08 February 2012

Oh Pictures... Where Art Thou?

Scott McCloud shows us a deep connection between pictures and words and how they can work together to create a better form of communication.  He shows us how tragic it is that society views a piece of literature containing pictures as elementary or being for kids, while written literature without pictures is viewed as being more sophisticated and that adults should be drawn more toward this type of literature.  Scott McCloud helps us to realize sadly that the vast world of comics has been judged by the rules or attitudes of the generations before us, where a detailed work of art without any words was worthy of one’s attention, and good literary work consists  of complex words and text that arouses curiosity but contains no pictures.  Scott McCloud delves into past history to show us the interaction that words and pictures share.  He shows us how in the ancient world there were pictures that acted much as words do today to tell a story.  These pictures eventually evolved into the words and letters we have today through centuries of abstraction.  Scott McCloud also refers back to his triangular table from chapter two revealing to us how pictures and words were once used side by side with each other, but how over time, they slowly drifted apart.  A time would come when pictures and words would have to move toward each other once again.   These two great tools of communication, pictures and words, would one day collide, and then the greatness and potential of comics would be truly realized.  Scott McCloud continues by uncovering several different ways words and pictures work together in comics.  Word Specific, Picture Specific, Duo-Specific, Additive, Parallel, Montage, and Inter-Dependent are the tools the comic creator utilizes to combine words with images.  The most commonly used is Inter-Dependent, where the words and the pictures both need each other to get the point or meaning across to the reader, the words and pictures share a symbiotic relationship so to speak.

 The way past and present society has viewed literature containing pictures as being just for children is dismal.  In history, people have gone from pictures, to words with pictures, to only words, and then have gone back to slowly accepting a combination of words and pictures again thereby creating an ironclad way of writing in which the meaning will appeal to today’s society.  How many books have we read that we thought would have been more exciting if only they had pictures?  How many textbooks have we studied that would have explained the point better if they had contained pictures?  I agree with Scott McCloud that we need to keep changing the way in which we communicate as society evolves or people will stop reading and learning all together.  Today is not yesterday, but maybe one day our writing will go back to looking like this…it’s my name “Michael” in hieroglyphics!


  1. Michael,
    This is a great summary of ch. 6. It includes all the main points McCoud wrote about. I particularly liked how you translated your name. It is weird to think that if we lived in the past written language would just be a bunch of pictures.

  2. It is interesting to think about what life would be like if we went back to pictures for words. It would be fun though and maybe it would be a little easier to understand. To me a picture is worth a thousand words therefore it would be easy to understand a meaning by looking at a picture but then again what if the author intends to say something but the viewer percieves it to be something else. Again, interesting to think about.

  3. Nice post, Mike--I also like the hieroglyphics. Nice touch :-)

    You're summary's very thorough...maybe too thorough though. Still, nice work!