Scott McCloud: Reinventing Comics
Scott McCloud is a comic book artist, author, & lecturer. He is the author of the outstanding books Understanding Comics : The Invisible Art, Reinventing Comics: How Imagination and Technology Are Revolutionizing an Art Form, and Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels. All 3 books are MUST-reads for anyone interested in any area of comic books, whether you’re a casual reader or want to spend the rest of your life making them.
Along with Douglas Wolk in recent years, McCloud has done more than any other, in my mind, to “re-brand” comics in the minds of comics readers and the public to teach comics as an accepted art-form alongside movies, paintings, books, etc.
In his book, Reinventing Comics, McCloud discusses “twelve different revolutions in how comics are created, read, and perceived today.” I’d like to reprint those 12 revolutions here as I think they are the keys to changing the face of comics. So here we go:
Scott McCloud’s 12 Revolutions that will Change the Face of Comics:
1) COMICS AS LITERATURE: That comics can yield a body of work worthy of study and meaningfully represent the life, times and world-view of its author.
2) COMICS AS ART: That comics’ formal artistic properties might be recognized as capable of achieving the same heights as forms like painting or sculpture.
3) CREATORS’ RIGHTS: That comics creators might gain control over the fate of their creations and a fair financial stake in them.
4) INDUSTRY INNOVATION: That the business of comics might be reinvented so as to better serve producer and consumer alike.
5) PUBLIC PERCEPTION: That the public perception of comics could be improved to at least acknowledge the potential of the form and be prepared to recognize progress when it occurs.
6) INSTITUTIONAL SCRUTINY: That institutions of higher learning and the law could overcome popular prejudice and treat comics with an even hand.
7) GENDER BALANCE: That comics could appeal to more than just boys and be made by more than just men.
8) MINORITY REPRESENTATION: That comics could appeal to and be made by more than just straight white upper-middle class males.
9) DIVERSITY OF GENRE: That comics was capable of handling a wide variety of genres, not just adolescent power fantasies.
10) DIGITAL PRODUCTION: The creation of comics with digital tools.
11) DIGITAL DELIVERY: The distribution of comics in digital form.
12) DIGITAL COMICS: The evolution of comics in a digital environment.
You can read more about each of these revolutions in McCloud’s book Reinventing Comics.
I challenge everyone who reads, creates, sells, or publishes comics to grab ahold of three of McCloud’s revolutions to consciously devote yourselves to. These are the keys of changing the face of comics. These keys embrace where comics have come from, but recognize that things need to change in order to bring comics to that next level of social acceptance.
The three that I have chosen to champion are:
• Public Perception – This is one of the reasons I started this blog. It exists to promote myself as a writer and creator, but also, I want to actively take steps to change the public perception of comics. For people to realize comics as a respected art-form, that there are stories in comics out there for everyone, and that comics exists as a “cool” subculture. I want to do away with the existing idea of the “comic-book guy” and re-brand comics into something hip and sexy (which many facets of it already are).
• Gender Balance - For years and years, comics have ignored half of it’s potential audience. And now Japanese-Manga has arisen to fill that void. In the last few years, many traditional comics creators are setting out to fix the problem as well. DC started the Minx line of comics which are high quality Manga-sized stories dealing with teenage female protagonists. More and more female artists and writers are popping onto the scene and they are spectacular. This is why I’ve sought out a female artist for Strongsville. I want to promote female creators, and attract female readers, who for too long were ignored by mainstream comics.
• Diversity of Genre – This is an area where comics are getting it right. Right now you can find pretty much any genre you want in comics from Westerns to Romantic Comedies. The problem is that these books aren’t selling anywhere near the level of the “adolescent power fantasies.” The more that creators embrace these genres and present them in high-quality, creative ways, the more they will be accepted by wider audiences. I believe that genre-diversity is the key to breaking out of the limited, incestual audience of “comic book guys.”
Strongsville is a super-hero book to a degree, but hopefully it’s explored from a different perspective and dealt with teenage stories that aren’t dealt with in mainstream comic books. And I also have plans to break into other genre’s with future stories.
I’d love to hear stories of which revolutions you feel are most important to you and brainstorm ways to implement them. Feel free to comment below.