Understanding Comics

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Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
Cover of the original Tundra Publishing edition of Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
Author Scott McCloud
Country United States
Language English
Subject Comics
Genre Comics
Publication date
Pages 215
Followed by Reinventing Comics

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art is a 1993 non-fiction work of comics by American cartoonist Scott McCloud.[1] It explores formal aspects of comics, the historical development of the medium, its fundamental vocabulary, and various ways in which these elements have been used.[2] It expounds theoretical ideas about comics as an artform and medium of communication.[3]

Understanding Comics received praise from notable comic and graphic novel authors such as Art Spiegelman, Will Eisner, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Garry Trudeau (who reviewed the book for the New York Times).[citation needed] Although the book has prompted debate over many of McCloud’s conclusions,[4] its discussions of "iconic" art and the concept of "closure" between panels have become common reference points in discussions of the medium.[5][6]

Publication history[edit]

Understanding Comics was first published by Tundra Publishing; reprintings have been released by Kitchen Sink Press, DC Comics' Paradox Press, DC's Vertigo line, and HarperPerennial. The book was edited by Mark Martin, with lettering by Bob Lappan. The title of Understanding Comics is an homage to Marshall McLuhan's seminal 1964 work Understanding Media.





McCloud has followed up Understanding Comics with Reinventing Comics (2000), in which he suggested ways for the medium to change and grow; and Making Comics (2006), a study of methods of constructing comics.[citation needed]

Awards and honors[edit]

The book was a finalist for the 1994 Hugo Award for Best Non-Fiction Book.


The book was called "one of the most insightful books about designing graphic user interfaces ever written" by Apple Macintosh co-creator Andy Hertzfeld.[citation needed][undue weight? ]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brooks, Kevin (2009). "More "Seriously Visible" Reading: McCloud, McLuhan, and the Visual Language of "The Medium Is the Massage"". College Composition and Communication 61 (1). Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  2. ^ Varnum, Robin; Gibbons, Christina T (2007). The Language of Comics: Word and Image. University Press of Mississippi. pp. xiii, xiv, 147. ISBN 1578064147. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  3. ^ Manning, A.D. (March 1998). "Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (article)". IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication 41 (1): 66–69. doi:10.1109/TPC.1998.661632. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  4. ^ Horrocks, Dylan. "Inventing Comics: Scott McCloud's Definition of Comics" The Comics Journal #234 (June 2001).
  5. ^ Brenner, Robin (March–April 2006). "Graphic novels 101: where to start.". The Horn Book Guide 82 (2): 240. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  6. ^ Magnussen, Anne; Christiansen, Hans-Christian (2000). Comics & Culture: Analytical and Theoretical Approaches to Comics. Museum Tusculanum Press. pp. 13, 14, 23, 49. ISBN 9788772895802. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 

External links[edit]