Literature Study GuidesUnderstanding Comics The Invisible Art

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art | Study Guide

Scott McCloud

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Scott McCloud

Year Published






At a Glance

The author introduces the reader to the art of comics in a book that is itself a comic book. The author is depicted as a character in the book, who acts as narrator. His topics include an overview of the history of comics and an examination of the elements that make comics an essential part of American culture.

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art has been translated into over 20 languages. According to an influential encyclopedia of comics known as the Lambiek Comiclopedia, Understanding Comics stands today as "the best publication on the medium to date" and is considered "the most influential study" of the topic since the landmark Comics and Sequential Art and Graphic Storytelling (both published in 1988) by American cartoonist and creator of The Spirit, Will Eisner (1917–2005), whose pen name was Willis Rensie. McCloud continues to expand the capacity of comics to move with the times and technology by encouraging the development of webcomics.

About the Title

Understanding Comics is a personal look at the world of comics authored by an award-winning cartoonist. It is written and illustrated in comic book form. The title might be a nod to Understanding Media (1964), a groundbreaking work by media expert Marshall McLuhan (1911–80) that discusses comics along with film, television, and other media. The subtitle of Understanding Comics, "The Invisible Art," refers to the low status comics have traditionally received when compared to other genres of artistic expression, such as painting, drama, and literature, which have usually been considered higher forms of art until recent years.


This study guide for Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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