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Understanding Comics Paperback – Apr 21 1994


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Understanding Comics + Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels + Reinventing Comics
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Avon; Reprint edition (April 21 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006097625X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060976255
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 1.5 x 26 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #25,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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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

Review

"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

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on June 24 2008
Format: Paperback
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 By ltp1 on Aug. 9 2000
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
Scott McCloud does a fantastic job explaining the history, potential, and inner workings of comics as a medium. I was especially impressed with his concise descriptions of visual theory and its particular applications to comics. Occasionally I felt that McCloud's treatment of a topic could have been more fleshed-out (the chapter on color, for example, or his concluding idea of comics as a particularly good form of communication) or that he made some unnecessary generalizations (his definition of art was a bit trite and even misleading). On the whole, though, McCloud's ideas are sophisticated and he is able to communicate them with surprising eloquence to both the art historian and the general public. In fact, though I am an art historian, I learned a good deal from this book.
McCloud's decision to use the comic format to present his ideas is ingenious, and I doubt that prose alone would have been able to deliver his messages with such clarity. The one drawback to the format is that I fear it will only appeal to those who already value comics, and that as a result those who most need to hear what McCloud has to say never will!
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Format: Paperback
Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics," a creation that sits roughly between comic book and historical literary criticism, is an indispensable work for anyone interested in studying funnybooks seriously. Along with Will Eisner's seminal works on the subject (which I have not read all the way through), "Understanding Comics" uses the graphic-text art form to dissect one of the most rapidly growing trends in both art and literature. In an accessible, readable style, McCloud takes the reader through the history of comics, the definition of comics as a sequential art form involving symbols, and examines several major trends in modern comic-dom.
While there's plenty here for both the casual reader and someone interested in more scholarly study. While it's more of an introduction than an in-depth exploration of comic study, McCloud provides enough resources for someone to continue study on his or her own, and enough seeds to begin sprouting ideas about the funnybooks. Occasionally, he misses the mark - his definition of art, for example, is a little broad - and "Understanding Comics" isn't nearly as well-cited as it could be, but these are easily overlooked flaws.
Especially beneficial is his comparison of Japanese Manga comics with traditional American graphic storytelling, because the two are basically the same medium but evolved almost entirely independent of each other, until the last 15 years or so. I wouldn't recommend it for the Sailor Moon fans, but those that enjoy anime and Manga will find much useful information here, in particular the comparisons between the two comic forms (not so much in any actual study of Manga in and of itself).
I highly recommend "Understanding Comics" to anyone who wants to - well - understand comics.
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