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Understanding Comics

This week's reading "Understanding Comics" by Scott McCloud took us into the makings of comics and the various styles used when they are created. One of the things I found interesting was the experimentation with the flow of the comic. It is common for readers to read from left to right or even up and down but the story becomes a lot more interesting, in my opinion, when the flow is changed up. It reminded me of a Goosebumps book where depending on which chapter you read first, it will lead you into another storyline that ultimately makes its way to the end. It all still made sense but takes on a story puzzle or maze-like feel.

I've always been a fan of comics because of the marriage between words and pictures. Words will tell you one thing and the pictures will deepen the depth of those words with added emotion, relationships, actions, etc. This is why I wondered why picture books were categorized as only being for children when it is beneficial across the board. Just as McCloud describes they are like dance partners that understand when it is their turn to lead and shine when appropriate. He explains how pictures were the first form of communication and were very effective in depicting stories. I believe he mentioned it was when the printing press took over that pictures started gradually being reduced from literature.

I really appreciated the breakdown of how words and pictures could be combined in comics. With the upcoming assignment centered around storytelling and comics, this was very helpful in deciding which method I should take.

Here are the combinations they mentioned:

  • Word specific

  • Picture specific

  • Duo-specific

  • Additive

  • Parallel

  • Montage

  • Interdependent

I didn't read comics much before so I didn't realize how many ways there were to write a comic and create a relationship between the words and the images. Another point that McMcloud subtlety mentioned was the declined use of books. It was only mentioned in one frame but was such a true statement as people move towards the digital world. What do you think is the cause for a lack of interest in books? Is technology the main reason or is something else also to blame?


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