03 February 2011

What is this, an early Spring Break?!

So we have now missed 2 days of class due to "weather related issues." Since I hardly consider no heat a good reason to cancel classes, I'm understandably perturbed by this--but that's a separate issue.

As I wrote a couple of days ago, despite a week of no class, I expect you to continue the work scheduled on our syllabus. Since today was going to be a work day in which I had asked you to bring your rough drafts, we're really not all that badly off. I still expect you to turn in rough drafts on Tuesday, and as it's a workshop day, I'd like you to bring in at least 3 copies.

I apologize if it seems unfair to hold to our essay schedule when we have not been able to meet to discuss it. But remember that it's only the rough draft that's due, and I don't plan on failing you if it isn't perfect, because it won't be. That's why we draft and revise. Also, if you really have dire concerns regarding your essay, you can always e-mail them to me. Lastly, as I explained in the first week of classes, falling behind before Spring Break means less time to work on the Research Project after Spring Break. And trust me, you will want all the time you can get for that!

So we will soldier on!

Questions? Quibbles? Controversies?

01 February 2011

Comprehending Comics

Chapters three and four are about how comics use something called closure and time and space and the to help the reader understand everything that is going on inside and out of a panel. By using time and space Mc. Cloud can actually get you to feel the amount of time that happens from one panel to the next. Also, using closure, Mc. Cloud also helps you to understand the material as a whole instead of just one picture at a time.
According to Mc. Cloud, closure is when your mind works in order to understand what has just happened and that something actually did happen. He expresses this in his panel about the man being killed and says that he never actually killed the guy but, as the reader, you end up filling in the space however your mind desires it to happen. There is Moment-to-moment closure, Action-to-action, Subject-to-subject, Scene-to-scene and Aspect-to-Aspect closure/transition. What these different types of transitions or closures do are different ways in which our mind make sense of the things in order to understand all the panels of a comic book.
Using time and space Mc. Cloud gives us a sense of the amount of time it takes for one panel to transfer to the next panel. He goes into talking about in some comics or styles its harder to understand do to the pictures, what's going on in each panel, and even about the panel shapes themselves. He talks about the long picture with seemingly everything happening at once. As you look through it though it all takes time to get to each person talking which gives it a sense of time and space. This allows us to comprehend that the panel isn't actually happening in just one instance but over about 30-45 seconds.
How Mc. Cloud describes both time and closure gave me a different look on how I understand comics. I always knew that my own mind did fill in the blanks or I did understand how long each comic was between panels but I never completely comprehended or even thought about it. This wasn't the most exciting chapter or anything but it does give the reader a type of new light to look at comics through. After reading these two chapters, I would agree with Mc. Cloud on the idea that comics are more of an art than anything

Timing is Everything

Chapters three and four were mainly about closure and how comics use time to help the reader understand panels. McCloud explains that closure is the space that separates each panel. Panels can be separated by different amounts of space, long or short. Between panels, the reader uses his/her imagination in decided what is happening, and what the action taking place looks like between panels. McCloud explains that the readers participation is a powerful force in comics.

McCloud breaks down closure into six categorizes. There is moment-to-moment, action-to-action, subject-to-subject, scene-to-scene, aspect-to-aspect, and non-sequitur. McCloud goes on to examine the two most used categories used in making comics. They are action-to-action and subject-to-subject. He also goes on to explain that comics from Japan use many of these categories.

Using these six categories of closure, a comic can tell a story in many different ways. The story can be in much detail, or have very simple detail. McCloud uses a very big panel to show a family in a room. There is a picture being taken, people on the sofa, and two gentlemen playing chess. McCloud explains that the panel is always read from left to right, and that time flows through this panel so it will make sense when you read it. Word bubbles are placed in left to right order in which the author wants you to read them in. Timing between panels can create a dramatic effect when needed. The two main concepts McCloud wants us to understand are timing and closure between panels.

