05 June 2010

Emotionally Understanding Comics

Scott McCloud understands that comic books are usually "crude, poorly-drawn, semi literate, cheap, disposable kiddy fare, " but he believes they don't have to be. McCloud thinks that comics contain some kind of hidden power. He feels that people fail to appreciate comics as an art form because they try to define them to narrowly. McCloud then opens chapter 2 with a description and example of the Magritte painting, " The Treachery of Images." Although the subject of the painting is a common pipe, the artist's message reads, " This is not a pipe." As Scott explains, this is really not a pipe, nor is it a painting of a pipe. It is actually ten copies of a drawing of a painting of a pipe, when one considers that each panel on the two opening pages depicting the painting actually represents one copy. McCloud uses this example to demonstrate one of the many uses of icons, or images used to represent a person, place, thing or idea. McCloud also goes on to discuss how varying levels of icon ism and realism are used in comics to achieve various effects. A Brief overview:
  • No genres define "comics." "Comics" is not a genre, but a format. "Sequential art" can be about any subject. (chapter 1)
  • Viewing cartoon-like images helps us picture ourselves. A simple style does not necessarily mean a simple story. Symbols and icons are somewhat universal. (chapter 2)
As I started realizing what he was saying about genre, I got really excited. Comics are not a genre, but a format that tell a story. I for one am not particullarly drawn to superheroes and fantasy fable comics. But there are comics in subjects I am interested in, and those comics I should look for. In page 3 of "Understanding Comics" the information truly stood out to me. "If people failed to understand comics, it was because they defined what comics could be too narrowly. A proper definition, if we could find one, might give lie to the stereotypes and show that the potential of comics is limitless and exciting."

03 June 2010

Welcome to Our Blog!

Welcome to NMHU's Rhetoric of Comics class blog!

If you're a new student, this is where you'll be posting your thoughts on the various subjects we'll be studying this summer. Since your classmates will be doing the same, it will also be where you'll learn and exchange new ideas outside of the classroom. I'll also be posting from time to time with helpful links, important notices, and anything interesting I might find (click the link to see the kinds of stuff I've posted for past classes). On the right, I've already begun collecting links to other interesting bloggers, whose ideas might inspire or guide you in your ongoing research for this class. You'll also periodically find a poll, which I'll use to get your anonymous feedback on the course.

Even if you're just visiting our site, feel free to read and comment on our posts. Students have been asked to summarize the most important points of a reading and then "free think" about the piece. I'll also be taking the best written/well thought out post of each week and re-posting it on my own blog, The Daily Pugle. And your feedback will be very helpful.

You'll also find the "Labels" I use to organize the subject of our posts on the right. Simply click one you might be interested in, and every post on the subject will appear for your review. In any event, I hope you will find our class blog interesting and useful.

And now, a funny comic about blogging from XKCD. For bonus points, would David Kunzle classify this a comic?

Questions? Quibbles? Controversies?