There were a lot of interesting concepts covered in “Understanding Comics”. I’m not sure how knowing these concepts would help in reading comics but nonetheless I’m glad I know these things.
Probably the most interesting thing for me was when McCloud talked about how he simplified/cartoonified himself for the book to make it not distracting to the viewer. He showed a more fleshed out version of himself in one panel, and my mind immediately started wondering who he was and started focusing on him rather than the text. I think his simple version of himself is very effective, except for one thing that has bugged me throughout the entire book (and in his second book “Making Comics”) is that he doesn’t give himself a neck or any indication of a collar for his shirt. I think adding one in would have been a good choice.
I enjoyed reading his study on the differences in western and eastern comics and how eastern comics go at a slower pace because that’s more how their culture is. I find this in films as well. If you watch any Miyazaki film, such as Ponyo, you will see this. As a Westerner it gets difficult for me to endure these types of stories. I want everything quick. This has always been a problem for me with comics and graphic novels actually; I hurry through them as fast as possible so I can find out what happens.
The book was an OK read, but from what I’ve read of “Making Comics”(a decent portion of it) I think that is a more successful book if you want to understand comics.