28 February 2012

Horrocksmust Have Read This Book One-Thousand Times

Dylan Horrocks is the writer of a very deep and intimate analysis of Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. His analysis, entitled Inventing Comics: Scott McCloud’s Definition of Comics is written with the purpose of exploring the rhetoric of Understanding Comics and what McCloud does to persuadehis audience. The first thing that Horrocks does in opening up his analysis is to make it clear that Understanding Comics is a polemic work, which essentially means that the book is not made up of facts, opinions and theories rather, and all opinions and theories can be controversial. Horrocks also points out that Understanding Comics is arguably the most important comic book that is written in the English language. The main purpose of McCloud’s book was to open the debate on what comics are, but Horrocks says that this purpose was not fulfilled,for the reason that, the majority of McCloud’s readers read his book and accepted it's content for fact, thus having the opposite effect intended and closing debate before it was started. One thing that Horrocks says McCloud does is shatter stereotypes, therefore erasing all of the negative history and connotations that might be associated with comics. Another thing that Horrocks mentions in relation to erasing negative history and connotations of comics is that McCloud’s definition of comics is based upon the form of comics, rather than the content, which gives comics a fresh new start in the readers mind. According to Horrocks, McCloud doesn’t justify why his starting point for his definition of comics is a good one, and is not specific enough. MccCloud’s argument is based on McCloud’s visions, and how he wants things to be. McCloud’s definition is flawed in the way that if he discards art that doesn’t completely fit his definition as not comics. Horrocks continues to find flaws in McCloud’s definition of comics, therefore proposing that the logic behind the entire book is flawed. One flaw that he points out is that McCloud leaves children's books out of the medium, even though they obviously fit into the definition. Horrocks also mentions how McCloud uses diagrams and charts to get his point across. Another major position that Horrocks addresses is that McCloud’s mission is not to eliminate the borders that people have already set for comics, but rather expand on the borders that have been set.

McCloud’s definition of comics is a very good definition in my opinion, and although it has flaws, it doesn’t seem to me that it is possible to repair them. I do agree with all of the positions that Horrocks has taken, although I hated reading them because it took so long. I do admit that Horrocks analyzing of Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics made a very significant impact on how I look at the book. When I first read the book I looked at it as a work of genius, whereas I now look at it as a very good book written very sloppily. After reading Horrocks’ work it surprises me that this book didn’t generate more debate, especially with all of the polemic material that it contains (learned the word polemic from this article!). Its insane to me that I must have read this whole book with only half a mind because i didn't notice any of these things, Horrocks must have read this book one-thousand times.


  1. Lucas, do you really believe that Understanding Comics was written sloppily after reading Dylan's Analysis? And I definitely learned the word polemic from this assignment as well :-).

  2. Remember, what Scott McCloud's last words were at the end of the bibliography of his book? What he was saying was, he has had his say about comics, so now its our turn. He is encouraging a debate, he came up with a definition, and yes there are some flaws, but that's why its up to people like us and Dylan Horrocks to question the definition, and keep on moving it forward. All this revision and debating is what will help the world to see the vast potential the comic holds.

  3. Good points!

    And Horrocks definitely had to reread McCloud's work several times before writing this...just like you'll have to do with whatever texts you use to write your research paper :-)