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How Do You Understand Comics?

When I was a kid, comic books were my favorite things to read. Almost every day after school I would walk downtown and go to a store called “Mackenzie’s” and buy a new comic book. I was all about Spiderman and Iron Man. As I got older and became more familiar with TV shows such as Spiderman and Iron Man, comic books began to disappear in my life. I would think to myself, why am I reading words and pictures and trying to put all the pieces together when I could just be watching the action? As soon as these shows came out on TV, I set down the books. I haven’t read a single comic book for about 13 years until the other day. “Understanding Comics” opened my eyes completely to what I missed out on. As a boy, I thought of comics as just words and pictures to flip through. I was completely wrong. There is so much more behind the scenes action that I didn’t even realize. One very interesting part in the read was when Scott McCloud talked about the Egyptians and the hieroglyphics. Hieroglyphics are essentially a comic. A comic is defined as “a juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or an aesthetic response in the viewer”. Hieroglyphics were pictures that explained a story, aka comics. Each hieroglyphic was a picture with meaning, which makes hieroglyphics essentially a comic. Another very fascinating piece of the read was the whole picture plane. How pictures were distinguished in comic books is very new too me. At the bottom left corner of the triangle is where reality lies. On the right of the triangle is where meaning lies. If you were to have a photograph in the comic, it would be towards the left under reality because it is closer to reality. If you were to have a picture of a human that is cartoony, it would be towards the right near meaning. It is meant to be human, but the lack of reality in the picture makes it be more towards meaning. The top of the triangle has to deal with abstraction. If a picture is hard to make out and understand what it is, it goes more towards the top and away from reality. For example, if one of Picasso’s paintings were in a comic, it would be placed high on the triangle and toward meaning. Typically his paintings are very strange and don’t make much sense to the untrained eye, but they have meaning and are abstract. After reading part of “Understanding Comics” I really do miss reading them. I never knew the meaning of the comic book when I was younger and couldn’t appreciate it. They were always just a bunch of pictures and words to try to get a story across. Yes, they had awesome pictures and action packed words such as “BOOM” and “BAM”, but the meaning of them never hit me until now. I am very much looking forward to continuing what I had lost a very long time ago.


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