If you enjoyed Understanding comics: The invisible art, then you’re likely to appreciate more of Scott McCloud’s thesis-in-comic-form. And it’s really a thesis on the art form of comics presented in (whatelse) the comic art form. This is not a “how-to” manual. Be ready for some serious stuff.


Main chapters

  • Comics as literature
  • Comics as art
  • Creators’ rights
  • Industry innovation
  • Public perception
  • Institutional scrutiny
  • Gender balance
  • Minority representation
  • Diversity of genre
  • Digital production: The creation of comics with digital tools
  • Digital delivery: The distribution of comics in digital form
  • Digital comics: The evolution of comics in a digital environment

Beginning chapters “Setting Course: A “low” art takes the high road” (p26) and “Negativeland: The business of comics” (p56) gives more insights into the development of the North American comic business and industry. I now understand how the major players (like DC Comics) and the independents came about.

p62 mentions “Creators’ Bill of Rights” for comic artists:

“It seems like some gruesome fairy tale now, but there actually was a time when comic books were literally burned in the streets! In the mid-50s the book Seduction of the Innocent by psychiatrist Fredric Wertham helped trigger a firestorm of anti-comics hysteria.”

p86 – persecution of comics in the mid 1950s.

p124 “… it is often those most schooled in life’s harshest realities who grow up least inclined to revisit them in fiction”

p125 “but all readers want to be transported by fiction in the end, even if the journey is through a mirror of the world we already know –”

“– and as long as no one gave us a choice of the world we were born into, a little escape seems a reasonable request, and one of the many that comics can fulfill.”

p128. Chapter on “The things about tools: Some thoughts on computers” has interesting condensed version of the development of computers from early 70s to late 90s.

p 138 “Through the door: Digital production” – on the development and use of computers to make art.

p154 “The frictionless economy: Digital delivery” – talks about the internet and the impact, possibilities and issues to the comic industry. In fact, this chapter could very well apply to the publishing business as a whole.

p. 160: “As I write these words, about 16,000,000 domains have been registered worldwide. There are now more sites in operation than there are books in the Library of Congress — and the Web is growing a Hell of a lot faster!”
(this book came out in 2000)

p161 brilliantly shows why libraries and books are still relevant:

Scott: Imagine anything you could possibly want to know about any subject!
Guy: Anything at all?! Uh… How about fishing?
(Woah! [shows books crashing down])
Scott: You got it!
Guy: (picks up book) Woo-Hoo! Look at all this stuff about fishing!
Scott: No matter how esoteric, no matter how specialized, it’s either on the web now or it will be soon… With millions of sites in existence today, and more coming at a rate of —
Guy: (opening a book) Ahem. Why are all these pages blank?!
Scott: Hold on a minute… There. (flips book)
Guy: Oh. I see…
Scott: There ya go. Something’s coming in now.
Guy: “Win a free dream Vaca –”
Scott: Oh sorry… No, that’s just an ad banner

p175 – gives arguments on the advantages of print over digital.

p200 – “The infinite canvas: Digital Comics” – talks about how new digital medium can transform at how comic art is presented (from printed strip format to hyperlinking). Uses the analogy of “temporal maps”. Of comics “being told vertically, horizontally, packed slowly in a revolving cube”.