Week 5 Blog Post: Understanding Comics

Hello class,

Never did I imagine that there was so much creative ingenuity and artistic expression composed in comics. Nor did I think to incorporate those elements into other forms of literature. However, after reading Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, I believe I’ll be equipped with some useful tools that’ll help tailor my stories in unique ways.

“…I’m using the world ‘icon’ to represent a person, place, thing or idea” (Comics, pg. 27).

One of the biggest takeaways I gathered from this book was McCloud’s definition of “icon”. This one word defines an endless amount of content that creators and authors convey their messages through. These icons can be manipulated to the creators will in a way that could either directly show their meaning, such as a picture with a thought bubble, or an abstract image that must sit in the readers mind for a moment before the meaning becomes clear. In my own work, I can use McCloud’s idea of the Pictorial Vocabulary in my designs to determine the style of my digital storytelling.

“The phenomenon of observing the parts but perceiving the whole has a name. It’s called closure.” (Comics, pg. 63)

I found this piece of information regarding closure very interesting as McCloud explains how we experience closure through so many forms of media. The concept that our mind takes two or more separate images and connects them based upon their context. Furthermore, McCloud takes closure and explains 6 different types of transitions that allow for closure to flourish. He explains the differences between eastern and western comic culture and their usage of specific transition types. With this information, I can utilize one or more of these transitions in my own work to create an opportunity for the reader to create closure. Especially based on what type of story I want to tell, these transition types could be further simplified, especially for our upcoming slides story, to depict mere shapes and words.

“The durations of that time and the dimensions of that space are defined more by the contents of the panel than by the panel itself.” (Comics, pg. 99).

McCloud follows up his work on closure and gutters with a deep dive in time perception in comics. The perfect example appeared on page 95 of the book where McCloud takes a long, still frame and breaks it up into sections to depict time passing. Yet, the image itself was one whole, how could time be passing through a single image? McCloud explains how other aspects of the story aid in the readers mind to perceive time, such as the use of sounds and the order of words being spoken by the characters. Something that I noted, it’s as if McCloud is providing a correlation between the reader’s time spent on the specific frame with the time allegedly passing in that specific frame. That might be putting too many words on a simple thought, but I did my best to create my own understandings of McCloud’s work so that I may utilize his thoughts in my work more efficiently. Regardless, this section of the book gave me ideas on how I can use imagery to depict time, such as specific spacing, blank space, and words.

I love this book so far, I’m eager to read and discuss the thoughts you’ve all come up with.



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