4 years ago1,000+ Views
Comics, or "graphic narratives," as they are sometimes called, have been around for ages. Really! Comics theorist and cartoonist Scott McCloud points out examples of early graphic narratives in Japanese woodblock art, the Bayeux tapestry and other early examples of stories told visually - or as McCloud terms it, "sequential art." There are many possible ways to learn what comics are and how to read them, which I hope to share over time, but let's start with this linked guide from Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter: "People know comics when they see them, right? Something that is comics mixes cartoon art and the written word to make either a single picture or a series of pictures. Spider-Man and Family Circus, right? "Well, maybe. Perhaps more than any other art community, people close to the field of comics actively debate the definition of their medium. Many adhere to a verbal-visual blend theory given best expression by the cartoon historian R.C. Harvey: comics mix words and pictures. In recent years, a sequential art definition favored by cartoonist Scott McCloud has gained favor. In McCloud's view, comics are a series of pictures, with or without words, and the progression between the pictures is where the art takes place. "This debate is more likely to be crashed by some third party than ever resolved. The inexactness of the definition may have something to do with the fact comics has borrowed elements of visual art, the written word, music, and even film as it has grown. It may also be partly because its development was marked by decades (if not centuries) of stop and start progress that owed a great deal to parallel more established forms of expression. (...) "I appreciate the sloppiness of the definition, because it allows easier access for comics to encompass a wide variety of formats and formal alternatives. Popular forms and formats of comics include serial comic books, daily and weekly newspaper comic strips, graphic novels, the editorial cartoon, gag panels, web comics, and Japanese manga." He goes on to give brief introductions to the following types of comics: Comic Strips Weekly Newspaper Strips Comic Books Gag Panels Web Comics Manga Although there are several other types of comics missing that I would add, like Manwha, Abstract Comics, Wordless Comics, Infinite Canvas Comics, Graphic Novels, Graphic Memoir, Graphic Journalism, and more - I think his summaries are a good place to start. More on these other categories later! The images I included are sampled from Dan Clowes, Lynda Barry, Captain America, Saga, and Tin Tin. All wonderful artists and works to check out. The thing I love most about comics is that by our day and age, there really is something for everyone! If you want to encounter some awesome contemporary cartoonists - check out my Card about Chris Ware: Or @greggr's post with some thoughts on education by Lynda Barry: