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How have we changed our definition of the comic form over time?

How have we changed our definition of the comic form over time? Comics are defined as “juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in a viewer.” This definition is pretty open for interpretation, so what is considered a comic is up for debate. The question also relates to our readings but the wording is slightly ambiguous. I believe there is a difference in what I consider comics and what Scott McCloud considers comics. The definition of comic is very broad and gives the medium a large reign over multiple forms or artwork. Personally I do not consider cave paintings to be a form of comics but Scott McCloud on the other hand does.

Originally the only form of comics that were recognized as comics were the dime comics which were small booklets filled with pictures and words in sequential order and the comics that were found in the newspaper for example The Yellow Kid. These forms still exist today but many other forms have been added to the list. Scott McCloud considers hieroglyphics to be a form of comics as well as ancient cave paintings. These forms are debated over whether or not they are considered comics because of the fact that they could be a form of language, so instead of being comics it would simply be writing. Also the definition of comics came long after these cave paintings so to consider them a form aside these booklets filled with colorful pictures and storylines seems a little farfetched.

Comics can be found in various forms but they all follow the same 6 steps. These steps are idea/purpose, form, idiom, structure, craft, and surface. If a medium has these six steps we do not automatically consider it to be a comic because in fact other mediums such as writing follow these exact six steps. In Scott McCloud’s defense these cave paintings along with diagrams that can be found in almost any public area do meet the criteria to be considered comics. They all have images that are in a deliberate sequence, they do convey information, and in conclusion they do leave the viewer with some aesthetic response.

Over time the general public has not changed it opinions dramatically on what the definition of a comic is. If you were to ask a random person walking down the street what a comic was chances are they would give a similar response to say someone from 50 or even 100 years ago. They would talk about comic books or possibly comic strips, they would talk about the pictures and then storyline that goes along with them. Scott McCloud on the other hand has applied the definition to multiple forms of artwork and has made the medium even larger in what he includes as comics.

In conclusion the definition of comics has changed over time, in which it now includes multiple forms of artwork. The broad definition now includes such mediums as cave paintings, diagrams , comic books, and other forms in which pictures and words are used to describe a storyline in sequential fashion. The general publics views on comics have changed slightly but the overall understanding is that comics are comic books, it’s the first thing that comes to mind. The definition of comics has slightly changed which makes the medium even larger then ever.


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