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Understanding Comics

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Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art is a 1993 non-fiction work of comics by American cartoonist Wikipedia:Scott McCloud.[1] It explores formal aspects of comics, the historical development of the medium, its fundamental vocabulary, and various ways in which these elements have been used.[2] It expounds theoretical ideas about comics as an artform and medium of communication.[3]

Understanding Comics received praise from notable comic and Wikipedia:graphic novel authors such as Wikipedia:Art Spiegelman, Wikipedia:Will Eisner, Wikipedia:Alan Moore, Wikipedia:Neil Gaiman and Wikipedia:Garry Trudeau (who reviewed the book for the Wikipedia:New York Times), and was called "one of the most insightful books about designing Wikipedia:graphic user interfaces ever written" by Wikipedia:Apple Macintosh co-creator Wikipedia:Andy Hertzfeld.[4] Although the book has prompted debate over many of McCloud’s conclusions,[5] its discussions of "iconic" art and the concept of "closure" between panels have become common reference points in discussions of the medium.[6][7]

Publication history Edit

Understanding Comics was first published by Wikipedia:Tundra Publishing; Wikipedia:reprintings have been released by Wikipedia:Kitchen Sink Press, Wikipedia:DC Comics' Wikipedia:Paradox Press, DC's Vertigo line, and HarperPerennial. The book was edited by Mark Martin, with lettering by Bob Lappan. The title of Understanding Comics is an homage to Wikipedia:Marshall McLuhan's seminal 1964 work Wikipedia:Understanding Media.

Editions Edit

Softcover Edit

Hardcover Edit

Sequels Edit

Author McCloud has written two follow-up books in the same format: Reinventing Comics: How Imagination and Technology Are Revolutionizing an Art Form (2000), in which he suggested ways for the medium to change and grow, and Wikipedia:Making Comics (2006), a study of the elemental methods of constructing comics.

Contents Edit

Topics discussed in Understanding Comics include:

  • Definitions, history, and potential
  • Visual iconography and its effects
  • Closure, reader participation between the panels
  • Word-picture dynamics
  • Time and motion
  • The psychology of line styles and color
  • Comics and the artistic process

The Six Steps Edit

In the book's seventh chapter, "The Six Steps", McCloud outlines a six-part process of artistic creation (Idea/Purpose, Form, Idiom, Structure, Craft, Surface). He also notes that artists tend to fall into two classes, depending on which of the first two steps they emphasize more. Those who emphasize the second step "are often pioneers and revolutionaries — artists who want to shake things up", while those who emphasize the first are "great storytellers, creators who ... devote all their energies to controlling their medium ... to convey messages effectively." With these ideas, McCloud anticipates the artistic theory of Wikipedia:David Galenson, which divides all artists into two groups with qualities similar to those McCloud notes.

Awards and honorsEdit

The book was a finalist for the 1994 Wikipedia:Hugo Award for Best Non-Fiction Book.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. Brooks, Kevin (2009). "More "Seriously Visible" Reading: McCloud, McLuhan, and the Visual Language of "The Medium Is the Massage"". Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  2. Varnum, Robin; Gibbons, Christina T (2007). "The Language of Comics: Word and Image". University Press of Mississippi. pp. xiii, xiv, 147. Template:Citation/identifier. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  3. Manning, A.D. (March 1998). "Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (article)". 66-69. Template:Citation/identifier. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  4. Differnet
  5. Horrocks, Dylan. "Inventing Comics: Scott McCloud's Definition of Comics" The Comics Journal #234 (June 2001).
  6. Brenner, Robin (March-April, 2006). "Graphic novels 101: where to start.". 240.,url,cookie,uid&db=ehh&AN=20001403&site=ehost-live&scope=site. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  7. Magnussen, Anne; Christiansen, Hans-Christian (2000). "Comics & Culture: Analytical and Theoretical Approaches to Comics". Museum Tusculanum Press. pp. 13, 14, 23, 49. Template:Citation/identifier. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 

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Wikipedia:Category:Books about comics

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