Despite the fact that there are only few resources that determine and evaluate the importance of comics from the point of view of the cross-disciplinary aspects, there is no doubt that comics is conquering all spheres of human life and activities, including art, science, and education. In other words, comics quickly proliferates into various forms of media and artworks, such as movies, design, and literature. The given paper is primarily purposed to discuss the nature and essence of comics on the basis of the book Understanding Comics. Moreover, much attention will be paid to the validity of ideas expressed by the author of the article. Finally, the essay will describe and assess the variety of concepts from the book as well as its relations to the other forms of media and artworks.
Scott McCloud, the author of the book Understanding Comics, seeks to provide precise and, at the same time, detailed history of comics as well as cartooning. Taking into consideration the opinions of the researchers, the book Understanding Comics should be included to the list of the most significant works that contribute to the study of comics (McCloud, 1993). In general, this book may be characterized by such features as novelty, exceptionality, and innovation. Besides, one of the most distinguishing features is that Understanding Comics is itself performed in the form of a comic book (McCloud, 1993).
Taking into consideration the definition of comics, provided by Scott McCloud, the concept of comics should be referred to as juxtaposed images that are, as a rule, reproduced in a deliberate sequence with the primary purpose of producing a so-called aesthetic influence on its readers or viewers. Besides, the author stresses that in spite of the fact that the word ‘comics’ may sound vague and dull to some people, he is deeply convinced that the “phenomenon of comics is huge as well as varied” (McCloud, 1993). Moreover, McCloud stresses that the definition provided by him should encompass all the peculiarities of comics. Therefore, taking into account the main ideas of the article, this book is extremely valuable as it describes the notion of comics as a separate medium. Besides, he adds that the professional comic artists should refer to comics as to the sequential art. McCloud confesses that he wrote his book to the readers of comics or, in the other words, to those who believe that the potential of comics may not be enormous, but limitless (McCloud, 1993).
The book Understanding Comics intends to explain the existence of a medium or the balance. The author believes that in the majority of cases comics should be differentiated from art and literature because a qualitative comics is characterized by a delicate and sophisticated balance of pictures and words. Despite the fact that comparing comics to the movie sphere is an interesting and rewarding idea, comics is different from movies and other forms of art (McCloud, 1993). Comics should be understood as a so-called mixture of pictorial art and writing as it involves the written text and numerous pictures or images in sequential order. Throughout the book, the author makes attempts to prove that comics is not an already existing art form, but a combination of pictorial art and writing. Numerous dialogues combined with pictures demonstrate the progress of actions. Comics, as the author emphasizes, considerably increases the human perception. Thus, it is possible to assume that comics delivers ideas and creative content in a brilliant way (McCloud, 1993).
Despite the visual complexity of the book, this work may be reread numerous times. The main reason lies in the fact that McCloud made a successful attempt to represent complex theories of visual communication as well as complicated design issues, including gestalt theory and even closure with the help of well-organized and structured visual design. In other words, Scott McCloud introduced complex ideas in a simple, easy, and intelligent manner. In such a way, the author emphasizes that the book Understanding Comics should be characterized by such features as creativity, accessibility, storytelling, as well as abstract representation (McCloud, 1993).
In addition, it is rather important to emphasize the fact that the book by McCloud describes long and complex history of establishment and development of art and design. Because of the fact that Understanding Comics is written is an easily-accessible form, this book may be referred to as an intellectual consideration and intellectual masterpiece. Understanding Comics may be understood as a basic manual or the introduction to the world of comics that provides accurate and intelligent definitions and explanations to the complicated issues of the world of art (McCloud, 1993). Moreover, this book ensures a chance to everyone to understand that reading comics is not a waste of time. In other words, this book offers a new and, at the same time, extraordinary approach to comics as it proves that comics is not an empty combination of dialogues and pictures, but a well-thought sequence of phrases that is primarily purposed to educate the readers and viewers (McCloud, 1993).
The author of the book recommends paying attention to the inner content of comics. McCloud purposes to lay the stress on the fact that the dialogues widely represented in comics will make no sense in case they are not natural and properly structured. It means that such factors as form, idea, structure, and inner sense of comics are not only closely interconnected, but interdependent as well (McCloud, 1993). Besides, though the author is a proponent of the idea that comics is the mixture of art and writing, he believes that comics as well as any other art form should be characterized by such features as purpose, form, idiom, structure, craft and, finally, surface. Furthermore, despite the fact that comics is usually not referred to as the major artist’s concern, comics has a limitless potential for self-expression. In other words, comics always includes a spare room for expression, abstraction, and innovation (McCloud, 1993).
It is rather important to consider the fact that numerous cartoonists, including Spiegelman who is included to the list of the most recognized and imaginative professionals in the sphere of comics, support the idea that comics should be accepted as a separate art form as well as literature and cinema. In other words, he believes that comics is a complex and serious genre that influences the public no less than cinema and theatre. Besides, the cartoonist is profoundly convinced that comics involves a sophisticated type of energy that positively influences the development of imagination as well as cognitive abilities of readers and viewers (Galloway, 1990).
One the contrary, according to the theory of Will Eisner, comic medium is more than the mixture of art and writing. He believes that comics should be defined as a subculture, culture, or a distinct discipline. Besides, according to his book, Comics and Sequential Art, comics should be understood as a form of reading. Eisner successfully proves that this medium actually works as a separate means of expression. The book written by this author provides numerous convincing facts that the comics is not created just for amusement, but for more valuable purposes (Eisner, 1985).
As a result, having determined and evaluated the notion of comics from the point of view of McCloud, it is possible to sum up that the importance of comic art is enormous. Moreover, numerous comic books, especially the book Understanding Comics, are essential, because these sources ensure a chance for the people not only to fantasize with new art form and relax, but also to use comics for numerous educational purposes. The analysis allows outlining the connection of the comics with other art forms, such as cinema or literature. According to McCloud, comics is a mixture of art and literature. Spiegelman supposes that comics is not a mixture of several arts, but a separate art form. Finally, Eisner supports the idea that comics is a culture or a separate discipline. Though there could be different explanaions to the essence of comic art, Understanding Comics has proven to be worth reading as it allows the spectators to understand not only the definition of comics, but its inner sense and nature. This book may be referred to as a sophisticated form of art and writing that is intended to prove that comics should be considered a separate and perspective art form.