24 February 2011

Debatable Definition Causes a Ruckus in the Comic World

A response was made by Dylan Horrocks called Inventing Comics: Scott McCloud’s Definition of Comics and it focuses on Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: the Invisible Art. Horrocks considers Understanding Comics to be an important book of comic theory and a manifesto to the comic community. Horrocks claims McCloud’s definition truly justifies what comics should or should not be and what we should value less or more about comics.

Horrocks goes on to claim that McCloud does not justify why Eisner’s definition of “Sequential Art” is definitive in comics, and he chose it based on his personal likings. McCloud takes the concept of “Sequential Art” in order to rewrite it and rename it as comics. Horrocks claims that the definition is a metaphoric system made from other related metaphors, such as, “Comics are a literary genre”. McCloud’s definition is broad and based on visual mediums that he considers and reconsiders children’s picture books to be comics. But since McCloud decided that pictures must tell a whole story, Horrocks feels that McCloud should add an amendment to his definition stating, “Comics must not only contain pictorial narrative; they must be dominated by it”. Overall, the definition provides some closure. McCloud erases the history of comics to focus our attention mainly on media. But then in his book, he returns to the history once more to reclaim cultural artifacts that have been incorporated by other art forms. With the easel of the marginal status of comics as well makes Horrocks believes that McCloud is less concerned about the past than the future of comics. Horrocks suggests that McCloud created a myth in his book that claims pictures gave birth to writing. Horrocks believes, “…with the invention of comics, pictures have finally won the war with language and replaced words altogether”. Horrocks claims that McCloud’s Understanding Comics has helped build the comic nation.

With complete honesty, this response was highly dense and long just like Mr. Ben warned. I do not know how many times I read over it, but it still manages to get me stumped. I did not enjoy the reading very much nor can I agree with Horrocks. The fact that McCloud’s book helped me become more open minded towards comics, I cannot stray far from his opinions. I suppose I will remain a sheep in McCloud’s flock.

McCloud: Still a Comic Genius!

Dylan Horrak writes in his article, Inventing Comics, about Scott McClouds definition on comic books and the world they revolve around. According to Horrak, McClouds definition is too broad and isn't very good. Horrak shows a few comic panels from McClouds book and talks about how McClouds definition is too broad. Horrack states: "Nowhere in Understanding Comics does Scott attempt to justify why ‘Sequential Art’ should be seen as the one definitive element in comics to the exclusion of all others"(Horrak 2). I don't think McCloud attempts this because he is trying to make is own definition about comics and not use Eisners'. Horrak then states:"His textual vocabulary, too, is often built on these geographical metaphors"(3). He then quotes some of these "metaphores" that McCloud uses. At the end of his article Horrak then says good things about McClouds book.'Reading Understanding Comics brought those two ways of loving comics together for me - in that sense it helped me to write my own book Hicksville. Part of me has been in a dialogue with Scott’s book for the past six years - and will be for some time yet."(6)

To me it seems like Horrak is trying to 'out do' McCloud and say that McClouds definition isn't a fit one. For someone to write a whole book about comics in comic form isn't easy. McCloud really knows what he is talking about and it all makes sense. The whole purpose of this book was to shed a positive light on comic books not to go into such depth about the definition. Sure the definition is kind of broad but after reading this book most will look at comics differently. And if so... Mission Accomplished by Scott McCloud!

Comic Superstition

In Dylan Horrock's Inventing Comics: Scott McCloud' s definition of comics, Horrock explains hows McClould's work is theory. Horrock says that the only reason people take McCloud's argument as truth is because they share McCloud's ideas. McCloud uses his definition to establish limits, but like all definitions, it is an expression of values and assumptions.

Horrock explains that the main value McCloud establishes is closure. Closure allows pictures to transcend the traditional limitaitons of the single image, becoming narrative. Even though McCloud values closure, many people see the problem of comics as crude, poorly drawn pictures while their real problem is the reason people see them this way. What holds comics back are people's attitudes.

Along with comics problems, McCloud writes that comics problems are associated with not what they could be, but what they have been. In order to advance, comics need to get rid of their history. McCloud talks of a division of form vs. content. He also explains the phrase "form as vessel." Form as vessel can hold any number of ideas and images. Even if you do not like comics, you should be able to admire the form. The form McCloud talks about focuses the readers attention on the pure shiny form. This makes comics an equal medium in the eyes of the public.

Horrock also writes of how McCloud uses Eisner's term because it is useful. The term highlights the things McCloud values most about comics. Horrock explains how McCloud basically just uses Eisner's term and makes it into a dictionary style definition and renames it comics. The new meaning just colonizes the old meaning. This is why Scott McCloud's book is arguable because he bases his book off a definition that he just renamed.

Another argument Horrock brings up is McCloud's fear of words or Logo phobia. McCloud thinks a comic should be dominated by pictures and have little dialogue, but my McCloud's definition, as long as their is two pictures somewhere in a book and they tell a narrative, then that book is a comic. McCloud also does not attempt to define the border between words and pictures. There is no rule stated to as how much text and pictures can be in a comic.

This reading was somewhat hard to read, but had a lot of valuable information to make the reader think twice about some of McCloud's ideas. The summary was to show the reader that McCloud's book should not be taken as fact, but as an arguable opinion. The reader can argue the statements McCloud makes. Horrock does a good job of making his arguments of issues he disagrees with McCloud. We now have good reason to be superstitious about the definition of comics.

