Making Comics, Scott McCloud

Again with the piles of information!  I had to read this one chapter at a time and then take a long break to think about all the things contained in each chapter.  In Making Comics, Scott McCloud gets down to discussing the specifics about creating a comic book – everything from the placement and spacing in word bubbles, to the construction of panels in a way that’s intuitive to the reader, to the interaction of words and pictures.  There can never be too much discussion about the interaction of words and pictures.  Seriously.

This book made me sad I can’t draw.  Although there were bits about telling stories, I felt like the book was more geared towards artists, than writers.  It may have felt this way because, while I can write, I can’t one bit draw, so my perception could be skewed on account of how sad I felt during all the drawing bits.  Compared with how fun the words-and-pictures bits were!  All nicely broken down into categories and everything!

Scott McCloud’s books about comics are altogether wonderful.  He’s good at explaining complicated concepts in ways that are easily comprehensible, and referring back to them frequently enough to keep them in the reader’s head.  He uses examples from a broad range of comics, and his love for comics shines through in every panel.  Also he is funny and self-deprecating and clever.  Hooray for Scott McCloud!

Reinventing Comics, Scott McCloud

So Shan said that she found it difficult to read Understanding Comics because it was lots of information coming at her all it once – and I thought that was ratcheted up a few notches in Reinventing Comics.  It was still full of interesting things to consider.  Scott McCloud talks about the directions comics are taking, the revolutions that have to take place for comics to Take Their Rightful Place, including limited representation by anyone who isn’t white and male.  He handles these delicate subjects quite well, without being a jerk at all or failing to recognize his position of privilege.

However, when I got past to the bits about computers and things, that was too much information coming at me all at once.  I mean, I was reading it in a blackout (I love Louisiana and I love Louisiana storms, but power outages are no fun at all in the middle of summer), and feeling guilty for not cuddling the dog I’m baby-sitting for, and I was having certain problems about which I am too much of a lady to talk.  I do admit the possibility that there were other problems apart from my brain shutting down when too many computer words fly at my head.

On to Making Comics!  I am very excited about Making Comics!  I think it will be extremely fascinating!

Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud

In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud writes about the structure, creation, history, and vocabulary (among other things!) of comics.  He does it, of course, in graphic novel form, with a little cartoon Scott McCloud telling us what is going on.  I love this because when he talks about a technique that graphic novels use, voila, he can show it to us too!  The book never becomes boring, which is partly down to the fact that it’s an interesting topic, but also partly because the form allows a lot of room for humor.  (I was going to write “and whimsy”, but I hate that damn word.  Though I like Peter Wimsey.)

I loved the section about the different transitions between panels.  Scott McCloud lists six categories of transitions between panels, and then does an analysis of how often different comic artists use each different transition.  He makes bar graphs.  I was so intrigued by the differences between how often American & European artists used each transition type, and how often Japanese artists did.  McCloud shows examples of each transition, and although he gives them a number, he keeps reminding you which type is which (through pictures!).  Fantastic.

My one little gripe was with the section on the (sometimes uneasy) marriage of words and pictures.  I am only griping about it because to me, the combination of words and pictures provides the most amazing and fascinating and incredible possibilities for comics.  (I like words.)  I just looked back at it, and that chapter is just as comprehensive as the transitions chapter; when I was reading it, I felt like there weren’t nearly enough cool examples.  I still feel like that actually, but you may want to consider the possibility that there are plenty of examples and I am just insatiable and can never have enough.

In other news, Scott McCloud referenced a painting of Magritte’s (“This is not a pipe”), which caused me to tell my sister “I really like Magritte,” which caused me to have to get up and bring her a book about Magritte because she couldn’t remember who he was.  And this in turn led us to find this painting, which is rather graphic so you’ve been warned, “The Rape”, which pleased me so much that I traveled back in time and thanked Magritte in pretty and fluent French for his getting a point about what it is like being a woman that people often seem to miss.

(No, you may not borrow my time machine.  I have destroyed it, along with all copies of the plans.  V. dangerous to have such a thing around the house.)

(I just found a woman called Eunice Golden who says she created (warning, this is fairly graphic too) this piece of art “in defiance of censorship (which I consider to be a rape of the mind), and as a response to Magritte’s mutilation of the female body in ‘Le Viol’.”  Am I misunderstanding her completely, or is she misunderstanding Magritte completely?  Or, possibly, am I misunderstanding Magritte?)

I have strayed from the Scott McCloud point.  I liked Understanding Comics!  I have Making Comics out of the library, and I want to get Reinventing Comics as well!  Other views besides mine:

Nymeth at Things Mean a Lot
Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness
Rebecca Reads

Let me know if I missed yours!