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Understanding Comics [Paperback]

Scott McCloud
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 28.50
Price: CDN$ 17.87 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

April 21 1994
Praised throughout the cartoon industry by such luminaries as Art Spiegelman, Matt Groening, and Will Eisner, this innovative comic book provides a detailed look at the history, meaning, and art of comics and cartooning.

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Understanding Comics + Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels + Reinventing Comics
Price For All Three: CDN$ 54.54

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As all good card-carrying comic-book fans know, their sheer passion will never overcome narrow-minded critics and their baying cries of derision. There is far more to this perpetually underrated medium than a mix of art and prose. With this indispensable, spellbinding tome, writer/artist Scott McCloud rises to the challenge of dissecting what remains the most enigmatic of art forms. After all, says McCloud, "No other art form gives so much to its audience while asking so much from them as well". Over the course of 215 impeccably formed pages, McCloud joyously exposes and deconstructs a hidden world of icons in a most literate and valid manner. His charming guidance finds a place where Time and Space is effortlessly malleable and the reader is both a willing accomplice and necessary vessel for comics' singular magic. Cunningly presented in comic form, McCloud (or his comic equivalent) conducts a journey that spans thousands of years, taking in art from Prehistoric Man to the Egyptians to Van Gogh to Jack Kirby. Never has psychological and cultural analysis been so understandably clear, beautifully aided by clever visuals and his truly infectious love for the medium. By the end of this funny, charming, rare and exciting book, you'll not doubt the notion that a comic book "...is a vacuum into which our identity and awareness are pulled ... an empty shell that we inhabit which enables us to travel to another realm". A fine exchange for a little faith and a world of imagination. --Danny Graydon


"A landmark dissection and intellectual consideration of comics as a valid medium." -- -- Will Eisner

"McCloud is the McLuhan of comics." -- -- James Gurney, Dinotopia

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars arrived in good quality Feb. 16 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
the book arrived sooner than i expected! i'm really glad that it did because it was a gift for a friend for christmas. didn't get a chance to look at it closely.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Really good. Simple and effective Jan. 3 2014
By Rose
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a must read for everyone who has every wondered "why comics?" or even "why pictures?"
Simply and effectively drawn and read.
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If you are interested in any aspect of comics at all, this is the first book you should have on your shelf. Scott McCloud guides you through the history and theory of comics art with wit and wisdom, all captured in an easily accessible comic. More than a simple funny book, this book will change your opinions on comics, whether you have never picked one up before, or you are a long-time comics professional. This book could be used as curriculum for a college course, despite (or maybe because of) the whimsical artwork. The art draws you in and makes the information easy to accept and understand (in fact, McCloud gives examples of why the comics artform makes it easy to read and identify with). McCloud takes this subject matter seriously, and after reading, you probably will too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
This is an important book that everyone should read. I would give it twenty stars if I could.

I've long been interested in both art and comic books (I have collected them for over 50 years). While the library shelves are full of wonderful books that explain what traditional artists are trying to do and why they succeed, I've often found the books to be pretty boring. In recent years, such books have gotten bogged down into abstruse language that is much less appealing than the art which is the subject.

But in those years, I've never seen anything that was very helpful in discussing the rules of comic art, except some books about pop art when that was popular that examined how the pop art was different from comic art. Naturally, I was blown away when I found that Understanding Comics is a far more comprehensive, thoughtful, and accessible book about interaction with art than I have ever read. Although the subject is ostensibly comic strips and comic books, it's clear to me that that Mr. McCloud has a deep and powerful understanding of all art. Some of his conceptual displays of where different forms of art fall in different dimensions of choice (degree of realism, abstraction, and message) are unbelievably powerful.

I hope that some art historian will stumble on this book and recast the history of art to explain and relate different styles to one another using this book's methods. There would be a lot more art lovers if that were the case.

Ultimately, the book's main benefit is to help the reader appreciate that comic art can be a higher and more effective form of art than either pure images or written words by requiring a mastery of more elements . . . elements that are more powerful in grabbing attention and conveying meaning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a neglected topic Aug. 9 2000
By ltp1
McCloud sketchily reviews comics history, dissects the anatomy of comics, and meditates on human thought and visual perception. There's something here for lots of people.
His analyses of, say, the components of the creative process, might be debated -- but he invites discussion. Comics readers will learn a thing or two. Comics disparagers or ignorers would be enlightened if someone kindly left this book where they'd scan it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great historical/artistic overview of comic books Sept. 25 2010
Format:School & Library Binding
If you want to understand the comics as an art form, this is a must. It's also gets you thinking on storytelling in general, whatever the medium. And the "comic-as-textbook" format is absolutely incredible!
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Comic as both Art and Science June 28 2004
By Jeff
Disregard the Sanchez Review. If it is not fiction, Mr. Sanchez has no interest in it. This is a most interesting book that adds to the legitimacy of the comic book as literature and an art/science. A plus to collectors and readers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The best text book on comics around. April 19 2004
This was required reading in the cartooning program at the School of Visual Arts and with good reason. Clear, informative and never dry, McCloud provides the best reference to understanding the principals of constructing comics without delving into drawing lessons, an area already sufficiently covered.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An Enlightening Read
Even as a lifelong reader of many types of comics (superheroes, Asterix, underground, manga, etc.) this book was a revelation. Read more
Published on Jan. 24 2004 by Uncle Al
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Just For Comic Fans
Understanding Comics is about so much more than just understanding comics. It is an excellent work on Symbolism in many forms. Read more
Published on Oct. 10 2003 by Joel A Shults
2.0 out of 5 stars What is everybody talking about?
I don't know what everyone is talking about, but this book was an absolutely dull nightmare of a read. Read more
Published on Sept. 12 2003 by Luis A. Sanchez
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Impressive
Sure, I have taken Art 101 courses, but none of those held my interest as much as this author. I had never really taken comics seriously, but I certainly will give them more heed... Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2003 by Randy Given
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rosetta Stone of Cartooning
Scott McCloud does for cartooning and story-telling what Webster and Stunk & White have done for the English language. Read more
Published on June 19 2003 by John Gallone
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive and Fun - A Must Read
This book is both an instant classic and very enjoyable. I am was not a reader of comics until I read this book. It convinced me of comics' status as art. Read more
Published on April 22 2003 by H
5.0 out of 5 stars More people should read this!
Scott McCloud does a fantastic job explaining the history, potential, and inner workings of comics as a medium. Read more
Published on March 23 2003 by Nom de Guerre
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