October 8, 2012

Simple Cartooning

In McCloud's "Vocabulary of Comics," he discusses how cartooning has a special way of allowing the reader or observer to become the comic. The idea that cartoons are simplified down to their basic core appearance allows the audience to identify with the character and become one with the cartoon. Before he gets to his main point of discussing the concept of cartoons and their power, he first clears some things up with basic definitions of terms, to make things more understandable for his audience.

His first "vocabulary" term is icon. He states that an icon is "any image used to represent a person, place, thing or idea" (pg 27). Under icon, there are many other sub-categories, one of them being symbols. These are the images that are used to represent concepts, ideas and philosophies. There are also different icons of language, science, and communication. These are the practical icons. Another category of icons are pictures, which are "images designed to actually resemble their subjects" (pg 27). He goes on to say that with pictures, meaning is "fluid and variable" according to appearance; they differ from actual real life appearance to varying degrees. By listing these vocabulary terms, McCloud is able to educate the audience with ideas that are relevant to his main subject: Cartooning.

McCoud reveals that he believes cartoons hold their power in their simplicity. His way of putting it is that "amplification through simplification" strips down an image to its essential meaning so "an artist can amplify that meaning in a way that realistic art can't" (pg 30). This is interesting because I feel that usually, people stress the details in works of art, or even writing. But what McCloud is saying is that simplicity allows the imagination to do all the work, it allows the reader to fill in the blanks with their own identity so that it becomes more personal. It "focuses our attention" (pg 30) into ourselves as the cartoon. Ong was also a proponent of this idea that presence matters for the audience. The audience must be present in the text, which is what this simplification of ideas and images allows.


Victoria said...

I really like your comment at the end where you brought in Ong and the presence of the audience in the text. It was a connection I had not quiet made before, despite having talked about reader self-insertion in my own post.

Jenny said...

The concept of "amplification through simplification" is one that actually makes sense. Art is what we make of it. Art is created by the artist and interpreted by the audience. Leaving a cartoon as simple as possible leaves more room for imagination for the audience and the story, plot, and development of the character. These simple drawings allow for the audience to explore their own creativity. It is interesting that such creativity develops from the readers and audience of cartoons as well as the artist. It is a difficult task to create an image for a story line that will interest an audience, yet still allow them to create something more of it.

Yes, it is true that in most of cases of "art", people lock in details and specific images. But, in the case of cartoons, I think it is a little bit different. Art is all about interpretation, cartoons are considered art, but cartoons are also a form of entertainment and an escape, story, or creation of a new world for most people. With this capability of creating a whole new world for people to live through, it allows for more of an expansion of their imagination. Especially when the whole picture is created for them.

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