Comic Science 101

Scott McCloud in chapters 3 and 4 in Understanding Comics, really gives a deep look into the basic science behind comics. What I mean by this is he really talks about what’s going on mentally for the reader through each picture, and in between as well. He describes how when we read a comic, we use our imagination in each individual box to inspire thoughts that go beyond what’s being told in the box.
It’s just like a young child playing peek-a-boo, they can’t see you, hear you, taste you, or touch you, so they think it isn’t even there, inexistent. He calls it an act of faith. So from panel to panel when you read, and use your imagination, that’s what he describes as closure. So our minds have to piece together the comic using our imagination, which means our own mind can unravel a story that is unlike the story in the imagination of another’s mind. Comics have six different translations through the sequential panels to help closure. One panel can represent more than one specific moment in time. Size really does matter as for the value of the comic. Bigger gaps between panels, signify a bigger pause, yet when there are no “boundaries” on the panel, it can show a timeless value. Motion can be influenced in many different ways but most use lines to move it through the given sequence or just even the single given background.
Over the two chapters in Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud talks about the exact sciences of what it means to be reading a comic. The use of imagination makes it so unique to each individual, to how they might think of what may be going on in the comic. Also the use of these panels and how they affect the time of the comic.  

How We Understand Panels and Time....

Chapter 3 of Understanding Comics starts off with a young boy trying to determine the meaning of his daydream that he believed was about the world being a figment of his imagination put on for his benefit. Then McCloud goes on to introduce the term closure which takes us from moment to moment of a comic and how we are able to make different panels become one scene. McCloud he gives us an in-depth look at what the “gutter” is between panels. The gutter is basically the change in scene from one panel to the next. Its our mind working from one panel taking in the scene and developing it to the next scene. McCloud then goes on to elaborate on the six different types of transitions that panels can have: Moment-to-moment, action-to-action, subject-to-subject, scene-to-scene, aspect-to-aspect, and lastly non-sequential.

Chapter 4 of Understanding Comics is explaining how important time and space are between panels of comic books. The size of panels also plays an important role in how we view the amount of time in the scene. Larger panels may allow us to assume a longer amount of time the same goes for smaller panels and a shorter amount of time. Also a single panel in a comic does not only represent a moment but it can also be an entire scene. The size of the space between panels can increase the pause we get out of each scene or moment.

In my opinion McCloud did a very good job at explaining and helping me “understand” both closure and time frames in both these chapters. I really like how this entire book is in comic book style. I am able to grasp the simplicity of reading a comic in an educational manner and i really think thats great. McCloud makes things much easier to understand while giving us examples of everything he’s trying to teach. This book so far actually has me interested! However I really want to color this book.

31 January 2011

Imagination and Time! Chapters 3 & 4

In Scott McClouds book Understanding Comics he shows that it is possible to learn from comics and that they are not just for certain people. Comics can be used to get any point or story across. They can be for any age group! Scott McCloud accomplishes his goal of helping people understand comics through the use of comics. In chapter three and four he goes over how people use their imagination when reading comics, and how frames are used to help with the timing of the art that is used in comics.

Chapter three in Understanding Comics is all about the closure of comics. What I got from McClouds explanation of closure is that it is just like imagination. McCloud explains how closure is used to "produce suspense or challenge the reader" they want the reader to think one thing so that they can be surprised by the actual outcome. Closure comes in many forms, some of which may be simple or complex. Images such as black and white pictures can be turned into reality with the use of imagination. The mind can make a simple image come to life. The gutter of a comic it the blank space that is between two frames. It is where the person has time to see both images and make them become one. The panels of a comic are used to show time and space and closure is what allows someone to connect all the images and construct them into reality. There are six categories of transitions that are used in comics, they are moment-to-moment, action-to-action, subject-to-subject, scene-to-scene, aspect-to-aspect, and non-sequiter. The transition having to do with moment requires very little closure, action transitions have to do with progression, the progression of a certain action being performed. Subject transitions requires involvement from the reader and scene transitions which carry the reader on a journey through time and space. Aspect transitions go past time and make the reader imagine new things, and non-sequiter transitions are just something that is random and has no real meaning.

