Understanding comics calls for sheer determination to read between the lines. McCloud comes in handy in illustrating the existing power of comics. He postulates that comics have strong messages underlying what they may portend in the normal view. They can do more than what individuals may perceive. The book literally shows, through images, and does not tell. Cognitive learning is the main form of education that is most significant in everyday life. The comics that we always encounter in our daily lives support this claim.
The images that we perceive in comics are their basis. They are always built out of icons. They help us in picturing ourselves depending on the message being relayed in the comic. Letters, words, and symbols are entirely abstract icons. They bear no physical resemblance to the ideas they represent. Pictures always vary in abstraction levels. Individuals always tend to picture themselves from the cartoon images. The dots, the lines and symbols that resemble a person’s face in ones brain after he or she tries to elucidate the real meaning. The icons, however, are universally accepted in the comic industry (McCloud).
The lines joined, and dots bring about the image of a human being, in the example. An image of a man is vivid from the curved lines that represent the chest, hand and leg muscles. Fingers, eyes, nose and mouth can also be identified in the picture. This, as McCloud explains, calls for a third eye. One has to be keen enough to relate and compare the features in the picture to that in real life (8). He claims that as individuals enter the cartoon’s world, they see themselves. This calls for one trying to relate with the other side of life. Individuals actually become the cartoons. This happens if they allow their brain to focus beyond what the images present.
McCloud further explains how varying levels of realism and various use of images in comics help in achieving desired effects. The blocks used may represent city or buildings. The bold purple lines appearing to pass through the cartoon may represent powerful rays directed to harm him. On the other hand, they may represent either swords or metal sheets that may have been used to kill him. All this depends on one’s perception.
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Closure is a phenomenon where one observes parts in a comic and eventually perceives the whole. The lack of space or white space between frames calls for one’s scrutiny. It may represent the transition from one scene to another. It may also make us assume that the author had a hidden agenda behind it. In chapter 3, McCloud jokes that the world may never disappear if the individuals stopped looking. When one assumes, it illustrates closure. One moves from a line of thought to a different one. This is exactly what the white spaces between the frames represent. The comic transits from one scene to another. They are also known as the gutter (McCloud).
People’s minds usually try to connect the current frame to the one preceding. In the example given, the character is struck by the rays in the first scene; he then keeps on losing balance until he finally falls to the ground in the final scene. There are different panel-to-panel transitions displayed. The subject of striking the man, from one scene to another, represents the moment-to-moment transition. The action of falling from the skies is the action-to-action transition while the various aspects being displayed represent the aspect-to-aspect transition. Transition is a quality that individuals encounter in everyday life. Its application is thus necessary for positive development.
Emotions are evoked in comics by the use of symbols. McCloud explains this in Chapter 5. The falling of the man from the skies elicits various feelings in people. It all depends on how an individual views the incidence. If one looks at it as if the person had committed a crime, it may be necessary for him to receive such treatment. Other people may pity the man as falling from such a high level may cause injury. The rays directed to him are also harmful and hence people may feel pity. The man, despite being strong, still appears helpless. This means that the powers against him were stronger than the ones he possessed. Individuals may learn that there are super powers that can lead to the downfall of even the strongest forces that may exist.
Pictures and words in comics always work to bring about a particular story. They also work towards a balance in the comic. This helps in making the comic interesting and not boring. The example in Silver Surfer comic has balanced the amount of words used and the pictures (Stan). The words are not that many to change the meaning of the story. They are also simple to understand. They necessitate the fast interpretation of the message being put across. The words need to be as brief as possible to enable the reader to internalize the words by the use of pictures. The pictures are held in the frames. They bring out clearly the message behind the acts. The words act as a short explanation to what is represented by the pictures. They bring out the mental image that readers always draw cognition. A situation where there are more words than the pictures will make the comic lose its meaning. It will turn out to be a narrative (McCloud).
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Purpose, form, and idioms have to be balanced in any comic. This is the main point that will render the comic as successful. The structure, craft and surface of the comic must also be well outlined. This comic was meant to illustrate the aftermath effects of disobedience. The words used in the comic show that the character disobeyed his ruler, hence had to be thrown out. He definitely took a wrong choice, as he is told the judgment did not belong to him. He only had the opportunity of making a choice, which he failed. The structure of the comic is an explanatory one. It is also educative as it elucidates on the eventual outcome of wrong choices or disobedience in society. It thus serves as an excellent lesson to individuals as they may end up facing dire consequences for their actions.
Color has not historically been a bonus to comics – it tends to overwhelm the purpose – but with new technologies, it could be used as a bonus to the format (McCloud).
Comics can influence a great mass. They are universal. Let’s take the example given; the message in the comic can be of great benefit to society. Children who get an opportunity to read it may inculcate good character in their lives. Through operant conditioning, the children may strive to do their best in everything they take part in in order to be rewarded. They also understand that failure to obey the rules set will lead to punishment.
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It is necessary that people read comics. They have lessons encrypted within them. They are essential to the development of children as most of them educate on the positive virtues in communities. Comics relieve individuals and make them relax.
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