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Saturday, January 01, 2005

Understanding "Understanding Comics" 

Much more than two weeks late, I've read Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics. It's a virtuoso work.

I am not especially interested in comics. I (shamefully) collected a year or two of early "Punisher War Jounals" in high school, but I got over that. I also devoured every Asterix or Tintin comic book in every library I could find, but I think lots of kids did that. Okay, and I do like borrowing the occasional graphic novel when I'm wandering through the library. But that's it. I could quit any time. Really.

Excuses aside, I'm not a studied reader of comics, but McCloud's book is an excellent introduction to the medium (not, as he makes clear, the content) and the trick that makes me declare it virtuoso is that he not only writes his monograph as a comic book, but his theories are clearly best explicated that way. The comic is the explanation and the example, and this happens on every page. The book feels like it would have been twice as long and half as good as an essay.

Technically, the work is thoughtful. It's an intellectual delight. I can't say enough good things about it. I want to go back and read it again right now. Maybe I will.

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