I talked before about what I thought was a specificity of comics books when it comes to talking about art forms (cf. Different forms of art). It seemed obvious to me that there was something special about them, that we could not find in any other medium, which allowed and will allow comic book authors to create very important, emotional experiences in their readers’ mind.
The art of comic books
I was recently advised to read a comic book about the art of comic book : This is called “Understanding Comics – The Invisible Art” (“L’Art Invisible – comprendre la bande dessinée” for my fellow french followers) by Scott McCloud. The author is not a very well-known author, apart from this specific book, but the work he did with it is just amazing.
This comic book actually goes through many topics about this art : its origins, the different ways of communicating ideas/concepts through drawings, time management in and between panes, movement representation, or the way text and drawings complete each other. He also made an amazing work of comparing the specificities of each of the three cradles of comics (USA, Western Europe, Japan), analyzing them from each cultural and economic perspective.
The comic book about comic books
This would already be very interesting as a written book, which might seem logical for a deep analysis as it is. But Scott McCloud decided to use the medium itself to present these different topics, and that’s what makes this comic book such a tremendous teacher. As the saying goes : “A drawing is worth a thousand words”; but he actually did both in this book. It’s a very clever lesson about the beautifulness of the art of comic books.
A must-read for anybody who… well, anybody actually! Really! Anybody!
P.S.: we’ll see in later articles similar attempts of explaining one form of art using its own medium. Wait and see…