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Understanding Comics Paperback – Apr 27 1994

4.8 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Understanding Comics
  • +
  • Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels
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  • Reinventing Comics: How Imagination and Technology Are Revolutionizing an Art Form
Total price: CDN$ 65.03
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (April 27 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006097625X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060976255
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 1.5 x 26 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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 " 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

Top Customer Reviews

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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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
"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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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
Understanding Comics is a chronicle of the infinitely weird connection of words and pictures that is comics. It tells usabout the heart of the concept of moving your eyes across panels, looking at the pictures, reading the words, and perceiving them all as a unified, flowing entity. It told us how and why the concept of reading and creating comics works.
Reinventing comics, on the other hand, focuses more on the public's attitude toward comics, the comic industry, and the varied possibilities of new ways of creating, distributing, marketing, purchasing, and reading comics. It contains many of Scott's theories as to how comics are and could be influenced by the internet and the new way of thinking it has brought us.
These are two very different books with two very different subject matters. However, they link hand in hand to aid us in viewing the medium of comics as a whole. If you liked Understanding Comics, you may or may not like Reinventing Comics. If you liked Reinventing Comics, you may or may not like Understanding Comics. But if you want to view the authors opinions and ideas on everything and anything that did, does, and will apply to Comics, I advise you get them both.
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