11 June 2009

Maybe Comics Are Not the Mona Lisa, but They Are Art

In Chapter 7, McCloud defines art as “any human activity which doesn’t grow out of either of our species two basic instincts: survival and reproduction.” McCloud then goes on to discuss the 6 steps that every artist must go through to create art. The steps are idea/purpose (purpose of the content), form (the form it will take), idiom (genre the work belongs to), structure (putting it all together, what to include and exclude), craft (constructing the work, applying skills), and surface (production value, the superficial exposure).
I like McCloud’s definition of art. It is broad enough to not only include fine art masterpieces like the Mona Lisa, but can also include what some would call lesser art like the comic book and everything in between. Sometimes I think that people try too hard to make art fit into this perfect mold. If art is all about expressing human emotion, then how could it ever fit into any kind of mold? That would be like putting limitations on what people can feel (and that is just not cool). I also agree with McCloud’s 6 steps (even though at first I thought it was another chapter two). At first I thought there is not process to art, rather it just happens. However, then I took the time to think about it. Anytime in my life I have created art, whether it be a painting or a song, I go through these steps; I have an idea, I decide what form I want it in, I pick my genre, and so on. I just never realized that was what I was doing until McCloud explained it. Maybe McCloud could have talked a little more on how one doesn’t always realize that the steps are happening, but overall I think he did a great job of getting the point of how art is created.
Chapter 9 is all about wrapping up what McCloud had said throughout the book. McCloud refreshes us on his opinions on everything from his definition of comics, “juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence,” to icons. He creates closure for his comic about comics. Then goes on to explain the infinite possibilities of comics.
What a great way to end a book. To his credit, I think the summary of every chapter is neat, succinct, and to the point. McCloud seemed to move though them seamlessly. I wish the rest of the book was like that. McCloud should have tried to make the chapters on icons and timing this seamless. I think they would have been received better, especially by me!
Overall, I think McCloud did a great job of selling the idea that comics are art. I didn’t always agree with his methods (30+ pages on the vocabulary of comics), but the end result has made me see that comics are a valid art form, and I think they should be better respected in the art world.


  1. I have to agree with you on the simplicity of the last chapter and how it seemed to move seamlessly. I too wish the whole book was like that. Great blog!!!

  2. I'm with you on not trying to force art into a mold. But I'd never thought of defining art as "putting limitations on what people can feel." Excellent.

    But why is everyone ignoring McCloud's discussion of mediums?!

  3. I really like how you summarized McCloud's points. It was an easy understanding of the chapter. & I do agree with you that comics are a valid art form it's just some people don't necessary agree because they don't meet this form or presentation of the "normal" art work.