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McCloud on Comics Components
Transcript of McCloud on Comics Components
Remember diagramming sentences?
The Grammar of Comics
Juxtaposed pictorial and other images
in deliberate sequence,
intended to convey information and/or
to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer.
Scott McCloud’s Definition in
Even more Delineations
on its own generally refers to the medium or the art form.
This often gets overlooked--the page itself is a component of comics
“Traditional” comics are usually done in four steps
Making a comic page
"Comics are not prose. Comics are not movies. They are not a text-driven medium with added pictures; they’re not the visual equivalent of a prose narrative or a static version of a film. They are their own thing: a medium with its own devices, its own innovators, its own clichés, its own genres and traps and liberties."
Douglas Wolk, from
Original Graphic Novel
The Comic Book
McCloud likes to categorize!
Word specific (illustrate not add)
Image specific (soundtrack to visuals)
Duo-Specific (reinforce each other)
Additive (words amplify/add to meaning of image
Parallel – show two stories not visibly related without forcing them to combine
Montage – words are part of the picture
Interdependent – words and pictures are necessary for the full meaning
Types of Word/Image Relationships
Motion…how is it shown? How can it be used effectively or ineffectively?
Like images, language can be used at many different levels, appealing more to basic concepts or sensual experiences.
Artists can use sound, panel size, and even line and shapes within the picture affect our experience of time.
Are there ever Non-Sequitirs?
The level of iconicity isn't limited to depictions of people or animate objects.
McCloud describes the
of an object in terms of the difference between...
Concepts or Idea
Concepts versus Senses
Key to McCloud’s concept of the icon is the problem of
: How on earth do you recreate something? What does it mean to be realistic or not?
This is Not a Pipe
1 2 3
The relationship between words and images is part of why comics are so interesting, but also why they are often viewed as “easy” or “childish” or “lowbrow”
A few Words on Words
It is also a catch-all term for any work expressed through the medium of comics. Comics-the-art-form is also
comics manga fumetti
bandes desinnées (BD) manhwa
komiks manhua historieta
The "basic unit" of comics, the panel is, at some level, what makes comics
. They are the steps of the sequence.
How is speech, thought, narration, sound portrayed in a primarily visual medium...one without sound?
Closure is what makes us able to “read” comics.
The gutters are the most common form of closure we encounter reading comics--the space between panels.
Remember, motion itself is the moving through space in time—and space and time are keystones to the construction of comics
a visual representation of a person, place, thing, or idea
most famous iteration in Roland Barthes's
Elements of Semiology
a relative of linguistics concerned with
what and how language means
but this applies to IMAGES, too.
this is one of Barthes's major points in
Rhetoric of the Image
Denotation: the "objective" description of what the image is (a description of the signifiers)
A red curvy shape inside a pentagon, yellow filling in the spaces between red.
Connotation: what the image means, from the basic meaning to more emotive and descriptive meaning
The Superman symbol; "Truth, Justice, and the American Way;" heroism; bravery; Clark Kent...
More on that later.
Let's get back to McCloud.
Painter of Sunflowers
John Singer Sargent,
Lady Agnew of Lochnaw
, 1345 BCE
Kurt Vonnegut, self-portrait/signature
the language line
"Amplification through Simplification"
refers to realistic backgrounds (or particular objects) in contrast to cartoony people or other objects.
Trees, proud standing people
stretching fingertips to the sky, reaching, praying
glorious attention, breathing light.
strength / shelter / timeless confidence
bending and firm / comforting / rooted chorus line
dancing with the moon, the wind, the clouds
framing bursts of stars
tender rugged celebration
absorbing and releasing life
each holy branch
holding the power of the Universe.
Let's look at some whole pages...
(you'll be reading that soon)
T h e R e t i n a l E d g e
T h e R e p r e s e n t a t i o n a l E d g e
T h e C o n c e p t u a l Ed g e
besides the fact that it might kill you