Episode 116: Scott McCloud!

November 18, 2007 · Print This Article

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Critic and Curator Jeff Ward joins Duncan and Richard in interviewing Comic theorist, artist, educator and all around kickass guy Scott McCloud.

From Scott McCloud’s website (www.scottmccloud.com)

“At the age of 15, I remember telling my friend Kurt Busiek “I’ve decided to become a professional comic book artist.” It was the Summer between 10th and 11th Grades. My previous decision to become World Chess Champion had proved impractical, but this time I knew I could pull it off and a year and a half out of college, I finally did.

Today, I’m probably best known for:

Understanding Comics. A 215-page comic book about comics that explains the inner workings of the medium and examines many aspects of visual communication along the way. Understanding Comics has done well in stores, is in over 15 languages and, while not universally liked, is about as close to it as I’m ever likely to see. A favorite of interface, game and Web designers despite the fact that it doesn’t mention computers once. (Published 1993).

Reinventing Comics. The controversial 242-page follow-up to U.C. advocates 12 different revolutions in the way comics are created, distributed and perceived with special emphasis on the potential of Online Comics. Nearly every page seemed to step on somebody’s toes, and the debates in the comics industry over comics on the Web have gotten increasingly heated since its publication. Reinventing Comics is the only book I’ve ever written that’s been actually described as “dangerous.” (Published 2000).

My Online Comics. They’re all here (or at least linked to from here). Take a look.

Public Speaking and Teaching. Click to find out more.

Zot!. My first series ran for 36 issues at California’s Eclipse Comics. Though ostensibly a superhero story, Zot! had an alternative flavor and featured some unorthodox storytelling and compositions. “A cross between Peter Pan, Buck Rogers and Marshall McLuhan” is how I usually describe it. (1984-1991)

My Inventions. Over the years, I’ve created a number of strange, comics-related, um… things. Enough that I decided to give them their own section of this site. Check it out.

My Other Comics.Though not numerous, I have done other printed comics including 1985’s Destroy!!, a 12 issue stint writing Superman Adventures, in the mid-90’s, a bizarre and generally disliked graphic novel about Abraham Lincoln, some mini-comics, short pieces, and various comics-style articles in magazines like Wired, Nickelodeon, Computer Gaming World, Wizard and Publishers’ Weekly.

Depending on who you ask, I’m either comics’ leading theorist or a deranged lunatic, but life continues to be very interesting for me and the ideas that I’ve raised continue to provoke reactions throughout the comics community and — increasingly — beyond it. Pick up Understanding Comics (or look for it at your local library) to begin finding out why.”

ALSO: Mark Staff Brandl checks in to review art with his students from the Central European Bureau!

Lastly Duncan and Joanna act wacky and Joanna has some interesting ideas.

Scott McCloud
Jeff Ward
Columbia College
Understanding Comics
Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Jerry Siegel
Joe Shuster
Eddie Campbell
Carnegie Mellon
Alex Ross
Jhonen Vasquez
Art School Confidential
Dan Clowes
Chris Ware
Douglas Wolk
Mark Bell
Art Spiegelman
Joseph Campbell
Chester Gould
Charles Schultz

One Tree Hill
Tracy Taylor
Craig Thompson
Eleanor Davis
Will Eisner
Jack Kirby
Todd McFarlane
Bill Cosby
City of Glass
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
Bryan Lee O’Malley
Hope Larson
Making Comics
Reinventing Comics
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein
Kunstschule Liechtenstein
Rolf Ricke
Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt-am-Main
Kunstmuseum St. Gallen
Roy Lichtenstein
Lust for Life exhibition
Richard Artschwager
Jo Baer
Donald Judd
Barry Le Va
Jasper Johns
Richard Serra
Dan Flavin
David Reed
Jessica Stockholder
Fabian Marcaccio
Ingrid Calame
Carl Ostendarp (Sculpture titled “Make” referred to as “Cowpie”)
Peter Paul Rubens
David Reed on Rubens in Los Vegas
Holger Bunk
Günter Umberg
Peter Young
Lee Lozano
Allan McCollum
Mel Ramos
Eric Fischl
“Tschau Zäme” Swissgerman for “Adios y’all”

Direct download: Bad_at_Sports_Episode_116_Scott_McCloud.mp3

23 thoughts on “Episode 116: Scott McCloud!”

  1. tony fitzpatrick says:

    Some of us thought the Abe Lincoln book was pretty cool and other-worldly in a good way….

  2. Christopher says:

    Rockford files theme? Man Richard all your missing is the Magnum, P.I theme to go along with the A-Team and you have the greatest hits of Mike Post.

  3. Bahl Zack says:

    I also noted the original Battlestar Galactica theme at the end. What was the other 70s sounding bit of music?

  4. Bahl Zack says:

    Whatever happened to Amanda?

