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Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art Paperback – 10 May 2001


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Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art + Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels + Comics and Sequential Art: Principles and Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist (Will Eisner Instructional Books)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 1st HarperPerennial Ed edition (10 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006097625X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060976255
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 1.5 x 26 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

As all good card-carrying comic-book fans know, their sheer passion will never overcome narrow-minded critics and their baying cries of derision. There is far more to this perpetually underrated medium than a mix of art and prose. With this indispensable, spellbinding tome, writer/artist Scott McCloud rises to the challenge of dissecting what remains the most enigmatic of art forms. After all, says McCloud, "No other art form gives so much to its audience while asking so much from them as well". Over the course of 215 impeccably formed pages, McCloud joyously exposes and deconstructs a hidden world of icons in a most literate and valid manner. His charming guidance finds a place where Time and Space is effortlessly malleable and the reader is both a willing accomplice and necessary vessel for comics' singular magic. Cunningly presented in comic form, McCloud (or his comic equivalent) conducts a journey that spans thousands of years, taking in art from Prehistoric Man to the Egyptians to Van Gogh to Jack Kirby. Never has psychological and cultural analysis been so understandably clear, beautifully aided by clever visuals and his truly infectious love for the medium. By the end of this funny, charming, rare and exciting book, you'll not doubt the notion that a comic book "...is a vacuum into which our identity and awareness are pulled ... an empty shell that we inhabit which enables us to travel to another realm". A fine exchange for a little faith and a world of imagination. --Danny Graydon

Review

"A landmark dissection and intellectual consideration of comics as a valid medium."-- Will Eisner "McCloud is the McLuhan of comics."-- James Gurney, "Dinotopia"

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By M. Board VINE VOICE on 19 May 2004
Format: Paperback
There are precious few books around that really treat the comics medium seriously, or fully explore what is and may be possible in that medium. Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics" is one of the few and - for me - is the best of the bunch.
This book has tonnes of things going for it: McCloud's enjoyable and accessible cartoon-style delivery, which is itself a brilliant demonstration of how powerful a communication tool comics can be ... the infectious passion he has for his subject ... the bountiful results of his serious research and scrutinization ... I could go on.
Perhaps the best thing about "Understanding Comics", though, is McCloud's sheer imagination. When it comes to comics, he has a way of thinking and seeing that is almost completely uninhibited by any preconceptions. The result: he's constantly chucking ideas at you that surprise you and make you re-think about comics, writing, art and perception. You might not agree with everything he says, but the point is you're thinking about something you'd never have considered before. It's a truly eye-opening piece of work.
For readers and writers of comics alike, "Understanding Comics" is invaluable in helping you to appreciate 'sequential art'. For those who have never considered comics worth bothering about ... I urge you to get this book and read it. I guarantee it will make you think again, about comics in particular and art in general.
One final note: as I'm sure Scott McCloud himself would say, don't stop here. Check out other works such as "Comics and Sequential Art" by Will Eisner, or Alan Moore's essay "Writing for Comics". And any sequential art you can lay your hands on!
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Karen Traviss on 26 Sep 2004
Format: Paperback
A colleague who produces comics recommended this book to me as the definitive guide to the subject, and he was right. McCloud uses comic-strip techniques as elegant proof of the fact that comics really can get a message across to their audience. Apart from its obvious how-to value, this book is also a handy defence against the intellectual snobs who deride the medium (yes, that was me, once upon a time) because of its thoroughly researched and - dare I say it - scholarly approach. It's a surprising, enjoyable and educational guide by someone who clearly loves his work. I'll never see comics the same way again.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Dec 2002
Format: Paperback
This is one of the true necessities for anyone serious about cartooning and what Eisner calls "sequential art". It is NOT a how-to-draw book. Rather, it discusses the nature of drawing and cartooning, and how concepts are depicted through the pen - all with a very personal touch, the author speaking directly to you through the medium of cartooning. McCloud also examines the evolution of true comics from basic drawing, and how the "language" of cartooning has come to differ in different cultures. This book will make you think long and hard about the subject and what you do in it yourself.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Mar 1997
Format: Paperback
One of the highest functions -- and the most difficult -- of mankind is communication. The ability to translate concepts into pictures and symbols that accurately relate the substance of your thoughts -- this is the challenge.

Scott McCloud has created a triumph of communication. You, the reader, are easily and instantly transported into his universe, where you will journey on a wild, thought provoking tour of not only comics but all venues and dimensions of visual art.

In its own way this is a book as significant as Doug Hofstadter's "Godel, Escher, Bach" but MUCH more accessible through its simple graphic novel format.

Even if you've never read a comic before and have no plans to start, you will still be captivated by this journey through history, art, and creation.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Julian Browne on 27 Jan 2011
Format: Paperback
I bought this because I thought it would help me understand my own fascination with comics. I am not a comic geek, have never collected them, never furtively shuffled through first editions in a gloomy back-street shop. I do have a thing for cartoons, especially the old ones. I guess I was hoping for some insight into how both art forms somehow (for me) manage to slip under the emotional radar of everything artificial and grown-up and appeal to something more human and universal underneath.

Other reviewers have covered the book's mechanics in fine detail so let me just add that it did all I expected and more. In attempting to explain comics this book opens up debates on the many social, artistic and metaphysical tributaries that add to the form, or that the form contends with in order to perfect radar avoidance. It changed the way I think about comics but also added to an understanding of how it's possible to utilise the ideas in other areas.

And did I say it's fun? Every page is crafted with a delicate economy of storytelling (which is kind of the point I suppose) that makes it both profound at times and always effortlessly readable.

One of those books that will just get read over and over again.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 May 1997
Format: Paperback
Scott McCloud has entertained readers with his wonderful comic, _Zot!_ Now he informs his readers in this, one of the greatest books on the psychology of comics ever written.

Shunning the usual nostalgic tone of most books written about comics, McCloud uses the comic format to discuss not the history of the X-Men, but rather the method of storytelling in which such characters are presented. He writes on a vast list of subjects, ranging from the meaning of the word "Comics" to the use of blank space between panels. The art style is simple where it needs to be and complex where it is required. The message comes across in panel after panel of information that is stated simply enough for everybody to understand, if they will only open their minds to these "Funny Books."

Scott McCloud's book is an invaluable resource. It allows you to stop merely reading comics, and start understanding them.
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