Sunday, January 6, 2013

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud

I've always stayed away from comics and graphic novels, other than once, when I tried (and failed) to read Persepolis. I would never actually say that anything written in comic form is an inferior form of literature, but for a long time I probably thought that. When you're young, you graduate from picture books. You get the impression that more sophisticated readers don't need pictures as props.

In a way, I think I read this book to help me get over that. Like I said, I once tried to read Persepolis. It was, you know, critically acclaimed, and powerful, and moving, and all of that, and I thought I should. But I just couldn't get into it. I found that I was reading it, I was taking it in, but I wasn't immersed in it. I couldn't get myself immersed in it. This sounds funny, but I didn't really know how to read and appreciate graphic novels, and I needed someone to explain it to me before I could.

And for filling that purpose, I loved this book. It's a comic about comics. It covers history, literary theory, creative process, and it's really very smart. But what convinced me was not what he said. It's the way Scott McCloud used the medium to say it. I got what he was telling me because of the way he was telling me, through the juxtaposition of images and words, and the way the images flowed from one to the other, and I understood that I gleaned something very different from the experience than I would have gleaned from a words-only book, no matter how conversational and witty the words might have been.

I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone who already enjoys graphic novels or comics, but especially to anyone who has never really understood or appreciated the medium. I'm not rushing out to my nearest comic book store, but I've since read a couple very good graphic novels, as good as any book I read this past year, and I intend not to completely overlook graphic novels in the future.

1 comment:

Abominable's Main Squeeze said...

Interesting. When I was growing up, we were forbidden from bringing comic books into the house even though they were beyond popular at the time. My parents (or probably more my dad) felt that comic books would take us away from reading quality literature. And we read a LOT of that. I'm actually kind of grateful for that. Not that comic books would have been harmful, but rather that it taught me to be picky about what I spent my time reading. So graphic novels kind of come across to me as the modern version of the comic book. Not harmful, but not necessarily a good use of time. Maybe a wrong impression, but that's how I've always seen them. Fortunately I didn't forbid you from reading them ;) and you've been able to enjoy a couple. I'm having a harder time feeling the urge. The graphic novel written about graphic novels sounds a little more intriguing. I'll have to think about that a little more. Enloyed your review!!