For people deep into the art of comics, Milwaukee was the place to be in September, courtesy of UWM’s Bam! Pow! Comic Book Club. Renowned storytelling and comic pioneer, Scott McCloud appeared live at the Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts to present his take on ”The Art of Visual Communication” and meet with many of the fans and comic creators who have been inspired by his works. His books “Understanding Comics”, “Reinventing Comics”, and “Making Comics”* are seminal works that serve as an inspiration and have even been used as a textbooks for teaching sequential art.
When I first began to seriously explore the world of creating comics and graphic novels, I ran across Scott McCloud’s earliest endeavor in explaining the art, “Understanding Comics – The Invisible Art”. I devoured that book (which itself is in a comic format), and immediately ran out to pick up his other two aforementioned books* on the art of comics. To this day they serve as a guide, and a challenge to what we can do with sequential art, the comic and graphic novel formats, and the potential impact of visual communication.
One thing is clear; whether it is theoretical or instructional writing on the subject of comics, or purely creative fictional storytelling (as in his latest graphic novel, “The Sculptor”) Scott McCloud’s style is uniquely absorbing. I find myself feeling like I’m neither really reading, nor looking at pictures, but actually absorbing the stories and information somewhere between those states. It seems to go straight into my head with no resistance.
He began his presentation speaking of the universal desire to absorb oneself in alternate fictional worlds; and his latest effort, “The Sculptor”, certainly shows the level of proficiency he has developed following the path he carved since writing Understanding Comics back in 1993.
But perhaps the greatest impact and encouragement of the event for me, was when he described his artistic process and how even after all these years he has never considered himself an “Artist with chops.” To paraphrase him roughly, each drawing starts out as a pretty rough sketch, and through painstaking working of it, he works it until it becomes a good final version meant for the page. I think this is something a lot of artists can relate to at many points upon their creative journey. And as he described his process, he actually sounded lot like the sculptor in his latest graphic novel, molding with both additive and subtractive approaches, manipulating the forms until they suit his creative needs. In the end, the result has consistently been brilliant, compelling and clear visual communication.
It was a pleasure to hear him speak and be able to chat with him after the event. He brings an intelligent, humorous, and generous spirit to the Comics Community. It was a privilege to have Scott McCloud come to our city, and I would again like to thank Guy Thomas and the “UWM Bam! Pow! Comic Book Club” for making this event possible. https://www.facebook.com/BamPowUWM
You can check out more about Scott McCloud and his work @ http://scottmccloud.com/
T. Reed – City Beast Studio