25 January 2012

The Vocabulary of Comics

As everyone knows comics are best known for their creative art and engaging text writing but as many don’t know, there is more to it than meets the eye. Scott McCloud wrote a brief chapter about the significance of vocabulary in comics. McCloud tries to explain that in his perspective, vocabulary of comics is an “icon” that represents a person, place, thing or idea. He gives a small example by using a picture of a pipe but says it’s not a pipe, more like a painting of a pipe but it’s not a painting, rather, it’s a drawing of a painting of a pipe but it really is a printed copy of a drawing of a painting of a pipe. (I know it’s a confusing concept to grasp). He notes that any picture in the world of comics is not quite what it may seem but rather it is an iconic category and its concept is to express idea and philosophies. There may be pictures more iconic than others but there are also some that are non-pictorial icons and also others that are more abstract than some. As McCloud finds ways to abstract and simplify images, he comes to the counter point in many comic arts, “cartoon”. When abstracting an image through cartooning, it’s not so much eliminating details as focusing on specific details but stripping down an image, the artist can amplify its meaning in a way that realistic art can’t. If you may draw an art picture in detail, would the audience observing or reading the text ever pay attention to it? Well, probably not because more people would respond more to a cartoon figure. It’s just the way people were brought up in the 20th century today and that’s one of the issues in vocabulary sense that McCloud tries to explain.
                McCloud expresses non-visual self-awareness, when saying people whom experience things in life can have two separate realms, meaning the realm of concept and senses. Non-visual self-awareness can be the identities and awareness by using inanimate objects, and people use this concept in everyday life. In any case of vocabulary, Icons is a big participation in a work of art and the same goes for comics. McCloud makes some really good views about the Iconic role of comics and when he explains some strong values about art and the concept of each type of genre art, like cartoons, pictures or paintings, he gives his input of how valuable it is towards comics. Some of his work and research may strike me as unusual but he puts his observations in proper perspectives that could or may relate to the world of comics and in everyday life. Comics do have a wide range of definitions and just by my own observation of his information on sequence imaging, ”icon” is another good perspective I see as understanding comic; as it will help me understand the unraveling mystery of comics. 


  1. is it only words in comics that represent icons? what about words in novels? like, if there's one picture in a novel, would that make the words icons? O_O

    1. Excellent question?! Ask it again in class, so we can tackle it together :-)

  2. Lavonna!
    Your summary is written very well. :)
    As, you've briefed us about everything McCloud's mentioned in Chapter two.
    What i like most about your post is that you've closely studied his views and mentioned about the "ICON" that is one of the most important features of this chapter.

  3. Vonna, your post is a little heavy on summary and light on opinion, but you're working through some complicated ideas (especially in your 2nd paragraph), so that's okay. Just be sure you note your conclusions when you reach them :-)