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Understanding Comics Discussion Guide: Home

Scott McCloud

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Discussion Questions

(From Reading with Pictures)

Chapter 1 – Setting The Record Straight – pp. 2

  • What is McCloud’s dilemma regarding comics as the book begins?
  • What’s the difference between pictures and comics?
  • According to McCloud, why isn’t it easy to define comics?
  • To what definition does he eventually arrive?
  • List the ancient civilizations that had some form of comics.

Chapter 2 – Vocabulary of Comics – pp. 24

  • What is an icon?
  • How does knowing what an icon help you “get” the author’s point about the “Treachery of Images”?
  • Discuss the concept of the universality of the cartoon. How/why does this concept help readers of comics?

Chapter 3 – Blood in the Gutter – pp. 60

  • In comics, what is “the gutter?”
  • Discuss the concept of closure as it relates to comics.
  • Of the six types of transitions in comics, choose one that you find most interesting and tell why.
  • What’s the point of the three stories about Carl that are shown on pages 84-85?

Chapter 4 – Time Frames – pp. 94

  • Is each frame in a comic a single moment in time? Why or why not?
  • How does adding words change the length/time of a panel?
  • In comics, time and space are “one and the same.” How so?
  • On page 101, how does changing a panel’s shape affect its time?
  • In comics, motion is usually reduced to what?

Chapter 5 – Living in Line – pp. 118

  • How are emotions made visible using different cartooning styles?
  • Describe how lines are used to represent both visible and invisible phenomena (pp 128-129)
  • What can backgrounds help show?
  • How can word balloons and lettering help show emotion? Cite specific examples.

Chapter 6 – Show and Tell – pp. 138

  • According to McCloud, children are expected to “combine words and pictures” as long as they do what?
  • Throughout history, what happened between words and images?
  • Of the seven types of picture-word combinations, choose one and tell which is the most interesting to you and why?

 Chapter 7 – The Six Steps – pp. 162

  • Does McCloud considers comics to be art? Why or why not?
  • List the path of creating art (Six Steps)
  • Of the Six Steps of creating Art, which step does the artist decide if it will be a book or painting or song or movie or comic?
  • What is the question that is found at the core of all art?

 Chapter 8 – A Word About Color – pp. 185

  • What are the three colors that when put together reproduce every color on the spectrum?
  • As color was added to newspaper, what two things increased?
  • What types of colors were superheroes printed in?
  • What is communicated more clearly in black and white?
  • Do you think color help add “reality” to comics?

Chapter 9 – Putting It All Together – pp. 195

  • Using the last panel on page 195, describe the process that comics use to transmit ideas from one person to another.
  • In this chapter, McCloud summarizes all of the concepts presented in his book. Choose one and describe why it is interesting to you, or why it still confuses you.
  • What is one major idea that you learned about comics after reading this book?
  • Do you see comics differently now? Why or why not?

Suggestions for further reading