Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art

4.6 18
by Scott McCloud

See All Formats & Editions

The bestselling international classic on storytelling and visual communication

"You must read this book."  Neil Gaiman

Praised throughout the cartoon industry by such luminaries as Art Spiegelman, Matt Groening, and Will Eisner, Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics is a seminal examination of comics art:


The bestselling international classic on storytelling and visual communication

"You must read this book."  Neil Gaiman

Praised throughout the cartoon industry by such luminaries as Art Spiegelman, Matt Groening, and Will Eisner, Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics is a seminal examination of comics art: its rich history, surprising technical components, and major cultural significance. Explore the secret world between the panels, through the lines, and within the hidden symbols of a powerful but misunderstood art form.

Editorial Reviews

Neil Gaiman
“If you read, write, teach or draw comics; if you want to; or if you simply want to watch a master explainer at work, you must read this book.”
Alison Bechdel
“McCloud’s masterwork is not just an indispensable treatise on comics, it’s also the best primer around on visual literacy and the mechanics of storytelling. A must-read for anyone interested in narrative of any kind.”
Art Spiegelman
“Cleverly disguised as an easy-to-read comic book, Scott McCloud’s simple-looking tome deconstructs the secret language of comics while casually revealing secrets of time, space, art and the cosmos! The most intelligent comics I’ve seen in a long time. Bravo.”
Raina Telgemeier
“Reading Understanding Comics blew my teenage mind, and gave me a toolbox full of ideas that I still use today.”
Alan Moore
“The best analysis of the medium that I have ever encountered.”
Will Eisner
“BRAVO!! ... A landmark dissection and intellectual consideration of comics as a valid medium. ... Anyone interested in this literary form must read it.”
Library Journal
★ 02/01/2016
McCloud recounts his introduction to comics in the form of a comic, tracing the history of the medium; situating it among media theory, film, and web design; and explaining how its practitioners create meaning.
James Gurney
McCloud is the McLuhan of comics.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This is a rare and exciting work that ingeniously uses comics to examine the medium itself. McCloud (who wrote a comic-book series called Zot! ) conducts a genial, well-researched and funny tour of virtually every historical and perceptual aspect of comics, which he calls ``sequential art,'' that is, art that consists of sequences of words and pictures. Beginning in the 11th century with the Bayeux tapestry, he examines pre-Columbian picture languages and the printing press, presenting a quick survey of the historical development of early sequential pictures into the specialized visual language of comics. But it's McCloud's accessible and quite amusing discussion of realism, abstraction and visual perception that forms the heart of this survey. He dissects the vocabulary of the medium, cheerfully analyzing the psychological power of comics and their central role in our ultra-visual culture. McCloud attempts to place comics within the tradition of serious western art. His black-and-white drawings are a delight, ranging from simplified cartoons to parodies of classic comics and fine art, all the while manifesting every theory and comics trend discussed. (July)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.75(w) x 10.25(h) x 0.58(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

What People are Saying About This

James Gurney
"McCloud is the McLuhan of comics."
Will Eisner
"A landmark dissection and intellectual consideration of comics as a valid medium."

