23 January 2012

Review of Chapter One in Scott Mcloud's Understanding Comics Textbook

At first glance, this book may seem like just another graphic novel of some dorky college student's exploits to analyze comic books, but once you flip to the introduction or even the table of contents you will see that Mr. Mcloud has gone above and beyond. This book completely defines, analyzes, and graciously accepts there argumentative points and I know this just by reading the first chapter. Starting with the introduction, Scott Mcloud (well, his fictionalized cartoon image of himself) is having a conversation with his friend about what he plans to elaborate on what comics are what what they can do and do do (yes, I said do do). His friend assures him that this challenge is fit for someone with more experience, but Mcloud has a higher consciousness about sequential art.

Speaking of sequential art, Mclouds whole first chapter is narrowing and perfecting the definition for comics. He is very opposed to the original name given to this widespread medium because it infers that ALL art that shows progression of time with more than one panel is FUNNY and quite possibly childish.

SO, instead of calling this form of visual and text assisted medium "Comics" or "Comic Art", he would rather address it as "Sequential Art". But Scott proceeds to further define the definition after being heckled from an illustrated audience. The development of definitions extends from:
Sequential Art to
Sequential Visual Art to
Juxtaposed Sequential Visual Art to
Juxtaposed Sequential Static Images to
Juxtaposed Static Images in deliberate Sequence to
Juxtaposed Pictorial & other images in deliberate sequence
After all of this specification, Mcloud proceeds to show the reader the deep-rotted origins of sequential art throughout history. Technically, Pre-Colombian Manuscripts (Mayan Picture drawings or sculptures), The Bayeux Tapestry, and Egyptian Scribes are all examples of a style of story telling through visual static images. After reading his thorough definition for this specific type of storytelling, I did not dispute the fact that all of these examples could be construed and even presented (in my own personal opinion) as early sequential art.
Mcloud uses a few more examples to support his claim, but my favorite was his look at a collage novel from a man named Max Ernst. The novel was entitled "A Week of Kindness" and was widely considered to be a 20th century artistic masterpiece.Scott brings up the question of why this collage was not considered panel art, even though it is. The answer to that question is the era and ideology of the time.
Max Ernst

Anyway, Scott then presents very recent examples of sequential art like instructional diagrams, stained glass windows, and even series of photos can be considered "Sequential Art". I think what Mcloud is trying to do here is give us an overall mindset that "Comics" shouldn't be thought of restrictively, put down, or underestimated, but taken seriously, praised, and further observed. All I know is that I'm digging this book and the next time I look at the visual instructions for a hand dryer I'll think "Scott, you rule". That or "Push button, receive bacon"

1 comment:

  1. or, 1 insert finger in anus 2 stinky finger 3 vomit in receptacle