What are some of the points that Scott McCloud makes about “icons”? Discuss some of the ways in which the realist image and the iconic image operate differently in creating pictorial meaning. Give an example and analyze it, using McCloud’s terms.
• Scott states there are different categories of icons.
• Symbols – Nazi sign, American flag, Exxon gas station sign
• Language, science and communication – the letter of the alphabet, a music note symbol, the dollar sign
• Pictures – images of an apple, bat and hand
• He also states that icons represent real life objects on different levels.
• Highest Level - photographs
• Next is – realistic picture
• Next lower level – abstract drawings
• Lowest Level – most simplified abstract cartoon
• Ways the realistic image and the iconic image operate differently:
• Most simplistic iconic image –
• Simplifies things so that we can just focus on the action, and not all the details that make up the realistic image.
• Simplified things are easier to understand, to get to the point faster, and to see the whole picture from point A to Z.
• In a simplified image, it is easier to concentrate on the message, and not the messenger as in a realistic image as McCloud states.
McCloud says in Understanding Comics, Chap 2, page 30, “When we abstract an image through cartooning we’re not so much eliminating details as we are focusing on specific details.”
• The same cartoon can be used to describe multiple people unlike a real photograph. Your mind is satisfied with allowing you to see and recognize a cartoon as a face, although your mind knows it is not a ‘real’ face. McCloud is also saying that we don’t want someone else to tell us about a story, but that we want to be the story. He states, “A cartoon is just the little voice inside our head. A little piece of you. A concept.” On page 31, he states, “The fact that your mind is capable of taking a circle, two dots and a line and turning them into a face is nothing short of incredible! But still more incredible is the fact that you cannot avoid seeing a face here. Your mind won’t let you!” And last on page 36, He declares, “Thus, when you look at a photo or realistic drawing of a face----you see it as a face of another. But when you enter the world of the cartoon----you see yourself”.