Panel discussions

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Scott McCloud spends the first part of his latest book stating the obvious and the second talkin’ all out his haid. This is not a bad thing. In this sequel to the essential Understanding Comics, McCloud suggests 12 “revolutions” are necessary to ensure the future vitality of comics. The first nine concern gaining acknowledgment of comics’ status as art, rethinking detrimental industry practices and diversifying the subject mater and the talent pool comics draw upon. They’re all sensible prescriptions for any art form trying to stay relevant into the new millennium, and if they strike some fans and creators as self-evident, it’s still good to see them laid down in black-and-white. (That implementing them will be an uphill struggle is clear from publisher DC’s snarky disclaimer to the book.)

The other three “revolutions” involve McCloud’s latest passion, producing and distributing comics on computers. He foresees comics encountering the same problems on the Web that music has — who gets paid and how, separation of content from traditional forms, etc. But McCloud also mistakes novelties like Photoshop filters and Web-based presentation tricks for storytelling innovations, while admitting that current technology makes reading comics on computers awkward at best. His predictions are meeting with skepticism from some of the comics literati; still, only a complete curmudgeon would entirely dismiss them. Twenty years from now, for better or worse, we may very well be reading funnybooks on our Palm Pilots. Until then, Reinventing Comics is another must-have stack of paper for any comics enthusiast.

Sean Bieri is the design director for Metro Times. E-mail him at sbieri@metrotimes.com.

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