After the big success of Understanding Comics in 1993, Scott Mccloud was back with Reinventing Comics in 2000. Still using the comics format, this time, Mccloud is exploring other aspects of comics like publishing, distribution and the internet. Webcomics are also a big part of this book.
The first three pages are a resume of Understanding Comics. I don't think that this resume can cover a book so dense and rich in only three little pages, but if you've never heard of the first book, you'll get the idea behind this classic reference.
Then Mccloud is introducing what he calls the twelve revolutions. The first nine revolutions are dealing with things like gender balance, diversity of genre, industry innovation and comics as art. Mccloud calls these revolutions "directions comics can grow in".
The last three revolutions are computer based and are covering almost half of the book (digital production, digital delivery and digital comics). With broadband connections, fast computers, print-on-demand services and a whole new generation of webcomics artists, this part of the book is more relevant than ever!
Some aspects of Reinventing Comics are really worth reading. Things like distributions of comics and the lack of originality in the cartoon industry are fascinating and insightful. Since Mccloud was part of this industry and then went on his own, you can feel that the guy is knowledgeable enough about this topic to deliver relevant information and details.
Another interesting aspect of the book is the fact that comics are always considered being childish or something not worth being called art. The perception of the general public (or other medias) is indeed hard to change and Mccloud is offering a few interesting solutions.
The chapter about "The battle for diversity" is also quite fascinating. Comics are very often associated with superheroes and Mccloud demonstrates that pushing the boundaries of genre or cultural references could be a solution to bring comics to a new level of diversity.
However, part two of the book called "Catching a wave" is not as interesting as the first part. Although Mccloud shows great wisdom by predicting quite accurately the future of digital production, this part of the book was probably already outdated by 2004 or 2005 (the book was written in 2000).
In 2000, broadband connections were not a reality for most of us and computers did not have two or more processors. Indeed, Mccloud is predicting that computer will be faster and cheaper in a near future (not too hard to predict) and this is why this chapter feels so outdated today.
The second chapter also contains a couple of pages about the history of computers. Although this part is interesting if you are not familiar with computers, chances are that you won't learn much from it.
Therefore, if you add the "outdated" part with the "history" part, Reinventing Comics is a good 120 pages book about the industry of comics. Definitely not as interesting as Understanding Comics, this second attempt by Scott Mccloud can be a good alternative if you are looking for something fun (instead of really informative) to read.
Fortunately, Mccloud did come back with a third book titled "Making comics" and this time, the result was a good addition to the first book (Understanding Comics), which can be considered the best book written about comics so far.
About the book:
Author: Scott Mccloud
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Number of pages: 256 pages