Comic theorist Scott McCloud’s visit last Tuesday evening took off with lots of laughs from the audience of close to one hundred attendees.
An eclectic group of students and staff were mesmerized by the quick and interactive 400 slide PowerPoint presentation.
While the slides zipped across the two screens the crowd seemed to linger with laugher that would rise and fall as witty comics and graphic graced the screens in front.
McCloud’s hour long presentation, “The Art of Visual Communication,” went in depth about the necessary cohesiveness between the visual and text, cognitive load time, landscape viewing, shape, and finally digital viewing possibilities, intertwined with comics and cartoons.
McCloud has been working with comics since 1984. He has written multiple books such as “Understanding Comics,” “Reinventing Comics,” “Making Comics,” and his latest graphic novel “The Sculpture.”
He is the inventor of the “24 Hour Comic”, which ultimately started as a dare to complete a 24 page comic within — you guessed it — 24 hours.
Not only a cartoonist, but also a teacher; McCloud is also a theorist of comics, which explains his reasoning for his current lecture series, and his commitment to expand the possibilities of digital graphics and evolving forms of communication.
Comics, along with other visuals, are aspects of informative communication in his view.
“Pictures are words…photos and graphics are grammar” says McCloud.
The two go hand in hand, when properly used together they enforce cognitive thought and processing.
“If I don’t need to think it, I don’t need to see it…images amplify words” explains McCloud as an image of a llama lingers on the screen, further demonstrating the need for cohesiveness between graphic and text.
McCloud smoothly transitions into talking about sequential art. He speaks on the confines that art is limited to. He explains how comics and graphics are a series of lines that limit the artist’s imagination one box at a time.
This explanation of limitation tumbles into the idea of using digital forms to remove boundaries.
“Making the screen a window” says McCloud.
Printed comics are shaped in a way that is vertical it is not until you open the comic that it becomes a landscape version. The idea is that landscape viewing, as opposed to vertical viewing, expands alternate viewing possibilities.
Digital versions of comics have evolved over the years. Each panel can take the full shape of the screen, slide from one panel to the next, and add types of sound or animation aspects.
“It is a birth right to create new worlds to escape to” says McCloud as he sums up his lecture.
He ends with asking his audience if they would like to see and hear what he calls “the worst comic I ever wrote” called “Monkey Town.”
A comic that was constantly suggested by a colleague, McCloud finally gave in and made a monkey comic that contains the word monkey in every panel.
Check out the work here: Monkey Town
This is the link if the hyperlink does show up when added on the site: