Apr 10, 2009

[Comics] Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art

Understanding ComicsWhen Google announced its new web browser, Google Chrome, they did so in a most unusual way - by releasing a 38-page comic that described just what made their new browser so different. It was a most inventive way of launching a new product and it helped more geeks like myself get introduced to Scott McCloud, the man behind the comic.

His unique style of creating comics in order to explain what could have been a technical nightmare was just brilliant and certainly refreshing considering how matter-heavy some product announcements can get. Given my love of ventures like the Common Craft show's "Plain English" instructional videos, I've always felt that it's a good thing to make more technical or even perhaps geekier ideas more understandable to the average user. Heck, it's why the Geeky Guide exists after all.

So I was pretty surprised when a friend of mine lent me one of Scott McCloud's earlier works and probably one of the main reasons Google reached out to him to help them promote Chrome.

Scott McCloud at the Rhode Island School of De...Image via Wikipedia

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, can be categorized as both a book and a comic book, depending on your perspective. It serves the purpose of a book in the sense that this is a pretty in-depth look at the world and history of comics and why this particular media form is so popular and powerful today. At the same time, it is presented like a comic book, thus further pushing what's so important about comics and being able to present its various faces in the best way possible.

In some ways, Understanding Comics may read like a text book, since it does try to address that purpose. For far too long has the comics medium been left on the sidelines and not treated seriously and Scott McCloud decided to remedy that with this book. Thus the tone can get pretty serious at some points and Scott does have a tendency to get a little lofty here and there, but that's only because of has passion for the art form, if you can call it that. However since he stuck to a comics format, it makes things a lot easier to understand and to eventually digest since he makes sure to not just discuss the concepts he's trying to explain but he also clearly illustrates how these ideas are put into practice.

Whether you are some casual comic book reader who picks up the occasional Archie on his or her way to the bathroom or the die-hard comics enthusiast who dreams of breaking into the industry one day, this book is going to show you so much more about the world of comics and how it came to be. It'll give you a much clearer appreciation of the medium and the unique way it's able to present ideas, concepts, messages and stories to a diverse audience around the world every single day. This is simply a great read and I can't imagine anyone not gaining something of value from this book.

Now if only I could draw better...

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