Reinventing Comics by Scott McCloud. Some Notes:

While the book is a little dated, reading it in 2016, its core theories and principles are incredibly relevant when looking at comics in the digital age. It is interesting to see that digital comics haven’t evolved that far since the writing of this book. More reading is required, and more notes need to be made. Added note, look at some for the books McCloud uses as examples.

  • “To understand comics we need to separate form from content – and see with clear eyes how other eras have used this same idea to beautiful ends – and what a limited palette of tools and ideas our own era has used.” [2000:1]. The history of comics needs to be taken into account when looking at their current state. (Looking at the ‘dead’ medium to understand the ‘Undead’.)
  • “The heart of comics lies in the space between the panels – where the reader’s imagination makes still pictures come alive.” [2000:1] Marshall McLuhan and the space between panels, time. “In relying on visual sequence, comic’s substitutes space for time.” [2000:2]
  • “Like other media, comics is merely a simple idea – in search of complex applications – yet comics remain relegated to non-art status by conventional wisdom. A status some try to combat (although some in the community relish it).” [2000:3] Greenberg, Dominant media theory?
  • “Comics professionals don’t always agree on their long-term goals for the art for, or for the industry, but there was some common ground at least.” [2000:10] Art vs. Business, plus societal position.
  • “It hasn’t often paid to ne a pioneer in comics, and some of our greatest innovators laboured in obscurity for years, though the mainstream usually sits up and takes notice eventually.” [2000:18]
  • “Today, the moving image – both through movies and television – accounts for the lion’s share of such windows. Comics, like other minority forms, are vital to diversifying our perceptions of our world. The best way to understand the nature of our environment is to return to it from as many vantage points as possible – triangulating its shape from without.” [2000:19] Using art to examine and shape our view of the world and society. – Gesamtkunstwerk?
  • “I think the challenge for comics in the 21st century is not to move ‘forward’ as so many would have it. The challenge is to grow outward.” [2000:22]
  • “Slick white paper and a square binding are no guarantee of literary merit, and great ideas can as easily be scrawled on cocktail napkins – but in moving from periodical to book, an implicit claim of permanent worth was being made – a claim that had to be justified.” [2000:29]
  • “Periodicals have traditionally carried with them the connotation of disposability; of temporary worth – while books brought the promise of something more.” [2000:29] That the presentation of a media can denote its perceived worth. – Marshall McLuhan, ‘The Medium is the Message.’
  • “For the direct approach comics artists may choose to depict their worlds at a nearly photographic level of detail using traditional media, computer graphics or actual photos.” [2000:35] Mixing media to provide greater depth of clarity in meaning.
  • “Fiction and non-fiction bleed into one another easily in comics. The first time ‘Maus’ hit the New York Times Best Seller list it was mistakenly listed as ‘fiction’ and one look at its protagonists show why.” [2000:40]
  • “Naturally, a sensibility of ink drawing will always be relevant to works reproduced in ink – and even art destined for the screen can benefit from the study of old masters – but to choose computers as one’s primary art making tool is to choose an almost superhuman palette of options – and to devote it to merely imitating their predecessors is a bit like hunting rabbits with a battleship.” [2000:141]
  • “As of 2000, a more than a decade of ‘being useful’ has produced a select class of digital experts – and many younger artists now see acquiring computers as the first rung on the ladder to power. For others, though; particularly veteran artists of earlier generation; the fast pace of change can be unsettling – and the prospect of the comics industry converting entirely to computers can lead to severe alienation. After decades of mastering the technologies of pen, brush and mechanical reproduction, the advent of computers can only mean one thing to these artists: Personal Obsolescence.” [2000:142]
  • “Thanks to the mighty ‘undo’ and the ability to save intermediate versions – pursuing one option never has to exclude others. The digital canvas offers a malleable world with limitless opportunities for revision and expansion. Computers replace an armada of physical media with a single work environment, but by doing so expand the palette of visual results greatly; and that palette grows larger by the day – and once again the tool that makes it all possible isn’t something you can put in a steel case – or on a plastic disk inside a cardboard box – or in a half-inch-wide strip of glowing pixelated icons on a glass screen. The tool is the idea that art as information is intrinsically limitless – and the case and the disk and the screen are just the first shapes the idea chose to take.” [2000:148]
  • “Computer artists are a greedy lot. They want to have it all and they know they’ll get it if they wait long enough. The often cited trade-off between the power of computing and the spontaneity of pen and ink is only a temporary condition. Advances in both software and hardware will return spontaneously to many artists within the decade.” [2000:151]
  • “Cheap, popular graphics tools have been around only a little more than a decade! That means nearly anyone making art on computers is an immigrant to this new world.” [2000:151] Digital Immigrant vs. Digital Native. – Marc Prensky.

Books to read:

  • ‘A Contract with God’ by Will Eisner
  • ‘The Spirit’ by Will Eisner
  • ‘Maus: A Survivor’s Tale’ by Art Spiegelman
  • ‘It’s a good life if you don’t weaken’ by Seth

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