Response to Understanding Comics

Scott McCloud provides a fun expository and descriptive explanation about comics, since he essentially uses a comic format to simply expand our limited knowledge about the same (very interesting!). Before reading Understanding Comics, I thought that comics were simply frame by frame pictures that tells a story that is particularly fictional and sometimes childish. The pictures are expected to be cartoony, and the sequences of these pictures “move” through our imagination. I have read a few comic books during my childhood, but I have never permeated deeper into the historical and artistic factors that constitute modern comics. After reading McCloud’s comic book about comics, I learned that comics are not simple to make, because they require ample of human intuition and few standards to make them worthwhile to read.

What I find interesting is the historical and categorical applications that McCloud use to define comics. I never knew that ancient Mayan and Egyptians hieroglyphs and some carvings could be categorized as comics; his explanation about these ancient artifacts unveils that comics spanned thousands of years ago rather than few decades. His interpretation of one of the ancient Egyptian pictorial sequences — depicting the labor laws of ancient Egypt — is one of these examples. McCloud also categorized comics into a triangular taxonomy of comic styles (realistic, figural, and fictional), which I found most interesting. His taxonomy of comics probably fill the entire world of created comics until the present.

McCloud also implicitly provides another form of teaching. Rather than using a long prose to explain his ideas, he uses sequential imaging to do the same. However, the effects to the reader are widely different. If he would have written his ideas in prose, then we might get easily bored simply because imagining words into pictures takes a toll in our brains. Through the usage of comics format, we are free of this labor, and we can easily enjoy the “reading” while effectively learning from his creation.

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