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How do you understand comics?

I have always enjoyed comics, comic books, cartoons, and the like. Growing up, I always read the comics section of the newspaper with my father and my favorite book is Watchmen, a graphic novel. Comics have always been a medium of entertainment that I particularly enjoyed, much more so than paintings/pictures or regular books. I like looking at pictures, but always feel that something is lacking, as I usually don’t understand the point the artist is trying to get across. I also like reading, but find myself trying to imagine what exactly the characters look like, but not in the way I think they should look, but in the way the author sees them. I think that’s why I enjoy comics so much because they are the mix of these two things. As Scott McCloud puts it, comics are “juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence” (McCloud). That’s how I understand comics and what I love about them: it’s a work of art brought to life in every sense. I don’t understand why comics are so underrated and overlooked as legitimate forms of entertainment and expression for this reason. I guess some people just prefer television and film over comics or aren’t looking at comics as art brought to life, but that’s how I’ve always viewed them.

Although I am a comic book fan, I did not know just how many styles of drawing and storytelling there were in this genre. It is interesting to see the differences in styles and the contrasts that are created out of that. I have liked comics and cartoons for a long time, but have never given much thought to the technical aspects of them. The writers and illustrators of these works are challenged with condensing an entire story filled with deep themes into individual frames, and yet, they manage to pull it off. Comics are not just “picture books” or children’s stories. They can be for people of all ages, races, and backgrounds because they can simultaneously live in the world of reality and fantasy. They can relate to our everyday lives or explore themes that many people identify with, while also allowing us to escape to another world or discover new ways of looking at life. They can be both amazingly complex and incredibly simple at the same time. When reading a comic book, it doesn’t feel like a bunch of tedious words, and yet the story is rich with life and depth and meaning. Doing these things in television and film is a lot easier than doing it in only pictures and words.

I really enjoyed these readings and am looking forward to immersing myself in the world and history of comics.

Comments

J. Chambliss said…
Your love of comics highlights the cognitive demands associated with the form. With the growing vocabulary to understand the medium you love, challenge yourself to "unpack" how individual stories and creators use the medium to engage with you.

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