Chapter four is all about time. And how frames help to show the timing of the events being shown in a comic. Frames are the rectangular boxes that surround a certain scene in a comic. One large frame may contain many other smaller frames. In the frames are what actually get the points across they show whats going on and the frame is just like the time keeper. By having spaces in between the frames that can show how long something is going on. They can also prolong time by showing multiples of the same image. The shape of a panel can also make a difference in the time. Example is a smaller square box can represent a short time, where as a longer rectangular box shows a longer time, the time is more spread out. If the images in comics did not contain frames they could make things seem timeless. Another thing that does that is the images used they can have a timeless affect. The frames also help show motion or actions of the characters that are present in the comic.

In these chapters three and four we learned about all the timing and transitions that are present in comics to make them become realistic to any person that may be reading them. Without any time limit, comics would not be able to become realistic in ones imagination. They would not know when to stop the mind from adding on to the images that are put forth. Both these chapters have showed me how much work and thought that the writer must put in comics. How they must think things through and decide how to make time period long or short. Timing is something that is very important within the genre of comics. Frames and transitions help with timing.

What happens on and Between the Panels and Frames

The artsy Scott McCloud illustriously explained the importance of gutters in a comic. Firstly the gutter is the space between two panels. this am sure is often overlooked by readers and the importance has never been determined. it is very intriguing how McCloud guides the readers and maneuver there active perception to the finial realization that not very action is illustrated in the strip. However, the human experience allows the reader to imagine what transpired between the two panels. This is referred to as closure. In the later chapter he goes on to explain the comprehension of the time that elapse in each frame. Despite the fact that it takes a few seconds to read, the actions cannot all be completed in a few seconds. he depicts the idea of realism in the readers head and have the associate the same time span that the activity would take in real life situation and apply it to the panel. This the author believes is something that many readers do not pay keen attention to and therefore they do not receive the full effect of the comic.
The authors manipulation of figures and an actual comic to highlight his point and important aspects of the lesson was commendable. He gravitates the attention of non comics lovers and extraordinaire such as myself throughout the duration of the chapters. I believe that this method implemented by McCloud is very creative and is obtaining the goal of educating the general public and wide reader while also showing the true value embedded in a comic strip. This is a value which deviates from the stigma of "bad art", "article for nerds" and "irrelevant in academic or learning community" that is used to brand comics. McCloud has already proven to me that there is more to comics than that which meets the eye. After reading the first four chapters I am eager to read and absorb more of what the author has to say because i believe that my perception of comic is on the verge of a revolution.

The panel Or The Heart?

Chapter 3 and 4 in Scott McCloud’s book gives an in-depth look into the value of what comics do for the reader and their mental processes. Such as his idea of a day dream that the whole world was created for him and if he is not looking at it does it doesn't exist. Same if you are looking at a comic and you only see the top half of the cartoon and but you don’t see their legs you assume they are there even though they’re not. When we are kids the peek-a-boo trick is unknown to us because we are unable to commit to an act of faith. We can’t act on an act of faith because when we are so young because we can’t see it, hear it, smell it, taste it or touch it, we think it isn’t there. The idea of observenig parts of something and picturing the whole of something is the closure. Such as a panel of a guy in different walking positions even though we only see the positions our minds use closure to picture the man fully walking rather than just sections of him walking. This is why comics is closure because our minds have to work together to picture it.

In comics there are six different types of translations from panel to panel to help the act of closure. First being moment-to-moment needing very little help of closure cause it shows reaction right after in each panel. Second being action-to-action showing the first action to second action to tell a story and this is the most commonly used in America. Next is subject-to-subject such as a man about to kill someone then shows the sky with the scream written out. Fourth is scene-to-scene which is a significant distance of time and space such as he could not survive the crash then meanwhile in another place. Next as aspect-to-aspect such as you think of Christmas atomically thinks of Santa Clause. Last being non-sequential being everything is random but serves a purpose at the end. He shows how cultures differ in the aspects of writing comics such as Japan on a more moment state and use being about getting there. That’s why we all explore the less you put in a panel the more your reader can use their imagination.

A single panel can represent more than one moment in time such as a scene taking in order through that one panel cause time in a comic moves left to right. One thing that helps with the value of time going across a comic is the size of the panel can make time go longer or shorter. Or for another instance more space between the two panels can cause a greater pause. But if there is no boarder on the panel or runs of the page it goes into a timeless fashion depending on your on state of mind. Such as when your eye is on a panel it always remembers the past and sees the future because the eye is always changing direction. Most try to influence motion in the comic by the lines to represent motion or move it from panel to panel. But such as the single panel you can show motion from panel to panel on a single background.

