Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Graphic Novel of the Month: Understanding Comics

Scott McCloud is a comic book writer & artist who experienced some minor fame & success with runs on various comics & with his own creation ZOT!, in 1993, McCloud decided to break out of fiction & try to theorize the confusing & misunderstood comic book. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art was his graphic novel where he defined the comic & its vocabulary, gave its history & theorized the various elements of the comic & their uses. It was a groundbreaking graphic novel because it was comic theory in comic form. Most comic theory books before this were text-based, but McCloud wanted to emphasize the power of the medium.

This graphic novel does have its controversy, especially when McCloud defines the comic & what he considers art. His definition of art includes "any human activity that doesn't grow out of our species' two basic instincts: survival & reproduction." This definition opens a whole can of worms that many will find engrossing. Still, McCloud realizes that he theories are just that & hopes that this novel will open up a debate.

McCloud makes the novel fun to read & look at. He draws himself & the panels as simple as needed, but shows off his drawing muscle from time-to-time for examples. As much as he tries to make it digestible, there is a lot of theory & thought in every page & is not a read-in-one-setting kind of book. This one requires a couple of reads in order for you to retain a good portion of the details. Still, I highly recommend this book for comic lovers, art lovers, & book lovers (so pretty much everyone), as it will change the way you look at comics forever.

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