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Reinventing Comics: The Evolution of an Art Form Paperback – July 25, 2000
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Scott McCloud's Reinventing Comics, the sequel to his groundbreaking work Understanding Comics, is a study of two revolutions: a failed one and a potential one. His 1993 book was not only a chronicle of the potential breakthrough of comics (which he redefined as "sequential art") into a legitimate art form but a sterling example itself of the medium's astonishing untapped potential. Now, seven years later, he chronicles the failure of the comic book industry to fulfill that promise, but also explores how the movement can be restarted, particularly by utilizing the resources of another spectacularly successful revolution, the Internet. In the first half of Reinventing Comics, an elegantly clean example of comic art in McCloud's trademark bold black-and-white style, the author outlines how hype, speculation, and artistic burnout led to the genre's decline. He then lays out 12 paths toward a new revolution of comics, including creators' rights, industry innovation, public perception, gender balance, and diversity of genre, which are then explored with such innovative intelligence that, as with his earlier work, the conclusions he comes to are fascinating for both artists and nonartists alike.
Three of his paths, however, are of particular interest to anyone who wants to know how the Internet will affect both our lives and the livelihoods of future artists. Understanding Comics, with its brilliant how-to guide on marrying image and language, has become an indispensable reference for many Web designers. Now McCloud returns the favor by focusing on how the digital revolution will influence production, delivery, and the art form of comics itself. Informative without being pedantic, controversial without being argumentative, and always entertaining, this is both a worthy sequel to the author's brilliant original and a work that opens up the potential for an entirely different direction for sequential art in the realm of cyberspace. --John Longenbaugh
From Library Journal
This is an exceptional book (in comic format) of ideas presented as a reader-friendly theoretical lectureDand it may just be the blueprint for the very future of the comics industry. McCloud, author of Understanding Comics, a classic exploration of how this unique art form actually works, now uses his impressive insight and admirable clarity to map out "12 revolutions," which, he believes, need to take place for comics to survive and finally be recognized as a legitimate art form. The topics progress from the oldest of comic-related arguments (seeking respect) to the use of computer technology to renew and expand its audience. These brilliantly presented discussions concern comics as literature, comics as art, creators' rights, industry innovation, and public perception, among other topics. McCloud's arguments are strong, factual (he recaps the evolution of the comics industry and the Internet to support his theories), and persuasive. He describes the comic as a "misunderstood, squandered idea...that seems increasingly obscure...[and] small...like an atom...waiting to be split." After reading this treatise, I agree. Strongly recommended for all public and academic libraries.DChris Ryan, New Milford, N.-- small...like an atom...waiting to be split." After reading this treatise, I agree. Strongly recommended for all public and academic libraries.DChris Ryan, New Milford, NJ
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The first part talks about the innovations in comics over the 30 years prior to the publication of RC in 2000. I really enjoyed the sprawling, well-constructed argument, but I feel if I hadn't read a ton of the comics he mentioned I wouldn't have gotten as much out of it as I did. If you have read Spiegelman, Clowes, ACME Novelty Library, Gaiman, as well as things like RAW and other indie comics, I would recommend this book. You will love the arguments and also get a lot of suggestions for great new books to try. However if you have only read Marvel stuff, or haven't read comics at all, I'm not sure how much you'll enjoy it.... you may not even follow the argument without understanding the supporting material. Perhaps this will *inspire* you to read these great works... or perhaps the book will fall flat.
Part II goes into the innovations of digital comics. Having been written 13 years ago, and with my own extensive background in digital media (and concomitant disdain for hype-y digital evangelists) I figured this would all be horribly out-of-date but I was pleasantly surprised to see that McCloud was spot-on. He even has a panel of a child holding what looks like a large iPad on her lap, tracing a shape with her finger, with a caption about the next generation. To be predicting the iPad in 2000 is pretty shocking, and that is the quality of the thought behind this book in general. This guy is so well thought-out, it's hard to believe at times. The end of Part II gives a vision for digital comics that manages to dodge the digital hype and get to the core of what spatialized narrative is all about. I was afraid his vision would be some of that hypertext interactive narrative hogwash that those of us in the media arts field have grown tired of... but McCloud is much more balanced, gets right to the historical core of the situation, and I feel accurate. Unfortunately we'll have to wait another 10-20 years to find out.
In short, a solid book. A nice quick read that will make you really respect and see deeper into comics. But if you are a noob, first read a bunch of great comics and graphic novels first (McCloud's reading list at the end is a great place to start). You will get tons more out of this book with that behind you.