29 January 2012
Chapter Three: Don’t read under the influence.
In chapter three of Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics the basic idea of closure, both in comics and in everyday life, is explained. The basic idea that McCloud is trying to portray is that a person’s mind is capable of, and more importantly incapable of not taking individual parts of anything and making them into a complete picture or story. If not for this ability comics would not be the success that they are today, and most likely wouldn’t even be readable. Closure is the reader’s ability to take the event in one picture and relate it to the next as a sequence of events. Closure can also be the ability to look at a picture and relate it to what the picture was taken of, or looking at something and relating it to something that it obviously is not, such as the smiley face symbol which is merely two dots, a circle and a line, and perceiving it to be a human face. This may be the most important element of comics, for the reason that, without closure it would be impossible to determine panel-to-panel action, and it would also be impossible to determine what the frames contain other then lines, colors, and dots. McCloud informs us of six types of closure, moment-to-moment, action-to-action, subject-to-subject, scene-to-scene, aspect-to-aspect, and non-sequitur. In the western world the most popular types of closure, in comics, are two through four. According to McCloud, comics from the east, particularly Japanese comics, tend to use five of the elements of closure, as opposed to comics from the west where only three of the elements are generally used. The sixth element listed, non-sequitur, isn’t mentioned by McCloud as being used by anyone as a main element. Closure opens up the horizons of comics by letting the reader control, with their imagination, how things are happening in and between the panels.
This chapter was the first chapter in which I feel like Scott McCloud succeeded at taking me to a level where I am beginning to truly understand comics. After reading this chapter I feel like reading comics might actually be an interesting way to spend my time. I’ll have to test that theory soon.