Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Illuminating Comics

In one of my other classes this semester, I’ve studied some of William Blake’s pieces. I learned how he accompanied paintings and drawings along with the text in order to “illuminate” the themes and provide the reader and observer with a deeper understanding of the poems. I thought this was an interesting approach to poetry and didn’t think anything more of it after class let out. Then, I started reading McCloud’s Understanding Comics and realized Blake’s “illuminated texts” were essentially early forms of comics. The pictures and text create a perfect balance, each influencing the other, offering deeper meaning, a different perspective, and an understanding that brings together the artist or author and the reader (196).

As I contemplated more about this idea, I began to see how the techniques, concepts, and philosophies McCloud puts forth in Understanding Comics not only unfold the world of comics, but also really apply to each of the signifiers we have been studying. Geography, tattoo, and the human face have each been mediums through which the generations have communicated and come to a deeper connection between one another; however, these mediums are visual and enhanced by the verbal. The comics offer a synthesis of the visual and verbal mediums inviting the reader to become aware of the whole world that surrounds us. When McCloud is describing the process one might approach to learning the art of comics, he says, “He learns to see BENEATH the crafts of draftsmanship and scripting to see the WHOLE picture” (175). Through this, McCloud, as well as the other authors featured in this course, is suggesting by looking at the various signifiers beyond the superficial, we will be exposed to the whole world, where there is balance, support, illumination, and the possibilities are “endless” (212).

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