Understanding Comics

Understanding Comics

The Invisible Art

by Scott McCloud
Publisher: HarperCollins
Trade Paperback, 224 pages
Price: $24.99
Used Price: $15.00 (1 in stock) Condition Policy

Understanding Comics is a fantastic book. Fantastic both in terms of its quality, and of its whimsical approach to an often-neglected subject. That often-neglected subject is comic art criticism, which author Scott McCloud defines for readers, and systematically explains in its various aspects.

A comic version of McCloud literally guides readers. He borrows a term from Will Eisner, sequential art, tweaking the definition to refer exclusively to comic books and graphic novels. Then, in comic book format, he offers a crash course in art theory, literary criticism, and logical analysis, building a fluid yet stable foundation for interpreting and appreciating comics.

McCloud does such an excellent and entertaining job, you could easily use this as part of a high school literature course, or an art class, or simply as a manual for understanding pop culture in its various manifestations. The observations are concise, the material is comprehensive, and the presentation is nothing short of genius. What more can we say?

The list of authors who've praised Understanding Comics should speak for itself—Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman, and Matt Groening, to name a few. McCloud claims in his equally enthralling book Making Comics that his comic story books aren't as good as they could be; if Understanding Comics is any indication, that's polite modesty rather than realistic self-appraisal speaking.

There are few books every high schooler should read, and it seems crazy to say a comic book about comic books is one of them, but that's what we're saying. If you want students to understand the intersection of art and literature practically and theoretically, Scott McCloud's book is for you

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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Exodus Rating:
Summary: This guide to understanding graphic novels can double as a guide to literary analysis more broadly.

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