23 February 2011

Does McCloud Really Do A Good Job At Defining Comics? Some Think Otherwise!

Is Scott McClouds definition really a good definition of comics? Well Inventing Comics by Dylan Horrack is all about McCloud’s definition of comics and why it isn’t that good of a definition. In McCloud’s book Understanding Comics he tries to define comics and make people think of comics in a different light. Horrack’s piece is all about how McCloud doesn’t do a good job defining comics. In Horrack’s second paragraph he states “When you’re preaching to the converted, its easy to convince them that you’re speaking the Truth- rationally rather than rhetorically. (Horrack page 1)” Harrack starts off by explaining McCloud’s book and how he goes about explaining comics. Horrack explains how McCloud came up with the definition that he came up. The term ‘Sequential Art’ actually came from Eisner who used it in his when he was defining the art of comics. Throughout Horrack’s piece he talks about how McCloud’s definition is not very good, because he just uses a term that someone else used and just said it was the definition of comics. Scott McCloud makes his definition look like a dictionary style so the he pulls the reader into believing that his definition is correct. Horrack mentions in his piece that McClouds doesn't say anything about the style or the content of comics. He merely defines comics as sequential art. Another big part about McCloud's definition is closure. Horrack just writes about all the bad aspects of McClouds definition.

I think that Horrack's piece on McClouds book is good. I like it because he really talks about why McCloud's definition is not good, or accurate. I agree with Horrack just because McCloud doesn't ever talk about what makes up comics and i think that is important. Before I read this piece i really liked McClouds definition, but now i think that it is to broad. McClouds definition can include some stuff that I do not think are comics. But everyone has their own view on comics. Comics can include a lot of things but i think that McClouds definition is too broad. And Harrock just shows all the bad things about McClouds book and definition

Is McCloud's Definition Still Great?

Dylan Horrocks wrote a response to Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art called Inventing Comics: Scott McCloud's Definition of Comics. He believes Understanding Comics is the most important book of comic theory. He states that McCloud's definition of comics is saying this is what comics should be and should not be. In his response to Scott McCloud's book he takes a look at McCloud's definition.

He goes over chapter one by summarizing and paraphrasing selected panels in the chapter. He paraphrases that in page 3, panels 7-9 Scott McCloud come up with a solution to change people's perceptions of what they think comics really are. Dylan Horrocks explains that McCloud's metaphor of himself spitting out the comic drink because he does not acquire the taste for that specific comic; McCloud is implying that if a person does not like most comics they still can admire the form (genre, style, publishing and history) of comics.

Dylan Horrocks then begins to go over Scott McCloud's definition. He says sequential art is where Scott's search for a definition begins and ends. He believes that part of McCloud's definition "sequential art" is the "hidden power" because it makes the readers think of closure. According to Dylan Horrocks, McCloud does not try to prove that his definition is right but that McCloud is showing what he admires and appreciates most about comics. He shows that McCloud expands on his idea of sequential art and turns it in to a standard dictionary definition. He states that McCloud's definition is great because it includes so many things but it also has its limitations stating that comics are not single panel cartoons.

Although Dylan Herrocks believes Scott McCloud's definition is great, he also states that Scott McCloud is unable to define it all. When McCloud was asked if his definition included children literature his answer was "not if the prose is independent of the pictures..". Herrocks find his answer reviling because you would think that from Scott McCloud's definition, children's books would be considered comics too. He believes McCloud would be willing to include picture books because he included photo booth pictures and stained glass windows as sequential art. But why not children's books?

I agree with Dylan Herrocks that McCloud struggles to qualify his definition. I think McCloud should fully include children books or fully exclude children's books. After reading his response I wondered if McCloud's definition was as great to me as it originally was. I came to the conclusion that his definition is now "OK". Even though he did not specify everything his definition is broad yet it still excludes things such as a children's book.

22 February 2011

Time to Rip McCloud a New One!

I kid. We're not going to tear him apart. But my buddy Dylan Horrocks is going to do that for us!

Dylan Horrocks' article Inventing Comics: Scott McCloud's Definition of Comics is kind of like our Rhetorical Analysis essay on steroids. It was first published in The Comics Journal, an academic periodical about comics, in 2001--ten years after Understanding Comics. It's an important piece because while our class (and McCloud's readership as a whole) takes his ideas at face value, Horrocks shows us why we shouldn't. And it's in that that we can truly see the brilliance of McCloud's rhetoric.

This is your reading for Thursday. But be warned, it's pretty long, somewhat dense, and I want you to blog about it! This is not a Wednesday-at-10pm assignment! You need to spend some time with this text before your write about it, and then give yourself some time to draft a strong. coherent post. As this essay will feature heavily in our Contextual Analysis essay, you'll want to make sure you have a good grasp on it before we discuss it in class and clear up the difficult bits.

Your blog will begin with your typical summary (which will be very helpful when it's time to start our second essay), and end with your response to Horrocks' thesis. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Lastly, because of how important it will be to look at this piece as a class, you need to come to class with notes on the article! You can even just print up your blog post on it if you want. But you need to come to class prepared to discuss his ideas, and you can't do that from memory!

Questions? Quibbles? Controversies?