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Highly readable but ultimately disappointing
on 31 October 2000
Scott McCloud was always going to have a hard time topping the inspired, revolutionary 'Understanding Comics', and it is perhaps no surprise that this follow-up does not entirely manage to do so. It's certainly highly readable, with McCloud's likeable approach and unquestionable intelligence coming through on every page. But whereas 'Understanding' was a cohesive, tightly-structured study of the language, conventions and underpinnings of comics, 'Reinventing' fails perhaps because in the end it attempts to do too much. The best sections, containing McCloud's theorising on the potential for various forms of digital / online comics, work so well because of the author's infectious enthusiasm for his subject. Other topics, such as a discussion of the woes of the current comics industry and the need for wider cultural representation in the medium, lack this enthusiasm and suffer for it. I suppose the best way to sum it up is to say that whereas 'Understanding' not only fired me up with the desire to create comics but also gave me concrete tools and things to think about, 'Reinventing' did moderately well at the first aspect, but did little regarding the second. Certainly worth reading if you're interested in the future possibilites for the medium, but not the classic it's predecessor was.