McCloud Understanding Comics Notes

Chapter 1 – Comics

  • What is a comic? It might be defined as juxtaposed sequential visual art, or in short a bunch of stills forming a story. Similar to an animation, ish?
  • Comics are not based on style
  • Comics have been used for a long period of time, going back to ancient times

Chapter 2 – Icons

  • Icons don’t have to be realistic to represent a human
  • Cartoons are the most basic form of human icons
  • Icons can be abstract
  • Humans visualize ourselves inanimate objects, we are very self centered

Chapter 3 – Blood In The Gutter

  • Closure is important in general, without it would be difficult to understand how normal everyday things work
  • Closure can come in simple and complex forms, this includes everyday objects
  • The reader is also an important part of closure, if a scene occurs where people leave the panel. It is up to the reader to bring closure
  • Aspect-to-aspect is able to bypass time and the readers attention

Chapter 4 – The Frames

  • Using borders helps with allowing the reader to anticipate what might happen in the next panel
  • A panel acts as a general indicator
  • Time and space are one and the same

Chapter 5 – Living In The Line

  • Emotions can be shown through visuals like shapes
  • Dash marks behind people show that they are moving fast, similar to the Flash certain lines in specific places can show emotion
  • Symbols can also be used to show emotions, like swirls on a characters eyes shows disorentation
  • Words can be used as visual symbols, depending on the font and how the letters are created

Chapter 6 – Show and Tell

  • Pictures and words cannot give their full understandings by themselves, unless they are both cooperating together
  • Languages around the world used pictures as words at first, but then went to a more characterized approach. Some of the languages today still have some pictures from their past used in their language today
  • Impressionism made western art lean toward a more abstract approach
  •  There is also many types of panels that help viewers understand some specifics: Word Specific, Picture Specific, Duo-SpecificAdditive, Parallel, Montage, and Interdependent
  • Their need to be a balance in words and pictures from time to time


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