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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-5 of 5 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
on February 18, 2001
"Understanding Comics" by Scott McCloud is a real eye-opener. I have spent as much time reading comics as the next guy, but I have never thought of the theories and principles behind the medium. The book takes the reader on a spectacular journey through the underlying structure of comics, and although I don't share all of McCloud's views I have certainly gained a whole new awareness of this structure.
One can always nit-pick, of course. McCloud seems to have a closer relationship to pictures than to words, and his analysis of the pictorial component of comics is much more thorough than that of the literal one. He also claims that no other medium makes its receiver into such an active co-creator, since the reader of comics must fill in the "blanks" between the panels, but I believe that the reader of prose is even more active - when there are no sounds or pictures AT ALL, the receiver has to imagine EVERYTHING himself. There are a few obscurities as well, as when McCloud says "language" but seems to mean "writing system". These and other complaints are all about details, however, and doesn't alter the fact that the work as such is very good.
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on August 17, 2000
I appreciate the innovation of writing a book about comics in comic-book style. It's a clever, winning idea. Perhaps it would have worked a bit better if McCloud himself were a better draftsman, or if there had been more (and better-quality) reproductions of other artists' work.
The writing here is uneven. Some chapters, including "Blood in the gutter" and "Time Frames," are very effective and very specific, with strong insights into the nuts-and-bolts of comic techniques. Another chapter, "The Vocabulary of Comics" -- which uses a big triangle graph to encompass the whole of range of comics art -- is quite insightful but, at the same time, oversimplifies a bit, I fear. I'm not saying McCloud's assertions aren't necessarily true, but he might have put himself on surer ground with some of the language/symbol ideas by getting more heavily into semiotics theory, etc. And maybe here is where the light-hearted tone and comic-book style starts to undercut his intellectual accomplishment. I understand the book isn't meant to be a doctoral thesis, but still, it has high ambitions, and the structure of the book must be subordinated to the loftiness of its aspirations. Chapter 7, which attempts to relate all of artistic achievement into a unified whole, is one of the least satisfying, because it is frankly pretentious and rather gooey, non-specific, in its assertions.
Don't get me wrong. There is a lot of good insight in "Understanding Comics," and I wouldn't debate that it's an essential read for anyone interested in the topic. But it also feels like sort of a primer, a survey. Each one of the chapters could itself be the subject of a whole book. In other words, "Understanding Comics" has impressive breadth but not as much depth as one might want.
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on 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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on June 27, 2004
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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on November 10, 2014
a must to have the ref bible frr all comic artist
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