I’m actually a fan of McCloud and I’m glad to be reading something that I can identify with. I used to co-author a short comic with a friend of mine, back in the day when a notebook and a pen were the only tools we had and our friends had to hand the notebook around to read. So I have some appreciate with what McCloud does in Understanding Comics. Comics are hard, you want characters to be distinct but at the same time (at least on the part of the artist) you want them to be easier to draw. Overly detailed characters take up a lot of time that can be better spent doing other things, so McCloud’s section in chapter two is there to remind you that the character just needs to be recognizable. I like to think that the more simple a character is the more you, as a reader, are able to fill up those ’empty’ spaces and put yourself into those spaces. For me it helps characters that, otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to identify with. It’s a technique that McCloud calls masking (with some combination of background involvement, but I’m not talking about that).
Now I was never the artist in our duo and at the time probably couldn’t be bothered with blank space in the frame. That was okay though, she understood it. Not everything needed to be filled in, not every prop in the scene needed to be detailed out; we just knew what it was. We knew that what ever we put on the page is what was there. If there were lockers in the frame or a large caravan (we did a real life and everyday comic as well as a comic called The Red Circus) we just assumed that there was something in there, but we didn’t need to show it. At least I did, I guess I shouldn’t speak for her. The readers also understood that they didn’t need to see the inside of the caravan in order to know that it was probably bloody inside (The Red Circus was not an all ages comic, it was (for us at the time) quite gory).
One thing I want to point out, is how McCloud is avoiding actually using the Mickey Mouse logo but mentions it through out. Especially on page 64, I didn’t realize what he was showing us right away until I read “Sometimes, a mere shape or outline…” I understand this to mean that he didn’t have the rights to the images but still, his point was made before I even realized it. I feel similar to this as I do when he references how we see ourselves in everything, like cars and soda can tops.
I do wish I had this book when I had gone about my early comic career. Maybe we would have stuck with it. Now I just make memes like the rest of the internet.
One last thing I want to add, is that I recently read Grim Grisley’s Frankenstein and McCloud’s concept of “The pipe is not a pipe but a drawing of a pipe…(and so forth)” is on the wall of the cabin where the Creature learns to speak and read. It was pointed out in the class we read it for and I thought that was a nice tie in with what we’re discussing in this class now.
3 thoughts on “This Is Not A Blog Post But Simply a Visual Representation of a Blog Post”
I’m glad you brought up McCloud’s point about Mickey Mouse. I’m sure we all see him everywhere, and I’m also sure Disney capitalizes on it. Icons are so important in our understanding of the world. I also liked how you tied in your own experience with art. I hadn’t thought about my own experience with visual art while I was reading these chapters, I was only thinking about comics specifically, but now I find myself reminded of all the little applications of McClouds vocalizations of ideas.(That was a trainwreck of a sentence but I’m leaving it there) Anyways, it makes me want to go back and look at some of my old art to see if I achieved or failed to achieve a connection with the audience for various reasons. thanks for sharing!
This post reflects a lot of your comprehension of McCloud’s discourse, and I’m impressed by the amount of extensions you sent out from your post. I’d like to highlight the ones that I found the strongest and easiest to identify.
1. You mentioned “masking”— referring McCloud’s argument that overly detailed characters do not allow the reader to be able to “fill in the spaces” so to speak.
a) I wonder then if you’re referring to a need for the reader to feel independent from the author’s intentions for how they should interpret a comic
b) or if you were more along the lines of my own post, where I posited that less detailed characters allow the reader to see/project themselves within that character’s representation.
Maybe it’s both?
2. Also, I spent a little time thinking about the title: that this post is just a representation of a post; it’s not real.
Is it? McCloud would agree perhaps, but I’ve had a hard time separating myself from viewing “things” (intangible or no) from their purpose they serve me. Your titled reminded me of Alan Watts, and the way he talks about the need to realize that all objects in the universe are not really separated; he pretty much sums up that “things” do not exist. We create their meaning! Anyways I hope that this ties back somehow to Scott McCloud and where your train of thought was going/is.
I’m with Amanda on this one, about mentioning Mickey Mouse. Must have breezed right over my head, as they say. I appreciate your tie-in of personal comic book writing. I suppose that adds a unique lens to the process entirely, the visual communication side of arts. I never had much interest in comic books, but I can certainly admire what they accomplish on a variety of levels, that is, what readers see, and then read to follow the images, images always first though, at least in my world, where the reading isn’t as important, or is obsessively located on the image and distractedly read so I can rush along to the next image. It’s just easier to look at the images, the pictures of whoever doing whatever in the comic book. The reading aspect almost slows me down part of the time. I’m not sure what you think about this, and maybe it’s immature of me, but a fraction of the time I imagine myself examining a comic book, it’s for the images, not the text. I pick up a book for text, not images. Perhaps I need to understand the culture of comic books and what people say about this before hypothesizing further. Live well.