Understanding Comics — Understand Yourself

cover for Scott McCloud book on comics

How could you not be interested in what Apple Macintosh co-creator Andy Hertzfeld called “one of the most insightful books about designing graphic user interfaces ever written”?

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art is a 215-page non-fiction comic book from 1993, written and drawn by Scott McCloud. It explores the historical and contemporary definition of comics, and how they have changed through time: from cave paintings to online and motion comics.

Refusing to be relegated to the medium of comics, McCloud adeptly delves into subjects like semiotics and the creative process in a way that makes often abstruse concepts easy to understand. Having a background in theoretical and research based visual art production, I was astounded by how succinctly the author was able to identify a six-part process of artistic creation (Idea/Purpose, Form, Idiom, Structure, Craft, Surface), within which the oeuvre of any artistic producer can be situated.

Scott McCloud goes so far as to describe what it takes to be a master of your medium in a way that I find (almost) impossible to disagree with. Although you’ll need to read Understanding Comics to fully get it, McCloud positions masters in two camps: Those who “are often pioneers and revolutionaries — artists who want to shake things up”;  and those who are “great storytellers, creators who … devote all their energies to controlling their medium … to convey messages effectively.”

A must-read and truly invaluable resource, Understanding Comics will strengthen the ‘form and function’ of any artistic producer’s storytelling, regardless of the medium.

detail from understanding comics by scott mccloud

 

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