09 February 2012

Words & Pictures: Two sides of a Coin

Chapter Six of Understanding comics lays a great importance on the close bond shared by words and pictures and, how we as children perceived pictures and words as a combination as a way to express ourselves, however we out grew them. McCloud restates and emphasizes on words and pictures just like in Chapter Two. He looks at the two as being two sides of the same coin.

This chapter not only works towards his definition of comics but also towards broadening the mindset of people. People who believe that art and literature can be portrayed only if the two are kept separate. A great way to explain the combined outcome of the two is the main reason for the success of Commercials, as they approach their mass media through words and pictures. As children we learnt to read by the help of pictures, learn to show and tell- but gradually we start reading books without any pictures at all. A related path can be drawn amongst many ancient forms of art, where people were shown as icons, drawings where more like letters where the images were flat and bright. Even then, the letters were more or less like pictures. Words and images were side by side, just like the lower-left vertex of McCloud's great pyramid. But, over the course of the next thousands of years, they diverged. Letters surrendered to visual representation and pictures grew richer and more complex to such an extent that looking at them was more like looking at reality than at thoughts.

Words and pictures compliment each other. Comparing the two- like partners in a dance is an excellent illustration as they support each other’s strengths. The chapter’s title can also be read both ways as they function just like how words and pictures work- show and tell, tell and show.


  1. Interesting blog tsering, I like how you use art and literature as something kept a part to create an amazing comic, or i guess thats how I saw it. But very interesting :)

  2. Not a bad post, Tsering--I agree with Vonna's points.

    But your summary's a little short. Tacle some of those complex ideas McCloud makes, and your response would be more powerful.