As some of you may know, I’ve been trying to cram so that I can speak intelligently to Scott McCloud when he’s here next week.  I just finished his first book, Understanding Comics.  It was amazing.

First of all, let me say that one of the primary reasons I found it compelling was its format.  Unlike many other ‘theory books’ Understanding Comics is more or less a comic book.  Panels and word balloons… the whole shebang.

A lot of people hear me saying things like, “Too many words” and “I can’t read”.  It’s kind of a joke, but it’s kind of not.  The way my brain works, I can only pick up every other paragraph of a paper before my mind starts wandering.  Probably not something to brag about in a blog for a class that requires a 10 page paper at the end.    Anyway, as a comicker (one who makes comics) myself, my brain was better able to soak in the contents of this book, and, unlike most of the papers I’ve read, my mind has been blown.

Even though it seems at first to be a ‘comic about comics’, McCloud really gets to the root of comics on a psychological, subconscious, theory-rich level.

How is this relevant to this class (besides being awesome)?  He’s got a chapter called “The Vocabulary of Comics” which boils down to visual iconography and how we interpret those icons… I’d like to call this semiotics.

He has another chapter called “Blood in the Gutter” which is about how we interpret the space between the panels in a comic based on our own experience.  People will ‘see’ the comics in different ways even though they see the same panels on the page because their own experiences creates the closure between the panels.  Phenomenology?

Anyway, my conclusion is that Scott McCloud is a genius and I’m looking forward to reading his other two books.  I highly suggest reading at least this first one to anyone.

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