Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott Mccloud is an insightful and unique book on the wonderful world of comics. Created like a real comic book, Mccloud is going beyond the traditional step-by-step drawing lesson by depicting the very nature of comics like how to use time, space and lines gracefully and how to use text and images together.
The first chapter of the book is devoted to Mccloud's own definition of comics. Although this definition might seem obvious for most of us, the author is able to create a definition that is relevant and complete. From there, you can move on to the second chapter: The vocabulary of comics. Mccloud is giving us a very helpful insight about the iconic nature of cartoons.
The third chapter is filled with wonderful tips on how to manipulate frame sizes and quantities to deliver a stronger message. You will learn how to use space to create nice effects that only comics can achieve!
From there, you will learn in chapter four how to manipulate time, speed and motion. It could be by changing the shape of the frame or simply by using lines to create a sense of motion.
Being fully illustrated (since the book is a comic strip!), the whole process is easy to follow even for beginners!
The next chapter (the fifth one) is devoted to emotions and text bubbles. Once again, Mccloud is able to demonstrate how easy it is to create a single emotion from a couple of lines.
Your characters don't need to be complex and filled with details to be expressive!
Chapter six of Understanding Comics is a very important one. This part of the book shows the importance of keeping the right balance between images and words. A comic book is not just a text filled with images!
Text can be powerful in some occasions while images might be more appropriate for other purposes.
The next chapter is my favorite one. Chapter seven, called "The Six Steps", is devoted to the path a comic book creator might choose to move from an idea / to form / to idiom / to structure / to craft / to surface.
This one might be more complex to understand at first, but it will help you figure out exactly your position on a creative scale. Knowing where you are will help you go where you want to.
The nice part about the last chapter is the fact that it can be applied to any type of art. Whether you are a musician, a painter, a comedian or a dancer, it will help you figure out the reasons behind your passion and the steps that you need to choose to stand out from the crowd.
The last two chapters are about colors and the place of comics in our world. Colors were expensive back in 1993 when this book was first published, but now, with the popularity of web comics, this part of the book is even more relevant than ever.
Understanding Comics is a wonderful book that every comic strip artist should own and read from time to time. Even if the book is almost 20 years old, it's still one of the best work done about cartoons and comic strips since Will Eisner's Comics and Sequential Art in 1985.
The fact that the entire book is done like a comic strip is also nice. Images are powerful and the illustrations and examples that Mccloud is providing are valuable and very helpful.
This book is highly recommended!
About the book:
Author: Scott Mccloud
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Number of pages: 224 pages