Reinventing Comics, Scott McCloud

Paradox Press, 2000, 231 pages, C$31.00 tpb, ISBN 1-56389-695-8

Panel 1: The reviewer is sitting in front of the computer, but he’s reading Scott McCloud’s Reinventing Comics rather than type at the keyboard.

Panel 2: Same. The wall clock goes tic-tic-tic-tic…

Panel 3: The Reviewer looks at the reader and quickly snaps the book shut. “Oh, excuse me. I was jotting down references when I just started re-reading everything again.”

Panel 4: Angle on the book’s cover, showing a hex-armed caricature of McCloud handling comic book iconography. “This is such a fascinating book that it’s hard to resist the temptation.”

Panel 5: Close-up on the reviewer’s face, his big angular glasses dominating most of his face. His hair’s much shorter than McCloud, and he does sport kind of an unkempt beard. “It seems a little bit amazing that I’ve managed to review books on a monthly basis for six years without mentioning Scott McCloud’s work at least once.”

Panel 6: A younger Reviewer at the University of Ottawa’s Library, enthralled by McCloud’s Understanding Comics: “I first read McCloud’s first book in 1995, thanks to the good people at the University of Ottawa Library.”

Panel 7: Short collage of Understanding Comics’ iconography, from the “Sequential art” drawing, pictorial vocabulary pyramid, scene transition chart and, of course, McCloud’s simplified alter-ego: “Published in 1993, Understanding Comics became an instant classic. Its influence was deeply felt in areas far removed from simple comics, as it explored the meaning of art, iconography and all sort of neat things.”

Panel 8: The Reviewerat a Coles cash register, circa-1995, plunking down some cash for a copy of Understanding Comics: “I liked it some much, I went out and bought a copy. I end up re-reading portions of it every year or so.”

Panel 9: Back on the Reviewer at his computer: “Unfortunately, though I may be sympathetic to the field, I’m not plugged into the comic book grapevine. I hadn’t even heard about a sequel until recently.”

Panel 10: The Reviewer at the local Silver Snail comic book shop, Creature Tech in hand, pulling a copy of Reinventing Comics off the shelf with a big grin in his face: “Naturally, I took care of that as soon as I could.”

Panel 11: Reinventing Comics partially obscured by the shadow of a well-lit Understanding Comics: “McCloud’s first book was so successful that any follow-up act will suffer from any comparison.”

Panel 12: The reviewer duct-tapes the joint in the middle of an arrow branded with both books’ cover: “But it’s less of a sequel than an expansion on the themes defined in the first volume.”

Panel 13: The Reviewer at a lectern, clenched fist raised (grasping a crumpled X-HUMANS comic book), a huge FIGHT THE STATUS-QUO poster behind him: “While Understanding Comics was an explanation, Reinventing Comics is a call to arms.”

Panel 13: Overweight man-on-the-street muttering “that Superpeople stuff…”: “Now that we know what comics are and what they can be, it’s time to make them what they ought to be.”

Panel 14: A diagram showing McCloud’s “Twelve Revolutions” [P.23]: “To this end, McCloud defines twelve ways to make comics evolves toward increased maturity. While some of them are familiar-”

Panel 15: A university professor showing a comic book to a classroom of students: “-Like comics as literature, art, worthy of public and academic attention,-”

Panel 16: McCloud’s dollar-shaped “Industry Monster” [P.71]: “-others are more technical, like a discussion of creators’ rights and the re-invention of the industry.”

Panel 17: A picture of a randomly-selected crowd in a park: “McCloud also highlights comics’ essential need for diversity of gender, race, status or genre.”

Panel 18: Pixellized low-resolution images of comic books surrounding a fuzzy web of computing devices: “He concludes the book on the three digital revolutions that will soon affect comics, from form to production to delivery.”

Panel 19: Reinventing Comics‘s cover is shown, the right half heavily pixellized: “In fact, this book spends almost half of its length on the digital revolution.”

Panel 20: A shiny Understanding Comics is placed besides a scruffy-looking Reinventing Comics: “Explicitly written in 2000, McCloud’s follow-up dates itself rather quickly whenever discussing technical issues.”

Panel 21: Both books are enclosed in a protective glass. A security guard says “First Editions! Buy your own!”: “But then again, McCloud’s discussion of the issues is mostly theoretical, avoiding specific products and projecting far in the future. It’ll endure, don’t worry.”

Panel 22: McCloud’s “tree of justification” [p.48]: “Especially when parts of it are so good, like his discussion of the roots of art-”

Panel 23: The Reviewer standing in his local Comic Book Shoppe “-or his lucid explanation of the comics business circa 2000, which stands true for other publishing industries as well.”

Panel 24: The Reviewer weights, Blind-Justice-like, both books in his hand: “While Understanding Comics is a work of brilliance, Reinventing Comics is merely very good.”

Panel 25: The Reviewer stands in the middle of four intermingling groups of people: badly-dressed geeks with glasses, lugubrious young people with berets, overweight fan-boys and professorial middle-aged intellectuals. “Like its predecessor, its impact won’t be limited to the comics field, but will spill over in arts, academia and technical circles.”

Panel 26: The Reviewer steps in the local Chapters bookstore: “But there’s one area where it’s far more effective, and it’s in convincing readers that everyone can contribute something to the next comics revolution.”

Panel 27: The Reviewer picks up a book at the Graphic Novels section. Prominently displayed are copies of Ghost World, Watchmen, Sam & Max, Transmetropolitan, Doonesbury and -why not?- Small Favors: “I mean, I know my comic book classics, but is it enough?”

Panel 28: The Reviewer, his find in hand, walks past a Comic Books section overstuffed with X-People, X-Stuff, X-Super, X-Steroids, X-13, X-Crement, X-Asperating and other muscle-bound titles: “I’ve got friends with forty-bucks-a-week habits at the comic book shop, but are they truly comic book fans, or just addicted to super heroic power fantasies?”

Panel 29: The Reviewer is stuck waiting in line at the check-out counter: “Is this one of these cases where if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem?”

Panel 30: The Revi
ewer hands a copy of Maus to the cashier, specifying “Gift-wrapping, please!”: “If so, I’d like to help.”

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