Thursday, September 22, 2011

Understanding #Comics and Humanity Itself!

Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art" has been around since 1994, and is still ranked #1319 in Amazon's list of bestsellers.
I reread the work this week, and was struck with the extent to which this book about sequential art was actually about human perception. Certainly, it is mostly about comics, and if you do any sort of visual art, you probably need to read this seminal work. If you're one of the hundreds of millions of people who read comics (including webcomics), this book can help you understand how and why they work.

But it seems to me that the reason comics work the way they do has to do with the way humanity makes sense of the world through our limited perceptions. This is extremely useful information, whether you seek to persuade and educate others, or simply wish to have greater self-knowledge.
These issues are pretty old. Plato's analogy of the cave asks us to imagine a person who is chained in a cave and tries to understand the outside world by studying the shadows on the wall. All our perception of the world is funneled through some pretty narrow channels: at any particular time, we can see only a fraction of what is directly in our presence! Figuring out how the shadows on the cave turn into the reality we perceive is really interesting and really useful!
The book is also a fun read. Enjoy!

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