Understanding Comics

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

So this was really interesting!

Since I have been reading a lot of graphic novels lately, I've been wondering about the technical terms for things. Like "Is there a name for the scribbling over the top of someone's head, to show that they're mad?" Well, I still don't know the answer to that one. But the spaces between panels are called gutters, in case you were wondering.

Anyway, Understanding Comics is less a primer of terms and more a discussion of the question "What is Art?" and how comics fit into art. Graphic novels, webcomics, and picture books all fit into McCloud's definition of "comics." Also lots of other sequential images.

The book itself is written as a comic -- very effective for it's purpose.  It expounds the history of comics according to McCloud and talks about Eastern (especially Japanese) comics vs. Western comics. Their conventions, the things that artists do to get their point across. It delves in to how images can represent the passage of time, and all sorts of other interesting theoretical and practical stuff.

It will definitely be helpful to those (like me) who want to learn more about comics, how to read comics critically, and understand why an artist does something a certain way. More than that, it is consequential as a  commentary on art in general. I'd call it a must for those who want to write comics.

I heard about Understanding Comics from author Gretchen Rubin's blog. She's not even interested in comics, but found it fascinating. I heard McCloud has written two follow-ups. Anybody read them yet? I think I might like to chew on those, next.
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