Scott McCloud's Reinventing Comics, the sequel to his groundbreaking work Understanding Comics, is a study of two revolutions: a failed one and a potential one. His 1993 book was not only a chronicle of the potential breakthrough of comics (which he redefined as "sequential art") into a legitimate art form but a sterling example itself of the medium's astonishing untapped potential. Now, seven years later, he chronicles the failure of the comic book industry to fulfill that promise, but also explores how the movement can be restarted, particularly by utilizing the resources of another spectacularly successful revolution, the Internet. In the first half of Reinventing Comics, an elegantly clean example of comic art in McCloud's trademark bold black-and-white style, the author outlines how hype, speculation, and artistic burnout led to the genre's decline. He then lays out 12 paths toward a new revolution of comics, including creators' rights, industry innovation, public perception, gender balance, and diversity of genre, which are then explored with such innovative intelligence that, as with his earlier work, the conclusions he comes to are fascinating for both artists and nonartists alike.
Three of his paths, however, are of particular interest to anyone who wants to know how the Internet will affect both our lives and the livelihoods of future artists. Understanding Comics, with its brilliant how-to guide on marrying image and language, has become an indispensable reference for many Web designers. Now McCloud returns the favor by focusing on how the digital revolution will influence production, delivery, and the art form of comics itself. Informative without being pedantic, controversial without being argumentative, and always entertaining, this is both a worthy sequel to the author's brilliant original and a work that opens up the potential for an entirely different direction for sequential art in the realm of cyberspace. --John Longenbaugh [via]