Yow! Comics chronicler coming to town

Scott McCloud explores America and the graphic arts

Posted: Friday, June 01, 2007

At home, Scott McCloud has a "very, very large to-be-read pile" of mini-comics, manga, fanzines and graphic novels.

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When life is simpler, the father of two tries to set aside at least 40 minutes each morning to read comics. But having been on the road for the last seven months, he's fallen behind.

"Unfortunately, because we live in our car, we can't take too much merchandise," McCloud said. "If anyone in Alaska is reading this, and is considering giving us any Ming vases or large papier mache elephants, I may be giving you a P.O. box in California."

McCloud, one of the most esteemed analysts of comics in the country, will stop in Juneau next week to deliver two presentations on comics as an art form and a storytelling medium. Alaska is stop No. 40 on his "Making Comics 50 State Tour."

He and his family left by car in Sept. 2006 and are expecting to arrive in their final state, Nevada, sometime in late August.

Comic guru

Who: Scott McCloud, graphic novelist.

More: www.scottmccloud.com.

7-9 p.m. Thursday, June 7: Presentation on "Exploring Art Through Comics" and book signing. Open to all ages, at the Back Room at the Silverbow Inn. Pick up free tickets at any of the public libraries. Any remaining tickets will be left at the door. Donations accepted.

1-4 p.m. Saturday, June 9: Artist workshop at the Douglas Library on the process of sequential art for teens and adults. Registration is required. Call Carol at 586-0434.

You can read their tour blog entries at www.scottmccloud.com/makingcomics/tour.html.

"All over the country you'll find things like the nation of manga, or the nation of mini-comics or the nation of graphic novels," McCloud said. "But there are also some things that are affected by region.

"There's nothing quite like the Detroit mini-comic scene," he said. "There's a certain energy to Chicago. The Savannah School of Art and Design is a world unto itself."

McCloud grew up in Lexington, Mass., and decided to become a professional comic book artist when he was 15. A year later, he and friends created a black-and-white comic, "Pow! Biff! Pops!" which was eventually screened during the Boston Pops Orchestra's opening night.

McCloud continued drawing superhero comics and fanzines and earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts at Syracuse University. He graduated in 1982 and went to work for the production department at DC Comics. The next year he left DC and began writing his first series, "Zot!" for Eclipse Comics. It ran for 36 issues.

Since then, he's created countless comics. He's also well-known for the books "Understanding Comics," "Reinventing Comics" and the latest, "Making Comics."

"I'm interested in all forms of comics these days," McCloud said. "I think some things are more vital than others. I'm sad to say that the newspaper comics page, while there are some inspired people working at it, is a sad place. But the graphic novel scene is very lively. As are Web comics and manga."

McCloud's fast-paced presentations include slide shows of more than 700 images. He talks about framing, storyboards, choosing words and images, creating character and environment, and the complex universe of genres.

"The presentation includes examples of virtually any kind of comic you can imagine: comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, Web comics, European comics," McCloud said. "I try to reflect my own interests, which pretty much cover the map. So if you're a Calvin and Hobbes fan who's never even heard of Maus, there still might be something in my presentation that you'll recognize."

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