Trey's Reviews > Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels

Making Comics by Scott McCloud
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Mar 28, 2011

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Read in March, 2011

I've always wondered why the master of explaining comics has never achieved the status of master of creating comics. Scott McCloud admits as much in the first few pages of "Making Comics," and I assumed for most of the book that it's a case of "those who can't do teach." If he had the innate ability to put great ideas on paper, maybe he wouldn't have the time (or the ability) to analyze comics so well. Towards the end, though, McCloud mentions another factor that may be holding him back when he describes the four comics camps: classicists, animists, formalists, and iconoclasts. "I'll confess to the sins of the formalist [understanding of, experimentation with, and loyalty to the comics form]. I can point to any number of comics that I've drawn in which experimental ideas were pretty much their only virture. Anybody calling such comics 'dry,' 'academic' or 'unreadable' won't get much resistance from me.... But formalists like me can screw up badly when we try to tell a story straight. We keep getting distracted by all the formal possibilities along the way, and wind up with a stiff, fill-in-the-blanks comic where individual panels are just bored excuses to get to the next big idea.... It's hard to just tell a story straight when there are so many possibilities in the air." While McCloud wants to give the formalist camp as much importance as the classicists and animists, it's hard for me to believe that you can create compelling comics that people want to read and be invested in by focusing on the form instead of the content.

In theory, this book helps comic book writers, but I feel like it is much more geared toward artists. Even though I have no artistic talent, and therefore no chance of trying out anything McCloud suggests in this book, it was still a worthwhile read.
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