28 February 2012

Credibility or Falsity?

Dylan Horrocks has analyzed Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and summarized it under the title of Inventing Comics: Scott McCloud’s Definition of Comics. He has given the book justice by covering all the main points and has thoroughly analyzed McClouds work. Properly cited and very accurate with all the crucial points, Horrocks chronologically records McClouds work.

Horrocks begins by talking about the main objective of McCloud writing a comic book based on comics, which leads us to the flashback of Chapter 1 in Understanding Comics where McCloud is a kid who like everyone has a narrow definition of Comic books. Horrocks points out that McCloud had also started off as one of those who had narrowed his perspective of comics and so; he wants to transform the rest just like he had been stereotyping. According to Horrocks, McCloud innovatively replenishes Eisner’s art of comics as sequential art and uses it to define Comics. And, to increase his credibility he visually manipulates his readers by framing the definition in a dictionary context. Horrocks examines the issue of form and issue, which lead to his argument that comics are narrowly seen because of the words that define it. Subsequently, he harps on sequential art being a key to the comic world is given a lot of attention and so is ‘closure’. Yet again McCloud creatively connects a metaphor of the comic community with that of a tribe and Horrocks further adds to the metaphor. He says that the comic community is just like a tribe that is diminishing in number but still share the same culture now living their own lives without caring much for the rest.

According to Horrocks, McCloud tried creating a frame around comics by his manifesto, but he further expands his horizons of comic books by elaborating on his definition. Talking about definition, Horrocks detects an error with the text from McCloud’s book. McCloud frees comics from any restrictions towards the end of Chapter 1 whereas he had previously confined them within maps and definitions. Another point that goes unnoticed is when McCloud empties the jug of it’s vile contents (genres, styles, subject matter, themes, etc.) and then again he goes back to the arena of history. The use of form as a vessel metaphor is a good way to represent the cultural idiom as a collection of cultural conventions, styles and publishing formats. Nevertheless, the unique qualities and abilities are avoided by the limitations.

However, McCloud’s definition has sent out many invitations to future cartoonists and is showing them that they have a potential of thinking out of the box by creating much more than the usual’s. An example to why we have as stagnant outlook on comics is because we criticize a comic for ‘describing’ key dramatic event with words rather than showing them pictures which implies that pictures dominates words in comics; narrative should be pictorial, not textual.

This summary was a great way of looking at Understanding Comics, as we’ve all learned an awful number of things from this book. In spite of the book just showing us one angle of viewing comic books, it was a very good source of knowledge about comics. The book brought us into the world of comics and then taught us many things unconsciously. Nonetheless, Horrocks has done a great job in analyzing the book primarily as a work of polemic. But as every body refers to their own maps, the book could just be McCloud’s own map, which he would want the cartoonists, publishers and readers to follow.

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