Matt's Reviews > Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
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Feb 17, 09

Read in February, 2009

What a fantastic introduction to the art of comics. Scott McCloud's work sets a new benchmark in comic art appreciation. The highly esteemed reputation this book enjoys is richly deserved. The tools he describes like the art pyramid and panel-to-panel types are a great place to start for comics critique and analysis. His explanation of the "invisible art" between panels, what he calls closure, is the clearest I've seen. I'd like to have seen more about how closure is different from say what Jacques Lacan calls suture.

McCloud's knowledge of Eastern and Western social differences illuminate how that translated into their comic art. The Eastern idea of "being" versus the Western emphasis on goals and "doing" impacted the medium of comics in ways I hadn't appreciated till McCloud pointed them out.

The closing chapters on the path that a comic book writer/artist takes had a poignancy that I never expected from a work like this. I teared up a bit when McCloud described the artist that doesn't have the skill or passion to make it far along the path before giving up. I feel like he could have built a whole new book just around that chapter.

I think the only flaw may be when he tries to nail down what art is. He defines art by what two things it is not. The description is so broad that it doesn't really add much and invites the reader to find exceptions. His discussion of representation versus symbols is perfect and trying to place them in this vague definition of art is not necessary.
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