A self-portrait of McCloud from Understanding Comics
Deemed the “Aristotle of comics” by many, Scott McCloud delivered his popular presentation to Rowan University last Monday to a packed theatre hall.
McCloud has written for DC comics in Superman: Strength and Superman Adventures, but is more well known for his own creations Zot! and his nonfiction writings about comics.
McCloud’s presentation ,which he has delivered to Pixar, wasn’t about his work or his thoughts on comics, but instead focused on how communication is presented in the comic medium.
“We see ourselves in everything we encounter,” he said.
We depend a lot on facial expressions to express emotions in life and to depict emotions in art according to McCloud. Simple expressions can be combined to create complex ones such as angry mixed with joy equals cruelty. Whole stories can be told without words for the expressions on a character’s face is all you need.
McCloud also dicussed how time is expressed in comics. Comics act as a temperal map that shows off time and space. As you move through the panels on a page you are moving through time.
Readers usually imagine what happens between panels which creates a sense of life not found in other mediums.
“Cartooning is a way of seeing and reducing the world to a concept,” McCloud said while saying that an artist can present ideas in a strong way through simple pictures.
McCloud showed off how the world of print may be fading slightly, but the digital frontier opens a new door for comics.
Comics can now be seen through a literal window pane as each panel is presented onscreen. The comics’ stories can literally be viewed in a circle format or with a parallel running below it onscreen. Panels can take a turn while scrolling which could mean a turn in the story.
While the presentation of this new format for comics looked impressive, it also came off a bit nauseating.
McCloud enjoys the world that comics allows someone to engage in.
“No one gave us a choice which world we were born in,” said McCloud.
We should be able to choose what worlds we want to inhabit, McCloud explained.
The audience seemed pleased with McCloud’s presentation and erupted into applause when it was finished.
Mike Tran, 24, a member of the audience who attended based on being a fan of McCloud and found the event through McCloud’s twitter.
“How explained in depth with comics history, the facial expressions convey emotions,” said Tran, a graduate from the Temple Tyler School of Art on what he liked about the presentation.