Over these two chapters we have learned the use of motion in panels and the time that it takes to go over the panels. I believe that the use of the panels is the most important part about a comic because it is the one thing in a comic that controls everything. So in both of this chapters over all the examples it always leads back to the panels they are the wholly grail of comics.

In chapter three of Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud teaches us how important closure and craft is in comics. From my understanding, closure is how our mind perceives or interprets images. The craft consists of six transitions; moment-to-moment, action-to-action, subject-to-subject, scene-to-scene, aspect-to-aspect, and non-sequitar. These are basically transitions techniques artists use to portray the movements in images and how they tell the story. Chapter three also discusses how the readers imagination fills in the rest of the story between panels. Overall chapter three was interesting and also confusing. After reading it over a few times, I have a better understanding of it than in the begining.

Chapter four is all about time. In a comic strip time may appear short, but the action and reactions involved could be much longer. Using small or big panels in width helps time appear short or long. Also, with the help of motion lines time can be portrayed as short or long. The artist can use different techniques , but its up to the readers imagination to trully determine how we perceive time in an image. Chapter four was more interesting and less confusing than chapter three. I enjoyed reading it and understood more information.

Chapter 3&4 Summary

The comic "Understanding Comics" by Scott McCloud is an informative comic which has replaced textbooks in some English classes throughout America. The comic "Understanding Comics" is a very informative book that educates without the reader even realizing it. The now known "textbook" is full of sequential pictures with informative word bubbles. At first glance the comic does not seem very educating because of all the pictures but the combination of the sequential pictures and the words is very clarifying for the reader. The comic is also more enjoyable to read rather than the traditional textbook because it seems as though you're reading at a faster pace.

The third chapter of "Understanding Comics" is called "Blood in the Gutter". This chapter explains what closure is and why it is important in comic books. McCloud explains closure to be a "phenomenon of observing the parts but perceiving the whole". This meaning that we only see a part of a picture but our common sense helps us to perceive the whole picture. He explains closure to be simple and complex because of the different types of showing the pictures. The pictures in the panel can be ranging form moment to moment to "non-squinter".

The fourth chapter of "Understanding Comics" is called "Time Frames". This chapter explains the importance of time and space in comic books. Each panel in a comic book is arranged so the reader can follow along and understand the concept being told. The space between the panels is called a gutter which helps the reader see time. The shape of a panel can also help the reader see time. For example, if the panel is long that can mean the duration of time from one panel to another is long. Also, the pictures in the comic can show time as well. For example, if the picture has "zip-ribbons" in it, this is showing movement in time. The "zip-ribbons" demonstrate that the action are being made is fast.

I think that Scott McCloud did an excellent job of explaining closure and time frames in chapter three and four. I believe that he would have not been able to explain the two topics without using a comic book. The comic book format definitely helped Scott McCloud achieve his purpose of informing his audience about the topics. He was able to illustrate his words though using word bubbles and pictures in the panels and examples which think was very effective.

A Quick Note on Bad Weather

Have you seen this?!

So it looks like we very well may not have class on Tuesday. But this is not permission to skip should classes not be canceled. This is just a little reminder of that "Snow Day" policy we discussed last week. Should class be canceled on Tuesday (or any day) due to weather, you are still expected to post your responses onto our blog on time; after all, there's no reason for them to be late since they're due the day before class. You are also expected to keep up with the readings and assignments detailed in the syllabus.

So no slacking off!

What this means is that I still expect you to have read and posted your responses to Chapters 3 and 4 of Understanding Comics by Monday night. It also means, that I expect you to read the Intro., Chapter 3, and the "Entering Class Discussions" chapter in They Say / I Say for Thursday, along with bringing a copy of your Rhetorical Analysis.

Questions? Quibbles? Controversies?

UPDATE: In case you were wondering what this means, the campus will not open until 10am (instead of 8am, hence a 2-hour delay). So any class that begins before that (this means our class) is canceled...At least, that's what I think it means...Either way, see you all Thursday!