Making Comics, and Much More

By: Scott McCloud

Making Comics is Scott McCloud's third book in his trilogy of non-fiction medium-exploring graphic novels. Like Understanding Comics, (and to a slightly lesser extent Reinventing Comics), Making Comics is an amazing resource for artists and art teachers alike. It is also a resource that will likely go largely unnoticed outside his audience of comic artists and graphic novel readers.

That is unfortunate, because McCloud's books supply lessons that go way beyond their genre. As I mentioned in a much earlier post, McCloud's books provide a unique view on the nature of art and the artistic process.

For example, in his new book, McCloud identifies five choices that cartoonists regularly make with each new panel (and often between panels); and many of these choices are ones that we want our students to make as well in the planning stages of their projects.

  • Choice of moment. What point in time is shown, and why choose that point?
  • Choice of frame. Choosing the distance and angle of your composition.
  • Choice of image. What style best represents your theme?
  • Choice of word. How words are used in a composition to convey information
  • Choice of Flow. How compositions relate to one another.
The last two probably aren't as universal considerations for artwork outside of the comics genre (although are important to consider in work that does integrate written words or appears in a series.

One of the most interesting sections of Making Comics is McCloud's description of the process of rendering facial expressions. He asks his readers to consider a larger range of facial expressions in their artwork than "happy" or "sad". Through mixing simple emotions and varying intensity, new emotions can be represented. Anger + Sadness = Betrayal. Joy + Sadness= Faint Hope. Of course, these equations have no definitive mathematical results, but thinking about them can help students examine a deeper range of facial expressions in their work, whether they're doing drawings, paintings, or comics.


Post a Comment