27 February 2012

Scott McCloud: Dictator of the Comic Ghetto

Dylan Horrocks writes an eye opening rhetorical analysis on Scott McCloud's book Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. Horrocks argues that this brilliant piece of work is merely to achieve McCloud's "mission". That McCloud had a different agenda of expanding the comic industry not forward, but outward. And finally that McCloud became the dictator of his own comic universe.
Horrocks explains how he believes that readers and believers of McCloud are naive, because they are believing McCloud's argument rationally, and not rhetorically. In Understanding Comics, McCloud could easily convince his readers because he used real life concepts like closure. But Horrocks' point is that the readers were more concerned about closure than they were about McCloud's mission.
According to Horrocks, when McCloud defined comics, he wanted people to see them how he saw them and how he thought they should be. But by saying that McCloud also impies what comics should not be, and what McCloud thinks we should value less about them. McCloud hopes to change the stereotypes and to do so he must manipulate the readers minds and erase the history of comics. So while McCloud finds content to be not important, Horrocks finds it to be a big deal.
Horrocks interprets this as a comic can totally suck ass, but readers will appreciate it because of the work the artist put in to it. By manipulating the definition McCloud gets what he wants and what he likes. Closure, according to Horrocks is the "invisible art" and what McCloud values most about comics. By fancying up his definition, McCloud turns readers into believers.
The next main point that Horrocks make is how McCloud is building a nation of comics. While comics are becoming less of a mass medium, they are becoming more of a community. But even as a community they're still the ghettos of the Art Nation. Horrocks gives many examples of McCloud saying this himself. McCloud's definition opens the boundaries of the comic "ghetto" and allows comics to expand commercially. Horrocks argues that McCloud doesn't care if the content gets better (moves forward), as long as the comic industry expands outward.
Horrocks also believes that McCloud uses his definition metaphorically, and by doing this he changes the way people read and create comics. According to Horrocks people will read what they want to read, if it's a comic they'll read a comic, if it's a novel, they'll read a novel. People will inevitably read what they want to and the genre and content matter will be important to them.

McCloud and Horrocks both make valid arguments. Comics are under appreciated, but reading in general isn't appreciated. People pay more attention to content, than they do to the work it took to create it. However, how McCloud goes about achieving his purpose seems irreverent. Comics themselves are the lost art, and it's going to take a lot of work for McCloud to achieve his purpose. However as the Internet becomes more and more of our source of entertainment, comics can advance in popularity. The question is though, are comics moving forward, in terms of becoming more sophisticated, as McCloud thinks they can? Or are they expanding outward in popularity, and declining in terms of content as Horrocks believes?

1 comment:

  1. Hmm...interesting questions to consider. Nice post.