Superhero scribe Scott McCloud to speak on Ball State campus
The Daily News
“I decided when I was about 15 years old to be a comic book artist,” McCloud said.
He got his start in the industry after an assignment in a design class required him to design a résumé and send to a potential employer. McCloud decided to send it to DC Comics and received a position in the production department.
“It was a simple job,” he said. “But one of the important things was that it took away any of the magic, which was a really good thing because I understood that this was the kind of thing I could imagine making myself. I could see very clearly what it took to make a piece of comic book art.”
Less than two years later, McCloud quit his job at DC Comics after pitching an original comic to an independent publisher. From that point on at the age of 23, he began his career of making comics.
Thirty years later, McCloud has published original comics like “Zot!” as well as theoretical texts, such as “Understanding Comics,” and commercial comics including one for Google Chrome. He is working on a graphic novel.
Out of all of his works, McCloud expressed that his proudest achievement would be “Understanding Comics.” He described it as a “comic book about comics,” which came out of the ideas he had about how comics worked.
“It’s a 200-page long nonfiction comic explaining what happens when our minds encounter these pictures in sequence,” he said. “There is a lot of potential for this art form, but the best way to discover that potential was to look at it as you would study something scientifically.”
This book has been translated into about 16 languages and is used by several different industries outside of the graphic narrative.
Amit Baishya, an English assistant professor, teaches several courses about comic books and has used McCloud’s theoretical books in his instruction.
“The students begin with a simple comic strip,” he said. “When they read McCloud’s text, they start to see more and gain understanding about complex topics.”
As the first speaker in the inaugural Marilyn K. Cory Speaker Series, McCloud will speak at 7:30 tonight in the Art and Journalism Building Room 175.
Debora Mix, an English associate professor, invited McCloud to speak in order to start off the series, which is named after a Ball State alumna who donated money to the department.
This presentation is the first of what will be an annual lecture series, beginning with this year’s comic-themed talks.
“I wanted to do a series on graphic narrative because it could draw in other people who don’t normally come to English department speakers,” Mix said. “And it would appeal to those outside Ball State.”
Mix said she chose McCloud because she is familiar with his work and impressed with his theories about visual rhetoric.
“I hope that McCloud encourages us to think more deeply about the way visual rhetoric works and the value of comic books,” she said.
For this talk, English instructor Eva Snider will introduce McCloud.
“I love how he boils extremely complex concepts into something simple,” she said. “His line work is amazing. He has a great sense of humor and his comics are really well drawn and well written.”
McCloud said he plans to discuss everything from medium and visual communication to the relationship between art and technology.
“McCloud is not just an artist, but also a philosopher about comic books, and what he says can be applied to all forms of narratives,” Baishya said. “If people come to listen to McCloud’s talk, they will be hearing a thinker in action.”
Next on the agenda for the Marilyn K. Cory Speaker Series is Christina Blanch, a Ball State doctoral student, who will host a presentation at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4 in the David Letterman Communication and Media Building Room 125.