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


Leave Comments