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Books–Making Comics, (II) October 17, 2006

Posted by caveblogem in Books, Cartooning, Other.

Just coming off reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time I have been doing some thinking about autism.  Oh, and Coupland’s JPod had me thinking about it as well (because of one of the characters’ assertion that her coworkers were all a type of high-functioning autistics).  I read in Boing Boing last week that there was a recent study showing that there is a new take on autism, that it is not so much a disorder as a new type of person.  At any rate, I’ve been thinking a little about it and now I happen to read Making Comics.  The main character in The Curious Incident has memorized a few drawings of facial expressions so that he can tell when people are happy or angry and that sort of thing.  Scott McCloud’s new book, Making Comics, comes with an excellent guide for such things, showing you how to draw various facial expressions, which he claims are all combinations of six different basic types:

  1. Anger
  2. Disgust
  3. Fear
  4. Joy
  5. Sadness
  6. Surprise

What does it say about the human condition that there is really only one positive emotion represented there.  Anyway, McCloud asserts that there is a continuum between strong and weak varieties of these, and that if they are combined, in groups of twos, threes and whatever, they create more complicated, and natural emotions.

So disgust and sadness create “pain empathy,” joy and sadness create “faint hope,” and so on.  This book is a joy to look at because all of these are depicted in there.



1. davidbdale - October 17, 2006

This is very thought-provoking. Those basic facial masks are also the tools of mime. It’s the combinations that are so intriguing. What it says about the human condition is hard to say, but there’s nothing negative about surprise per se, and blending it with joy, for example, yeilds something like wonder. What could be more positive? I hope I don’t sound argumentative. I only want to participate in the conversation you started. What mask do we wear for acceptance, serenity, compassion, love? Some of the best of them are tinged with sadness, or fear of loss, not positive in themselves, but so pwerfully human.

2. davidbdale - October 18, 2006

That’s odd. My comment didn’t “take.”

3. Nannette in Fantasticland - October 18, 2006

So, this spring I was at the Museum of Science in Boston, and they have this great interactive exhibit where you can control different levers to change the arch of the eyebrows or how open the mouth is. I could have sat there for hours, playing with the controls. It was amazing to me to see how a subtle change of one part of the face altered everything.

Anyway, my son and I got into a great discussion about emotions after playing at this together. I found it a great tool for teaching him about awareness of people’s emotions and sensitivity to people’s expressions. I have heard it said before that men have a harder time recognizing their own and other people’s emotions. Do you guys think that’s true? I hate to stereotype here, but I wonder about this. I mean, if it’s true, then maybe part of educating children, and boys in particular, ought to include drawing comics with different emotions on the faaces.

4. Eric - March 5, 2007

I’ve just seen a post about this book on another blog, so will be checking it out. A new breed of person….autism. I don’t think so, though the intelligence factor found within autistic people is a by product of the problem. Over functioning syapses.

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