Paging through Scott McCloud’s wizardly Understanding Comics, you might think the graphic novelist was building on a foundation of comics theory — standing on the shoulders of giants, as it were. Not so: Until he published it, the critical field hardly existed, which makes his tome, packed with enough insight to launch a graduate program, all the more remarkable. He also did the book in comics form, visually representing his themes in a way that literary theorists could only imagine and insanely compounding his work. The book caused a stir, and McCloud kept the industry unsettled with the equally impressive Reinventing Comics in 2000, which took on the future of the form. Last year he released Making Comics, in which he finally spilled the secrets of his craft for the lowly artist, such as what to put in panels, how to guide the reader’s eyes, and matching words and images. Basically, it’s all the nitty-gritty John Gardner Art of Fiction stuff that you didn’t think graphic novelists had to worry about.
In between, McCloud has been logging time on the lecture circuit, visiting such institutions as Harvard, Microsoft, and Pixar, by which we mean to say: The man can hold a crowd. To celebrate Making Comics, he’s been doing a tour that appreciates his obsessive-compulsive work ethic, working through all 50 states, and a few countries, over the course of a year.
Wed., Aug. 22, 6:30 p.m.