25 January 2010

chapters 1 and 2 of understanding comics

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.


  1. Excellent post, Tim! Aside from maybe separating your Chapter 1 and 2 summaries for clarity, this is really good.

  2. Great way to summarize. I think you interpreted the reading nicely, and to top it off your response was well written too.