11 February 2012
09 February 2012
Chapter Six of Understanding comics lays a great importance on the close bond shared by words and pictures and, how we as children perceived pictures and words as a combination as a way to express ourselves, however we out grew them. McCloud restates and emphasizes on words and pictures just like in Chapter Two. He looks at the two as being two sides of the same coin.
This chapter not only works towards his definition of comics but also towards broadening the mindset of people. People who believe that art and literature can be portrayed only if the two are kept separate. A great way to explain the combined outcome of the two is the main reason for the success of Commercials, as they approach their mass media through words and pictures. As children we learnt to read by the help of pictures, learn to show and tell- but gradually we start reading books without any pictures at all. A related path can be drawn amongst many ancient forms of art, where people were shown as icons, drawings where more like letters where the images were flat and bright. Even then, the letters were more or less like pictures. Words and images were side by side, just like the lower-left vertex of McCloud's great pyramid. But, over the course of the next thousands of years, they diverged. Letters surrendered to visual representation and pictures grew richer and more complex to such an extent that looking at them was more like looking at reality than at thoughts.
Words and pictures compliment each other. Comparing the two- like partners in a dance is an excellent illustration as they support each other’s strengths. The chapter’s title can also be read both ways as they function just like how words and pictures work- show and tell, tell and show.
McCloud starts the beinging of the chapter with a little boy at show and tell, and he does so to demonstrate how comics are in way, show and tell. Comics are very much the same thing (McCloud is clever). The item you bring is the show part. The comic book brings you the pictures. The pictures are nice, but the words, they help you to understand why the pictures are there in the first place. Granted, both words and pictures are worth their OWN weight in gold, but together, as McCloud puts it, it is Alchemy. I liked that comparison, it articulates just how precise comics are once they reach their finished state (the good ones at least.)
In chapter 7 of “Understanding Comics- The Invisible Art,” Scott McCloud is informing us that comics and art are the same. He writes the definition of art, which is, “any human activity which doesn’t grow out of either of our species’ two basic instincts: survival and reproduction.” (pg. 164) His statement is about how art is in our everyday lives, even when there were cave people. The first example that Scott provides us with favors the two basic instincts. A caveman is in the “mood” to reproduce and is chasing a female. (This is the reproduction instinct) The female is running away and hides because she doesn’t want to reproduce. The caveman encounters a saber tooth tiger and runs for his life. (This is the survival instinct) The caveman is trapped at a cliff edge and the saber tooth tiger lunges at him. The caveman jumps out of the tiger’s way. The saber tooth tiger falls to his death and the caveman makes faces in the tiger’s direction. Today, the basic two instincts: survival and reproduction are still the same but they are just more complex.
The other examples are about how art played a role in the cave people’s lives. They could’ve drawn pictures in the dirt using a stick, which is also known as self-expression. They also might have made a rhythm by hitting two stones together. We do not take into account the idea art and the basic two instincts are still in our everyday lives today. It could be the way we sign our signature or our personal sense of style.
Mr. McCloud also informs us about the six steps that are essential to the comic artist. He uses an apple to make the reader understand that the six steps are in levels. The first step is the idea and metaphorically, the apple seeds. The first step becomes a, “tool and the powers of the art will rely on the powers of the ideas within,” as noted by Scott McCloud (pg. 179) The second level is form. On this step the artist decides the form that he/she wants to use. He/she could use the form of a song, a book or just about anything, there are no limits. The one question that refers to both the first two steps is asked to or by him/herself at one point to every artist is, “Why am I doing this?” Idiom is the third step; it is the vocabulary of styles or gestures or subject matter, the genre that the work belongs to. The fourth step is structure, this is the step that helps the artist decide how they are going to organize their information, and what they are going to leave in and/or take out. The fifth step is the construction of the work or in other words the story of the comic, this is called the craft. The sixth step is the production value and finishing or metaphorically known as the surface of the apple. An example that Mr. McCloud states to make the reader understand that the six steps will work together correctly no matter what order you discover them in, is a dinosaur’s skeleton bones. He uses this example because dinosaur bones are almost never found in the correct order but the bones fit perfectly when they are put together.
He provides information along with examples that are at the basic level. He gives more examples than what is expected. By doing this the beneficiaries are the reader and Scott McCloud. The readers benefit by learning more about comics. Mr. McCloud benefits by proving his credibility, he does this by providing many examples and showing different point of views.
08 February 2012
The way past and present society has viewed literature containing pictures as being just for children is dismal. In history, people have gone from pictures, to words with pictures, to only words, and then have gone back to slowly accepting a combination of words and pictures again thereby creating an ironclad way of writing in which the meaning will appeal to today’s society. How many books have we read that we thought would have been more exciting if only they had pictures? How many textbooks have we studied that would have explained the point better if they had contained pictures? I agree with Scott McCloud that we need to keep changing the way in which we communicate as society evolves or people will stop reading and learning all together. Today is not yesterday, but maybe one day our writing will go back to looking like this…it’s my name “Michael” in hieroglyphics!