understanding Comics" was very complex. As McCloud went from discussing topics of realistic drawings to abstract images and so on. McCloud went on to talk about how human portray their selves in images in things they see and it takes on an extended identity. The inanimate objects are what he called them and human use them to take on different identities. McCloud also discussed the difference between realistic drawing and cartoon drawing. The topics he discussed were very interesting. The vocabulary topic was also very intriguing.
I think that the reading of these two chapters were very helpful of me understanding comics in the future if i decided to read one. I will have a better grasp and comprehension of the topic. i recommend these two chapters to future comic book readers.
25 January 2010
The first chapter starts with the fact that McCloud once thought he was too old for comics until, he was in the eighth grade and his friend lent McCloud his collection. McCloud believed that people didn’t understand comics because they had a narrow definition of what exactly a comic was. Maybe if there was a proper definition people wouldn’t take comics so lightly, McCloud thought. Finally, after serious trial and error, McCloud final comes up with the perfect definition for a comic. Comics are juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer.
Comics have always been around for thousands of years, we just don’t connect brightly colored paintings to comics. McCloud stated how comics have had a major role in history and the ancient cultures existing during those times. The paintings on the walls that can be defined as comics told the stories of different cultures. Egyptian hieroglyphics, when shown as a whole, fit the comic definition McCloud came up with.
In the second chapter, McCloud explains how to understand comics and the idea that images aren’t always images. Comics are made up of icons and not actual images. A reader responds to cartoons that aren’t realistic and highly detailed. Our minds take two dots and a line and make a face in our head. The fact is when we look at icons, our minds automatically put two and two together creating the image in our head and understanding what it is. The human mind sees everything as having human features. After reading the introduction and the first two chapters, I have a better understanding what a comic is defined as. Now, when I read history books and see pictures of wall paintings, I will want to automatically connect those wall paintings to comics. McCloud made me change my mind that comics are just simple drawings that are straightforward. When in fact, comics can be interpreted even further than what is on the page in front of us.
The first two chapters of Understanding Comics were very interesting. Scott McCloud starts off the first chapter with a short introduction telling in detail how he was introduced into the comic world. He states that he thought comics were some sort of childish reading material. Then when his friend gave him a few copies to read he then became hooked on comics. His addiction with comics was so intense that he decided to practice drawing every day so one day he can become a comic book writer/illustrator. Even though everyone around him would mock him for they believed that comics were poorly drawn stories with a bad plot. He then goes into detail describing the requirements needed for images and literature to be considered a comic strip. This turns up a funny sequence of illustrations that show him trying to describe what exactly comic books are. He ends up with the description juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence. After coming to that conclusion he states the role comics have had in history and its importance to the cultures of the time. He showed examples of them using the Maya drawings Egyptian hieroglyph and others with are considered art. He states that these are pretty close to the description of comics yet are not considered comics yet history or art. The artist frank Masereel’s passionate journey is very close to art yet art hierarchies don’t want such a piece to be classified art. Then he ends the chapter with mentioning what the description left out. Such as what comics can be made of. At the beginning of the chapter Scott show a drawing of a pipe with French writing underneath translating to “this is not a pipe”. He then uses this example to show how the images in all drawings are not what they are representing they are just ink on paper. He then uses this example to magnify what we see when we look upon icons. Scott goes on to show how from life objects to icons or abstract drawings the images become less life-like. Yet again the subject changes this time to the way we see faces in everything and that’s the reason we can associate icons or abstract drawings to real-life objects. Next Scott shows how our minds simplify images and add inanimate objects as an extension of our bodies. Finally he details the styles that are out there such as purely iconic, purely realistic, or a combination of the two.
After reading these two chapters I feel like I understand comics more. I now see the complexity in every single image more clearly. I also found how the creators of the comics have aligned the words and images to create a masterpiece. I have also learned the difference between abstract drawings and iconic drawings. I also learned the effects of iconic drawings and how they are easier to identify with. I have found the first two chapters of this book to be very good. I didn’t feel like I was reading a book. This made it fun to read. Although there are some instances where Scott was going too fast that it seemed he would jump around I found this to be a relatively easy reading. And the fact that it is in a comic book form makes it all the more interesting. I can’t wait to see what the other chapters hold.
It’s the first superman comic ever. This comic has it all. Starting at the beginning, Alien parents put their own child for adoption because other ways he’d get blown up with the rest of the planet. The comic continues following the alien orphan’s life on earth. Turns out that the boys a little different. He has super human abilities. Short aside is taken to explain the science of the boys advanced anatomy. The story starts with the orphan when he becomes fully grown turns in to Superman. What is Superman’s first act? He gets a murderess off of the death sentence. She was falsely accused and there is another lady who is guilty and confesses to it. Clark then gets the job to track down superman. Convenient Clark is sent to report on a wife betting incident. Quick question who calls a news paper when they known a man is beating his wife? In any case Superman shows up and makes the woman beater pass out. Clark is hitting in the next frame on Louis Lane during work. Aaaaaaa ……the carefree days before sexual harassment and no dating in the work place policies. Louis is more interesting then Superman. Interesting enough to catch the eyes of gangsters named Butch. Louis slaps gagsters and ditches her date. Clark is left alone to don tights and cape. He rescues Louis from Butch. Then he lets her walk home from the outskirts of a major city? Another quick question was it necessary to brakes his car to bits? I mean ready he all ready shook the criminals out of the car like cheerios out of the box. May-be I’m just too much of a girl to get that. Then it’s off to San Monte. Just kidding instead the man of steel is going to right the world of politics. This comic has it all. The romantic and heroic and political man it has gangsters it has murderesses it has stinking aliens. Unfortunately it lacks a plot. Any one of these subjects would have made a great comic book may-be even a series of comic books but it seems that the writer had a lot of half baked ideas that he decided to through together in to one issue.
24 January 2010
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!