28 February 2012

Is McCloud's Definition His Own?

In Inventing Comics: Scott McCloud’s Definition of Comics, by Dylan Horrocks, he questions McCloud’s definition of comics. He starts off by saying that McCloud’s Understanding Comics “Is a powerful piece of polemic”. That Scott’s book is “arguably the most important book of comics theory published in English so far”. Later on Dylan goes to say that McCloud's definition of comics wasn’t entirely his own definition. He goes to show us this by comparing Eisner’s definition with McCloud’s.

There are many definitions of “comics”. Will Eisner defined comics as “sequential art”. Scott McCloud, using Eisner’s definition as a starting point, defines comics as “juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer”. Dylan Horrocks in his article Inventing Comics, noticing how “hostile most cartoonists are to suggestions that comics are illustrated texts”, criticized McCloud’s definition for his deemphasizing of some elements on a continuum from world only texts to picture only texts, such as “cultural idiom”, a “publishing genre”, a “set of narrative conventions”, a “kind of writing that uses words and pictures”, a “literary genre” and as simply “texts”. He asks where on that spectrum we should draw the border between comics and illustrated texts. Dylan Harrocks challenges McCloud’s definition, confronting him to consider other texts such as children’s books. And this is where Harrocks starts to point out that Scott’s definition was contradicting itself.

McCloud was trying to get people, in general, to understand the whole concept of what comics truly were. He wanted to kill this stereotype people have towards comics. “Sure, I realized that comic books were usually crude, poorly-drawn, semiliterate, cheap, disposable kiddie fare”, explains McCloud. But he later tries to show us that the real problem was that people think that’s all they truly are.

Inventing Comics by Dylan Horrocks shows us that while comics are their own community in literary writing there are still many different theories by different writers that have been brought to people’s attention. Now to which of all these theories people choose to abide by it’s up to them to decide.

1 comment:

  1. Your summary's really all over the place; you jump around Horrocks' points without explaining them in context. So someone who hasn't read Horrocks won't understand your summary, and that's kind of one of the points of a summary :-/