Monday, 23 March 2009

Thing 78: Understanding Comics

In an effort to try and generate some creative momentum for myself I'm pushing on with a few different things at the moment. My broad idea for Script Frenzy - the first time that I've taken part in it - is going to be something comic-related. Kind of. More on that soon.

To try and get some of the philosophy of comics going through my veins, apart from reading them on a daily and weekly basis as I do, I thought that now would be a good time to tackle Thing 78 on my list of 101 things, to re-read Scott McCloud's three books on comics, Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics and Making Comics.

I'm currently reading Reinventing Comics, I finished reading Understanding Comics over the weekend. It was just as interesting as I remember it being when I got it some years back. I can't quite remember when that was. Within the last five years probably. The central points of it (in my opinion) are that:

  1. comics are not a new phenomenon, although they are taken that way because of the various genres that adopted comics as a framework for telling stories in the last century;
  2. there is something very special going on when people read comics - which isn't to say that there isn't something special going on in your mind when you read a book or watch a play or film, but there is something about comics that is universally understandable - paradoxical since so many people partition off comics as being just for kids;
  3. comics are an artform, comics have a value.
It's certainly given me a lot to think about again, and following hot on the heels of it are the ideas of Reinventing Comics, which focuses a lot more on the ideas and situation as it was in the 90s, as well as pointing out what might happen in the future.

(of course, Reinventing Comics was written in 2000 or so, so we are already seeing whether or not some of McCloud's predictions or ideas are coming true)

Hopefully this will give me some inspiration as I sit down to map out my Script Frenzy; it's not a graphic novel - well it's only going to be scripts in any case, not illustrated except in my own notes maybe - and it's not intended to be a comic strip in the traditional sense. The working title is "Emergence" - and that's all I'm going to say for now, I've got off topic!

Understanding Comics is a brilliant piece of work, presenting in a simple way some really complicated ideas about what comics are. If you have any interest at all in comics and what they can be, you should give it a read.

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