  5. Bill Dolan says:

    “What was the other 70s sounding bit of music?”

    I heard the C.H.iP.s theme in there at one point. The part that started with a close-up of the front wheels of the Kawasakis. The camera pulls back, then up to an arial shot of Ponch and John tooling down an L.A. freeway.

    Of course, the Rockford Files theme was in there as well. The theme from McCloud would be an obvious selection, but don’t remember if I heard it or actually remember what it sounded like.

  6. Bahl Zack says:

    Of course how could I forget ponch and john.

  7. Steve Hamann says:

    Wow! That was an episode just for me! Fantastic. I’m interested in the intersection of “fine art” and comics, and BAS does the one two punch on Scott McCloud AND Mark Staff Brandl. Both very well done. You can tell MSB is a teacher, because he does the nice intro and closure, then lets the kids do the talking.

    I’m not one for listening to an episode twice, but I may need to give this one another go.

  8. What great fun to be put together with Scott McCloud, with whom I have occasionally emailed about “theory”! Hi Scott! I use his first book a lot in various classes. The students are thrilled, by the way. Thanks. I’ll listen to it all with them this week. By the way, Tony and Mike were a GREAT team last week. I just didn’t have time to comment, too much activity here.

  9. Richard says:

    Contrary to my accusations Duncan and Joanna were *not* high when they recorded the intro and outro. The whole Bad at Sports Galactica thing made me suspicious, I’d prepped an intervention.

  10. duncan says:

    As you know Richard I’m ardently against Joanna and I breaking the law. So, yes, counter to your accusations neither of us get “high.”


    PS. Joey is working on a script. You should see who she has cast as a Cylon.

  11. Richard says:


    I as the rest of the BAS community know that you are as pure as the driven snow.


  12. WONDERFUL interview with Scott, you guys. Fun and insightful, in turns. I like the BAS Galactica idea. I want to be the original Lorne Greene character, but dressed as he was in Ponderosa. Maybe with more leather and less pants, if Joanna is going to dress so hot.

  13. I clicked too soon and couldn’t finish my comments … and the editing function refused to help …so ………

    Richard, you and I have GOT to talk comics sometime. I’m addicted too. Did you ever read the Gene Colon book, where I did the afterword? (http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&EAN=9781893905450&itm=1)

    I’d love to do an interview with C. hill sometime about his “new category” of comics idea we discussed at CAA once, “gallery comics,” the cross of comics and installation, etc. It will be preseented in the upcoming Journal of Popular Culture Studies. It would be a good complement to the McCloud discussion — about the only comics development he didn’t analyze yet! (Self plug — my speech here talks about it somewhat: (http://www.markstaffbrandl.com/CAA/CAA_brandl_pcv.html).

    Again — GREAT job with Scott. One of my favorites on BAS. My bit with students wasn’t as deep, but I hope enjoyable and they worked hard, especially on the English.

  14. Richard says:

    Mark, the link was cut off, e-mail it to me and I will pick up a copy.

    Next time you are in town we will need to get some beer and chat.

    I have become wildly addicted to comics (I like the complete obsessive anality of the hobby) since the Bar Exam, where I picked up a few issues in the hopes of reading something that didn’t depress me.

  15. Bowl Sack says:

    On an unrelated note, why ever did BAS stop making fun of, pestering, and otherwise agitating Scott Speh, he gets nary a mention these days? Did something happen?

  16. AND whatever happened to Hello Beautiful?

  17. Bowl Sack says:

    Lifson left, NPR was too f-ing cheap to do anything decent with it, it went down the toilet. Once again Chicago Public Radio shits the proverbial bed.

    I was certain that BAS would be included somehow as they are the only real art reporting in Chicago.

  18. I think there was a sinkhole in the comics community in the late 90’s. Fantagraphic and Kitchen Sink…
    “Seattle was a big thing in the 90’s”

  19. I Saw A Paper Rad comic today…thats a whole package!…

  20. duncan. says:

    Russell Maycumber’s posts confuse me. But Seattle was big in the indie comic scene in the 90’s

    Sacky, I think that Chicago Public Radio does not want to give up what they have built with the brand of “Hello Beautiful.” And I think rightly acknowledges that we are not going to fill the Edward Lifson spot. I think one day they will radically revisit what there art coverage is for but only when the decide that their audience for arts coverage might be wider then the board of the MCA and AIC. But not until then. Why they have chosen not to also try and service the younger aspects of the art culture here is beyond me. Maybe they feel like they threw us all a bone with “Sound Opinions.”

    And I love Scott Speh. I don’t care who knows it!

  21. Honoré de Balzac says:

    You should repost that pic with him looking like satan. That was awesome.

  22. Christopher says:

    Here this is as close as I can get with Joey’s BaS A-Team wish…

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