Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Scott McCloud on Comics

I watched Scott McCloud's TED Talks video on comics. More specifically, his talk was on the topic of all the subtle dichotomies of comics.

He talks about the fine balance between the absolute transparency of comics (graphic novels often tend to be cheesy or predictable -- also it is possible for one to simply flip ahead and actually see, in a second, what will happen next, also, text is used to make messages absolutely clear) and their extreme abstraction (things as subtle as style can be used to convey a message in a comic. Also, text is one of mankind's most abstract forms of expression. To us as literate people, text is extremely plain, or transparent, but visually text does not relate in the slightest to what it is communicating.)

He talks about the simultaneous blunt presentation of action in panels, and the abstract space left for our imaginations to fill in the spaces between the panels.

He covers the strange mixing of senses brought about by reading comics. It makes sound visual through the dialogues in speech bubbles and the narrative boxes and through the written sound effects. He even reflects on the fact that comics even make time visual. The layouts of comic pages create the illusion of pacing, and therefore the passage of time. All with the use of line. (And perhaps screentone or color.) Comics also create motion with their panel layouts.

This was an incredibly interesting talk for me, because comics are a facet of the art world in which I am particularly interested. It was strangely gratifying to watch this video, because McCloud addressed some of my own reasons for loving comics. I've always loved reading and creating comics because of the idea that it is possible to, in a way, create time. I have a feeling that most people forget that comics are, in a way, a kind of 4D art, along with music and film.

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