Understanding Comics – Reading Reaction


It’s a different experience to read what you would normally in a textbook to be in a comic. Understanding Comics highlighted aspects of human perception that takes place without us even thinking. Chapters two and five also made note of certain characteristics of a comics such as stylistic choices, intricacies of drawing, and the importance of lines and shapes.

Chapter two was rather jarring at first. From the get-go, the author pointed out examples of icons we see on day to day basis, illustrating how although we may view each of the images as the real object. However, a drawing of flowers are not a really flowers – it merely represents a scent, look or feeling – just as a drawing of a few measures of music is not really music. These would be categorized as “non-pictorial” icons. Merely representative of invisible ideas, they are “absolute and fixed” whereas pictures are “fluid and variable” and depend on the artist, cameraman or editor to change and modify how they see fit. Chapter two’s main points center around the universal understanding of the human face in how and why us humans perceive it the way we do. A running example used was the most recognizable version of the human face: a circle, two dots and a line. I found it particularly interesting that as I followed the artist’s progression of differing detailed human faces, I too began to oversimplify. Image

Almost like he was reading my mind, the author called the reader out on it, in a good and bad way. Not only was there mention of how human beings seemingly carelessly detract meaning from only a few lines or shapes but how truly amazing it is that our brains are organized and advanced in such a way that that is possible.

Chapter five compliments the comments made in chapter two by following up with a more detailed description how emotion is such a key player in the way we perceive images. Art in its most basic form mimics human behavior and the author makes it a point to exemplify different style choices using lines and shading. Yet again, I was astonished to see what I could deduce from a thin line or two made only with a few pen strokes. The chapter goes on the highlight artistic movements in the past hundred-fifty years and how artist of each time period would take full usage of blank space within their art in order to make their piece more powerful. “No sooner had the impressionists finally convinced their peers that the world they saw was the world as it is truly seen than another unseen world began to make itself visible.” (ch. 5, p. 122) The chapter goes on to discuss how different artist from around the world make their comics. For example, Japanese comics are mentioned in that the characters depicted in such can express any form of emotion with only a simple addition of lines to their faces.

I thoroughly enjoyed this reading – not that it felt like reading, but nevertheless. It was eye opening to see such intense visual imagery displayed in such a straightforward way, no pun intended.


One comment

  1. Hi Sam –

    A great reaction to the reading. I was happy to see you pull out not only images to reinforce your points, but that quote about impressionists. And you addressed the nature of representation (a flower is not really a flower) well in this post. Please take the extra time to double check your grammar before you post, however – I know this is a blog, but it is also your professional portfolio, and I noticed quite a few grammatical mistakes that seem to be the result of just writing too quickly. I understood what you were trying to say throughout, though!

    Your blog is well-designed and easy to navigate. I would advise splitting your portfolio pages up and making a separate page for each category.

    Great start to the semester, Sam!


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