Here it is: The finished product.
There is a lot to talk about in regards to Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, particularly in regards to the role of the reader in comics. From basically the outset, McCloud makes it clear that the role of the reader is far more active than what we might think of readers being, especially when it comes to comics, an art form that’s still so stigmatized that we, as a culture, have decided that comic that doesn’t have superheroes or fantasy is more aptly called a “graphic novel” (see: Maus, Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang, Persepolis or Citizen 13660, all comic books, but all frequently billed as graphic novels instead). It’s also interesting that McCloud shows how collaborative the efforts of comic books are between the artists/writers, but also the creators/consumers.
These readings were by far my favorite so far, though, I must admit, Wysocki and Eilola’s piece far more than Baron helped me to understand and unpack (as “Blinded by the Letter” would say) my understanding of literacy, though I did greatly enjoy reading about the history of pencils.
These readings felt like a continuation of the study of style I got from Advanced Writing last semester, though put much more succinctly and pointfully than anything we did there. The study of the style of a piece, where style means how a piece was placed on the page in relation to its font, its diagrams and images, and the idea that all these things belonged to certain choices and genres of writing was not a new idea.
Both of these readings brought forth some new ideas that I found rather fascinating, either that I hadn’t considered, or had only considered/learned about in passing but never with concentrated focus like that of these articles, or, even better, didn’t yet have names for.
I don’t understand why it took Stanley Fish 20 pages to tell us that there has been a divide between people who trust rhetoric and those who don’t since antiquity (and then, proceeds to pretty much discuss the pro-rhetoric side despite saying he was going to recount the history of this argument as a whole, but whatever) and that the study of rhetoric is important. Perhaps his own rhetorical move is to kill his readers by over-explanation alone so that they never forget the existence of this debate or this study. I certainly won’t forget the growing anger I felt as every section said the same thing but wearing a slightly different outfit. “Things mean different things in different contexts” is essentially the core argument of the rhetoricians Fish is discussing, which, yeah, dudes.