What Makes the Art Sequential?

"Being in a sequence," you're probably saying to yourself after reading that title.

I posted this on Flickr recently:
Sequential Art?

So... is it comics?

A few nights ago at the house of someone who's work I'm editing I was reacquainted with my Bard College senior project. I'd e-mailed it to her on request months ago and she printed it out. I wrote over two years ago:
"In his ground-breaking book with a textbook approach to explaining comics, Comics and Sequential Art, Will Eisner defined comics immediately as “the arrangement of pictures or images and words to narrate a story or dramatize an idea” but then far more simply as “Sequential Art” (Eisner 5) i.e. visual art in sequence. Scott McCloud followed Eisner’s lead in his own Understanding Comics when he put forth his suggestion for a dictionary definition of comics: “juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer” (McCloud 9) and continued in the following pages of Understanding Comics to demonstrate how his definition broadened the world of comics both historically (McCloud 10-17) and artistically (McCloud 18-20) by demonstrating that many things were comics, simply because many things had not appeared to be comics by old, restrictive perceptions. This thesis borrows McCloud’s definition, attempting to simplify it nearer to Eisner’s compact version, synthesizing them to: visual art in deliberate sequence to create meaning. McCloud’s “juxtaposed” is the first to go as there are several kinds of juxtaposition in comics (left to right panels, top to bottom panels, pages left to right) and not all are key to the medium, McCloud’s “pictorial and other images” falls under the umbrella of “visual art”, McCloud’s “deliberate sequence” is the most important part of his definition, as images in sequence are to be found in a few cases that are not comics but not in deliberate order, and is thus retained exactly, and McCloud’s “convey information and/or produce an aesthetic response in the viewer” can be summed up as the creation of informational/aesthetic “meaning.” Simpler, more concise, and more accurate: visual art in deliberate sequence."
Putting images into a sequence. Is it enough?

~ @JonGorga


  1. Or if you prefer, the old argument we've had: Is 'comics' and 'sequential art' synonymous?

    Because I've started to agree with you.

  2. I guess I would hesitate to call it either: its pretty clearly not "comics" and, although it is sequential, it hardly seems like art.

  3. Oh, can you say that? Is art in the judgment? To me art is anything designed to make meaning happen.

    But I've seen the main idea (for years anyway) of what makes comics, comics was sequence. One image plus one intentionally following image = comics. But now I'm not so sure. Words like 'following' and 'sequence' could imply space OR time, including things like animation and film. So comics is spatially sequential art. Maybe the element Scott McCloud described as 'juxtaposed' is more important than or equally important to the 'sequential' element.

    The three images of Jennifer Aniston are spatially juxtaposed and in an intended sequence. It might not be comics, but it has to be sequential art. It has to be something different from photography just as film is.

    I've got a discussion on two fronts as I've also been talking about this with animator Stephen Brooks, on http://www.flickr.com/photos/jongorga/6335170345
    and recorded at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/18512171/highlight/217794