24 February 2011

Debatable Definition Causes a Ruckus in the Comic World

A response was made by Dylan Horrocks called Inventing Comics: Scott McCloud’s Definition of Comics and it focuses on Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: the Invisible Art. Horrocks considers Understanding Comics to be an important book of comic theory and a manifesto to the comic community. Horrocks claims McCloud’s definition truly justifies what comics should or should not be and what we should value less or more about comics.

Horrocks goes on to claim that McCloud does not justify why Eisner’s definition of “Sequential Art” is definitive in comics, and he chose it based on his personal likings. McCloud takes the concept of “Sequential Art” in order to rewrite it and rename it as comics. Horrocks claims that the definition is a metaphoric system made from other related metaphors, such as, “Comics are a literary genre”. McCloud’s definition is broad and based on visual mediums that he considers and reconsiders children’s picture books to be comics. But since McCloud decided that pictures must tell a whole story, Horrocks feels that McCloud should add an amendment to his definition stating, “Comics must not only contain pictorial narrative; they must be dominated by it”. Overall, the definition provides some closure. McCloud erases the history of comics to focus our attention mainly on media. But then in his book, he returns to the history once more to reclaim cultural artifacts that have been incorporated by other art forms. With the easel of the marginal status of comics as well makes Horrocks believes that McCloud is less concerned about the past than the future of comics. Horrocks suggests that McCloud created a myth in his book that claims pictures gave birth to writing. Horrocks believes, “…with the invention of comics, pictures have finally won the war with language and replaced words altogether”. Horrocks claims that McCloud’s Understanding Comics has helped build the comic nation.

With complete honesty, this response was highly dense and long just like Mr. Ben warned. I do not know how many times I read over it, but it still manages to get me stumped. I did not enjoy the reading very much nor can I agree with Horrocks. The fact that McCloud’s book helped me become more open minded towards comics, I cannot stray far from his opinions. I suppose I will remain a sheep in McCloud’s flock.


  1. You say, "Horrock claims McCloud's definition truly justifies what comics should and should not be." I don't agree with this. In Horrock's article, he says that McCloud's definition for comics is just a dictionary style definition for "sequential art". Technically, this is not McCloud's definition, McCloud just rewrote the style of "sequential art".

  2. That's a good point, justin, but keep in mind that Horrocks is arguing that McCloud presented his definition this way to give his definition credibility.

    This is a great post, Tiara.

    But try to avoid using quotes in your summaries unless absolutely necessary. Usually, summaries should boil down a text to its essential points. Quoting presents them as they are.

    Your first two citations are okay, but your last raises new points without explaining them.