Meet the Author

Scott McCloud has been writing, drawing, and examining comics since 1984. Winner of the Eisner and Harvey awards, his works have been translated into more than sixteen languages. Frank Miller (Sin City, 300) called him "just about the smartest guy in comics." He lives with his family in southern California. His online comics and inventions can be found at scottmccloud.com.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Major_Kelly More than 1 year ago
McCloud has written a perfect primer on the nature of art itself. How does art work? What is art? How do artists make artistic choices? What are the limits of art? How do you tell a story? McCloud's book is a fascinating primer. It would make a good textbook for an Art 101 class.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Scott McCloud is thorough in his research, elevating comics from their misconceived 'rubbish' to their rightful respect of 'juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence.' It broadens the minds, while discouraging empty unoriginal creations. The book included: how our ancestors enjoyed comics, how it grew to be what it was 'termed', why there is such a strong bond between the reader and the abstract story on whatever medium, what happens in between the panels and how time is viewed, techniques used to fully live in the moment, how one goes about creating comics, and how they fit. It wasn't enough just to talk about comics. Scott McCloud let us enjoy them through the entire book as references, examples and in whatever sentence throughout the book. I highly recommend it. Not for comic addicts but for people with limited attention span, and those who need to break out of the typical book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. McCloud's ability to frame the history of both visual and written communication, and the potential for them to be used in tandem to create rewarding aesthetic and synesthetic experiences not found in any other art form, is nothing short of a brilliant accomplishment. This dissertation is disguised as a 'comic book', but don't be fooled! I wish this title had been required reading when I was in 'art skool'. IMHO, it would be especially insightful reading for those currently practicing, or aspiring to a career in art history and/or art criticism. From a creative's perspective, this work will bring hope and validation to those thousands of artists marginalized by the elitist ( and the general public's) thinking that 'comix' are the lowest form of art. With clarity, depth, and brevity this book should be on the shelf of anyone interested in the arts, as long as their ego is in check! :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
This isn't your normal book. In fact, it's really a comic book. Which makes sense when you consider that it's a book trying to explain the art of comics. So you know, I read a lot of comics. After peaking volume-wise a couple year ago I have been reading fewer of them, but that doesn't mean that I still don't read a good number of them. I'm an adult, though, and I sometimes have a hard time explaining to people why I read comics. Do I like the art? Yes. Do I like the stories? Yes. (If I didn't, I wouldn't read them; I don't just collect the things) But it's the combination of the two that so captivates me, and it is this combination that Mr. McCloud gets into here. This book covers a lot of ground, discussing differences in styles among creators, the difference between iconic drawings and realistic drawings, the history of comics (in a very broad sense) dating back to ancient Aztec and Egyptian drawings, and so on. There were a number of things covered in the book that I had already figured out on my own, but there was at least as much, if not more, that were new revelations. I especially liked the comparisons between American, European, and Japanese comic traditions, and the things that affected each different (superior color printing in Europe, the lack of individual focus in Japanese comics, etc.). If you like comics, this book will help you gain a better understanding of the arts involved. If you think comics are 'just for kids,' this book will help you see that there is much more out there than you are aware of. That doesn't mean that the comics you come across aren't aimed at kids, but that isn't the only possible use of the medium.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book covers so much intellectual ground, and does it so clearly, so eloquently, and so entertainingly that I truly believe it should be a must-read for anyone entering the 'Visual Arts' field, either as a patron or as a creator. 'Understanding Comics' doesn't JUST discuss comics.. in elucidating the hows, whys, and wherefores of the 'comic book art form', it covers cubism, ancient cave drawings, and many of the authors personal experiences with the visual arts in general. It somehow manages to tie all these elements into a coherent WHOLE explaining exactly WHY comic books are one of the BEST methods of storytelling available to the individual artist, and what advantages and disadvantages comics have relative to it's two closest art forms, painting and literature. BUY MULTIPLE COPIES. Read one, give the others away to friends and family. I HAVE. :-)
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you read comics, you should read this. If you create comics, you MUST read this. No exceptions!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is one of the best i have ever read. I never knew history could be so interesting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An excellent book both for the veteran in comics, for those just starting and even for people who don't have an interest (but have friends who do). What better way to describe comics, the art, the history, the culture etc than to display it in that very media. Visually acute and theoretically intriguing.
Sydneyy_Beth More than 1 year ago
If you like comics or graphic novels (or whatever you want to call them!!) this book is an interesting read! McCloud goes into detail about his thoughts on how to read and understand comics -- giving tons of information you might not realize on your own!
Thorne2112 More than 1 year ago
This comic book is actually read like a documentary; a documentary about what stitches every single comic book together (physically and metaphysically).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeqKnoir More than 1 year ago
My friend had been trying to get me to read this book for about two years. I finally did and its become my favorite recommendation for those who want to learn about art appreciation in general. Thorough, entertaining, and surprising in its ability to grant new perspective to a field that many presume they already understand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago