26 January 2012

Simulated Experiences

In chapter two of Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, McCloud delves into the world of icons and our ability as readers to perceive even the simplest ones. He begins with the very famous "Treachery of Images" by Magritte Called that everyone who has taken intro to art or philosophy 101 knows the confusing circle of the painting's message.  Like the painting, McCloud begins by explaining that what is on the page is not the actual object that we see. He uses the example of the classic two circles and two lines “face” that every person can recognize as a face immediately, he suggests that this is possible because humans are such a self-centered creature that sees itself in everything.  He then proposes that this is why the majority of cartoons are drawn so simplistically, so we can see ourselves in the character’s place. This is very important to stories because an audience’s involvement is produced by how much they can identify with the characters. McCloud explains that comics are a media that can mix 3 factors that make up the “pictorial vocabulary,” these things are language, reality, and the picture plane. Comic book artists can mix these things however they like to tell their stories in a matter they see fit, whether it is by simple drawings with complex dialogue or extremely intricate art with minimal vocabulary. He concludes that it’s up to the author to create the stories and images but it’s up to us as readers to give the characters life.

The entire concept of what we perceive as objects or reality all goes back to the Allegory of the Cave and Plato’s Theory of Forms.

Ghost in the Shell is full of philosophical questions of being and possessing life.  


  1. Ghost In The Shell, is very interesting. The way there is minimal movement in all the scenes brings about closure the same way a comic does. Just imagine taking each scene pasting it side by side and adding the words, bang!! You got a comic. Very interesting Indeed.

    1. Actually, the Ghost in the Shell series began as a comic, so you're not far off, Mike :-)

  2. Doug, did you just link to Wikipedia on my blog?! Blasphemy!

    Though I appreciate the point you're trying to make with all your links. You're making excellent connections between McCloud and Plato; they're certainly related.

  3. I really like your summary. McCloud covered a lot of information in Ch. 2, but you got to the main point which is authors create, but they need an audience to make the comics relevant. The links were ingenious too. I never would have thought of Plato and his Theory of Form and the connection he has to McCloud.