Episode 53: Understanding Comics with Scott McCloud

Here’s to another week and another episode How Do You Like it So Far? Fans!  We have got a very special guest for you this week – Scott McCloud, the author of Understanding Comics, Making Comics, and Reinventing Comics.  He met Henry at MIT ages ago and they have been friends ever since!  Join Colin and Henry as they discuss comic book fundamentals with McCloud such as “what are comics?” and the difference between graphic novels and comic books.  They also dive deep into the history of comics with McCloud (did you know that comics are hundreds of years old?!), the difference and confluence of American, Japanese and European comic styles, how the digital revolution is changing the comic book landscape.  McCloud reveals how the American comic scene had roots in vaudeville. Artists such as Winsor McCay would incorporate a theatrical element and draw comic panels on stage where each panel was like a “theater box.” Listen in as McCloud explains how comics take advantage of the composition of memory and how contemporary comics are experimenting with diverse styles and increasingly welcome to women and artists of color.  McCloud also predicts that soon female readership will reach critical point! Also, looking for comic book recommendations? Take a look in our show notes for some of the comics and cartoonists mentioned in this episode!

Here are some of the references from this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:

History of Comics:
Bayeux Tapestry as Comic?
Modern Comics – Started around 1890 or 1900
Goes back 500 years – European broadsheets had word balloons
Notre Dame – Is the Stations of the Cross a Comic?

Top Selling comics:
Diamond vs. New York Times Graphic Novels List 
Franco-Belgian Comics
Moebius
David B

Past, present and future are all present in comics – Richard McGuire’s Here

Asterios Polyp

Cartoonists mentioned in this podcast:
Vera Brosgal
Will EisnerComics and Sequential Arts 
Comics Used for Military Training
Theatricality + Expressive Anatomy – Will Eisner, contract with god
Jack KirbySplash Pages 
Harvey KurtzmanLittle Annie Fannie
Art SpiegelmanRaw
James Sturm
Raina TelgemeierGuts 
Bill WattersonCalvin and Hobbes
Comics are a curious form
Jen Wang
Chris WareBuilding Stories

Comics mentioned in this podcast:
Jerry Craft’s New Kid (Won Newbery Medal)
Family Circus (Single panel cartoons)
Mutts
Richard Outcault’s Yellow Kid
Joe Sacco’s The Great War 
Dr. Seuss’s On Beyond Zebra
Herge’s TinTin Series
Peanuts
Comics from India that are stitched on tapestry
Alan Moore’s Watchmen
Underground Comics movement
Women in the underground comics movement
Manga for girls
YA Comics

Flowers for Algernon

Juxtaposition of McCay and Outcault:

Credit: Public Domain
Credit: Public Domain

Graphic Novels mentioned in this podcast: 
Watchmen showing up consistently on lists (graphic novel and books)

Henry’s book Comics and Stuff

Difference between graphic novels and comics

Biggest box office success in films have been superhero films

Early comic strips – Winsor McCayRole in vaudeville and early film

American comic scene had roots in vaudeville

Mosaic – first graphical web browser

Digital revolution and how it changed comics

McCloud made a print graphic novel that was an e-book

Infinite canvas

Disco Beat – rhythm of turning a page

Rise of female readers will reach critical point

Visual Literacy

Fort Thunder – Cartoonist collective in Providence, RI

Silver age of comics → superheroes

DelSarte Method

Share your thoughts via Twitter with Henry and Colin and also through email at [email protected]!