Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Q: After reading the two McCloud pieces, how do you think McCloud views comics as visually rhetorical?

A: I think McCloud presents a good case for why comics can be just as rhetorical (or perhaps moreso) than ordinary text. In the first piece, he talks about how adding a level of visual abstraction allows the author to more purposefully convey a rhetorical message. He also talks about how the reader can impose himself into the cartoon or comic through abstraction. Showing how a person goes from a realistic photo to a smiley face that we still recognize as a human face demonstrates how we tend to impose our own identity on everything. This allows us to subconsciously identify with the drawn image.

The second piece talks about how the nature of images and text have changed over time, grown away from one another, and then grown back together in the form of comics. In this piece, it is clear that the author is biased towards the comic medium, and is making an argument to back up the claim that comics are a valid form of rhetorical communication. My feeling is that he is correct that images and words can be combined to effectively communicate a rhetorical message, but I also feel that there's the obvious question of how seriously we should take this medium in today's society. In common usage, the comic is used primarily for comic books as well as political cartoons. Comics books, while popular, (in my opinion) tend to be vacuous jaunts into unrealistic superhuman escapist fantasies, and have very little value outside of pure mindless entertainment (though I will admit to some exceptions that intentionally try to make the reader think, or at least challenge conventions. Works such as Persepolis, The Watchmen, or Maus fit my definition of quality despite the medium). Political comics, on the other hand, are typically intended to be funny, amusing, and make people think about the author's message. I find them to be somewhat more relevant, though they still shy away from seriously addressing issues and instead poke fun at the political events of the day.

So to say that I'm not a huge fan of the comic medium would be an accurate assessment, though I do feel that it can be quite effective on the rare instances when it is intentionally used for maximum relevancy and impact.

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