28 February 2012

Comics shouldn't be this complicated

To begin Inventing Comics: Scott McCloud’s Definition of Comics, Dylan Horrock’s comments on how gifted Scott McCloud is and the resounding effect Understanding Comics had on the “cultural ghetto”.  Horrock then continues on and summarizes the first chapter and delves into McCloud’s definition of comics. Horrock explains that McCloud defines the “form” of comics, and that form is “sequential art”. Horrock describes McCloud’s definition as being “pretty clever” meaning that McCloud’s rhetoric is convincing the reader of how McCloud wants it, not necessarily how it actually is. Horrock also relies on many of the charts and diagrams that McCloud included to show just how metaphorical McCloud was with his writing. McCloud’s overall goal was to prove how universal comics could be as a medium, and Horrock credits McCloud’s definition with the ability to free cartoonists from their same old path. However Horrock argues that definitions prevent experimentation with the medium because that would “dirty it, lessening its purity”. Horrock also discusses how “form of genre” limits comics. Once a writer is constrained to one genre, they are then trapped by the defined genre’s borders. Another border that McCloud’s definition creates is one between comics and graphic novels in which the words carry the story, not the pictures as a comic does. By the end Horrock again praises McCloud for his genius Understanding Comics and how it inspired Horrock explore that power of comics. Horrock unlike most people, did as McCloud asked them, he did not just accept Understanding Comics as the end, but a beginning for comic exploration. Horrock obviously is in accordance with McCloud and his theory, but it is clear there are areas where Horrock considers McCloud’s argument weak. One being children’s books and how closely related they are to comics based on McCloud’s definition. I think Horrock did a nice job of remaining objective with his article since he is such a fan of the comic, but overall I think the points Horrock made proved that McCloud’s definition is lacking and comics are still awaiting there moment to raise from the ashes.


  1. I think you accurately portrayed how Horrack feels about McClouds book, I agree with what you had to say. I also think that Horrack made it clear that McCloud could still improve on the definition. Overall, good job!

  2. I agree that Horrocks did an excellent job of actually analyzing McCloud’s work without accepting it as absolute truth. Although he is a fan, he did not allow this to cloud his judgment. Great post!

  3. Good points, dlujan.

    Your summary feels really rushed, Claire. Spend some more time with some of Horrocks more important points, and remember to keep your summary and opinions separate.