The initial step in learning how to understand comics is to start with the definition of comics. The definition of comics from Understanding Comics states that comics are a juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer. Comics are juxtaposed because they do not convey a specific time, such as in film or television. The other component to understanding comics is pictorial. Comics are a series of pictures that capture the imagination of the reader. The pictures do not provide a complete sense of what is happening, which lets the reader use their imagination. Unlike movies or televisions, comics make readers think more . Another valuable component in the understanding of comics is through the study of its history.
Scott McCloud took the reader through the history of comics in order to gain a better understanding on the comics we know today. He considered different forms of communication and art as comics, such as the Egyptian hieroglyphics and the French Bayeux Tapestry. Learning about these different art forms can help understand how comics started and where did it originate. He also mentions how stain glass windows can be seen as early renditions of comics because of how they were painted in a sequence that told a story. Paintings that created a sequence were also considered early forms of comics. The way that people perceive the difference between abstract and reality is another component that makes us better understand comics.
Comics can be interpreted in many ways. They can be seen as either abstract or close to reality. A picture plane sets a guide for better understanding them. A picture plane is a triangle that demonstrates reality versus meaning, and the depth of emotion or abstractness that can be seen in a comic. Comics that are more abstract tend lean towards meaning on the plane. The abstract and three dimensional they are, the higher up they go on the plane, which invokes emotion from the reader. Comics that are more realistic, tend to lean more towards reality and lower on the plane. For example, a realistic picture of superman or batman will be closer to reality. Using the plane, gives readers a better understanding in the emotion and depth that comics can bring to us.
By researching this history of comics around the world and the United States, we can learn how the concept of a sequence of pictures came to be known as comics. Modern comics are more than just words and pictures. Looking at early history, comics were used as a mean of communication. Today, comics are a series of sequential art that makes the reader think more than other forms of media. By learning more about modern comics and researching the history of comics, people will be able to gain a better understanding of comics.