Reading Notes on Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Notes on Understanding Comics

The following are some random notes in reading Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics.

Scott's official website

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art Buy at amazon

This book is largely a analysis on the nature and form of comics, with a brief exploration of its history.

First, he defines what is comics. Namely, that of Sequential Art.

Maus Buy at amazon

Maus (1972), is a holocaust memoir written in the form of comics. By Art Spiegelman (born 1948). Maus won a Pulitzer Prize Special Award.

Notes on Reinventing Comics

The following are some random notes in reading Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics sequel: Reinventing Comics.

reinventing comics Scott McCloud
Reinventing Comics Buy at amazon

Chapter 2: Negativeland: The Business of Comics

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (born 1984) started out as a random mocking crotchet, and by happenstance became a instant mega hit that made its creators: Kevin Eastman (born 1962), Peter Laird (born 1954), millionaires.

It spurred a era of comics speculation by investors and growth of comics.

There is a The Creator's Bill of Rights At, as a attempt to put more power to artist than comics corporations.

Chapter 3: Community Standards: The View From Outside

A opportunistic moralist moron: Fredric Wertham (1895 to 1981).

Dr. Fredric Wertham (March 20, 1895 to November 29, 1981) was a German-American psychiatrist and crusading author who protested the purportedly harmful effects of mass media—comic books in particular—on the development of children. His best-known book was Seduction of the Innocent (1954), which led to a U.S. Congressional inquiry into the comic book industry and the creation of the Comics Code.

Comics Code Authority Seal
Comics Code Authority Seal

The ignorance and persecution of the masses based on moral psychology lead to the creation of: Comics Code Authority Comics Code Authority, which are basically self-censorship by the mainstream comics industry.

William Gaines, the publisher of EC Comics, which eventually become the publisher of Mad (magazine).

Reed Waller, creator of Omaha The Cat Dancer (1986), has been a victim of moralists's obscenity charges.

Edouard Manet  Olympia 57370 s

Olympia (1863), by Edouard Manet (1832 to 1883). This painting arose a brouhaha among moralists in its time.

Mike Diana, a underground artist persecuted by the moralists and convicted of obscenity.

logo with a eagle
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (, was created to fend off mass ignorance and censorship that can check comic's growth.

Ariel Dorfman (born 1942) and Armand Matterlart wrote How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic . She also wrote Death and the Maiden (play), which made into a film. Buy at amazon (i haven't read the play but the film is excellent!) The subject of the film is about sex torture and confession.

Other interesting items, most are mentioned in the book: