10 June 2009

This is the Title of My Blog

In chapter seven of Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud is defending whether or not comics can be art.  Just the fact that he has to answer the question, "Can comics be art?", astounds him because he thinks this is a stupid question.  He has a very wide definition of art, "Any human activity which doesn't grow out of either of our species' two basic instincts: survival and reproduction".  So, of course he consider comics an art form.  Oh, I completely agree that comics are an art form and a very complex one at that.  However, his definition is just too broad for me.  Under Scott McCloud's definition, murder can be considered an art and for some reason I just don't think it is.  Now farting, for all that, will also fit McCloud's definition and can be considered pure art if done correctly.  Especially if that person decides what they want out of that art form is laughs.  Scott McCloud discusses a path consisting of six steps that all art mediums follow without exception.  They may not always come to fruition in the same order but these six steps will always exist and they are, idea/purpose, form, idiom, structure, craft, and surface.  The step which most interests me because it is appreciated by people more easily, is surface.  If you ask me, surface is the reason why comic books are so overlooked and why movies, for example, are so quickly loved.  It doesn't take much effort for humans to be entertained by movies.  Since movies are so visual, the only thing people have to do is sit there and be entertained by the surface.  In fact, it is the surface of a movie that can make someone not realize how crappy the acting may be.  In this fashion, making surface just a tool for diversion.  The drawn cartoon-like surface of a comic book, on the other hand, will make most "educated" people turn the other way.  As a consequence, those people will sadly miss out on all the great purpose, form, idiom, structure, and craft hidden inside.
Chapter nine is basically a summary of why comics are such a glorious art form.  Comics are just another way to communicate expression from one person, or persons, to other people throughout our world.  This is something I agree with as I don't believe anybody should be confined or set limits to learning new ideas and trying new things.


  1. I agree, his definition is too broad for me as well. Your example with movies being "quickly loved" over comics due to surface helped me better understand that whole apple example in the book, because i didn't really get it at first. Nice =)

  2. I agree with McCloud's definition of art. I thought that because the definition was so broad it could include more, be more, leave more to the imagination, and isn't that what McCloud has been trying to say this who time. Comics have an endless possibility. I didn't think about murder being art though, but why not? ;)

  3. I also find that McClouds definition of comics extremely broad. He leaves too much to chance.I agree that murder is DEFINITLY not art. I believe there is no such thing as an accident, all things happen for a reason. I personlly think not everything I do is art.

  4. Your explanation of surface is excellent here, Jesse! It's exactly for this reason that educated gamers like us look down on fanboys only interested in graphics ;-) But it's that way in all mediums--the surface is what's most readily accessible to the audience, so whatever "looks best" is what's going to be most popular :-(

    But I'm with Amber: why can't murder or farting be art? Perhaps Marcus' and your contestation is that they "shouldn't" be art.