Understanding Comics – By Scott McCloud

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Goodreads Synopsis: Praised throughout the cartoon industry by such luminaries as Art Spiegelman, Matt Groening, and Will Eisner, Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics is a seminal examination of comics art: its rich history, surprising technical components, and major cultural significance. Explore the secret world between the panels, through the lines, and within the hidden symbols of a powerful but misunderstood art form.

Find on Goodreads and Amazon.

I feel sort of odd reviewing a book I read for school, especially since it wasn’t really my favorite and my teacher really seemed to like it. Thankfully I’m like 90% sure that my teacher will never find this blog. 😀

But on to my actual review.  I want to start by saying I did learn a lot by reading this graphic novel and that I appreciate that my professor has this book on the syllabus. I learned about the technical details of making a comic, and it’s helped me have a different eye for when I read comics. For instance I’m trying to pay attention to things like line work, something I didn’t really know a lot about before.

At the same time, I disagreed with McCloud on a few things and found him to be an annoying writer.  He’s rambly and arrogant, he took so many pages to discuss things that I thought could have been much shorter.  It felt like he would say the same things over and over again. On average his chapters were 18 pages long, but when it came to talking about color and it’s place in comics he barely said anything. Basically dismissing color, I got the feeling that he thought color took away from comics, which I disagree with vehemently.  Color in comics and graphic novels is what got me to finally explore the genre. Without color in comics I doubt I would have read any at all, or even taken this class I’m in.

McCloud gives a basic overview of comics, their history and how they are created. But I don’t feel like I understand comics anymore than I did before I read the book.  I feel like he should have had a different title, because the novel is really more about appreciating comics as a genre, rather than understanding them. But maybe that’s just me.

In the end I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads. I would not discourage someone to read this novel but I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone either.

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