“Understanding Comics – the invisible art” by Scott McCloud

Doing presentations on a regular basis, I always look for ways to improve the way I can transmit my message. While reading a magazine the other day, I saw a comment about the book called “Understanding Comics – the invisible art” by Scott McCloud.

At first, it might sound unrelated, but both comics and presentations share some common ideas and there are quite a few things that can be learned from the story-telling of this sometimes considered “lesser” art-form.

Technorati Tags: , ,

The first great thing is that this is a comic book about comics, having Scott McCloud use the medium to explain it… almost like having a slide show to learn how to create presentations. Throughout this book, you discover the various elements that constitute “sequential art”, to quote the simplest definition of comics. Going through the vocabulary, the gutter, time, using color and the six steps (idea, form, idiom, structure, craft and surface), this book is very insightful to better understand the structure and “science” of comics from around the world, why and how they work, and simply go beyond looking at them as a series of drawings in little boxes.

But now back to the reason why I picked-up this book in the first place: How does this apply to presentations? Assuming that you don’t believe in slides that are including extensive bullet-point text with a 12pt Times New Roman font, and that you don’t over-use transitions, you certainly noticed the similitude between comics and presentations. Both use images, text and color to transmit a message, both are based on a sequence of frames (e.g. the slides) and both progress through time. OK, comics usually are bound to hand-drawn (some artists such as Jean-Louis Boccar or Pascal Sibertin sometimes use Corel Painter on their computer) while presentations rely a lot more on photos, but that’s simply because most of the time, public speakers aren’t the best at drawing. Therefore learning from comics to apply to the repertoire of tools for the presentation “story-telling” know-how does make sense.

I won’t go in further detail in this blog posting about the book in itself. If you are serious about presentations, if you are interested in becoming a comic author, or if you simply want to better understand the mechanics used behind the scene when reading your favorite Hergé created adventure, then this is work a read.