Scott McCloud (born Scott McLeod on June 10, 1960) is an American cartoonist and comics theorist. He is best known for his non-fiction books about comics, Understanding Comics (1993), Reinventing Comics (2000), and Making Comics (2006).
McCloud was born in 1960 in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Willard Wise (an inventor and engineer) and Patricia Beatrice McLeod, and spent most of his childhood in Lexington, Massachusetts. He decided he wanted to be a comics artist in 1975, during his junior year in high school.
Syracuse University's Illustration program was closest to his career goals. He selected that school and major, and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1982.
Artist and theorist
McCloud created the light-hearted science fiction/superhero comic book series Zot! in 1984, in part as a reaction to the increasingly grim direction that superhero comics were taking in the 1980s.
His other print comics include Destroy!! (a deliberately over-the-top, oversized single-issue comic book, intended as a parody of formulaic superhero fights), the graphic novel The New Adventures of Abraham Lincoln (done with a mixture of computer-generated and manually drawn digital images), 12 issues writing DC Comics' Superman Adventures, the three-issue limited series Superman: Strength, and his 2015 graphic novel The Sculptor.
He is best known as a comics theorist or, as some say, the "Aristotle of comics", following the publication in 1993 of Understanding Comics, a wide-ranging exploration of the definition, history, vocabulary, and methods of the medium of comics, itself in comics form. He followed in 2000 with Reinventing Comics (also in comics form), in which he outlined twelve "revolutions" that he argued would be keys to the growth and success of comics as a popular and creative medium. Finally, in 2006, he released Making Comics. Following publication, he went on a tour with his family that included all 50 U.S. states and parts of Europe.
He was one of the earliest vocal supporters of micropayments. He was also an adviser to BitPass, a company that provided an online micropayment system, which he helped launch with the publication of The Right Number, an online graphic novella priced at US$0.25 for each chapter. McCloud maintains an active online presence on his web site where he publishes many of his ongoing experiments with comics produced specifically for the web. Among the techniques he explores is the "infinite canvas" permitted by a web browser, allowing panels to be spatially arranged in ways not possible in the finite, two-dimensional, paged format of a physical book.
He created a comic book that formed the press release introducing Google's web browser, Google Chrome, which was published on September 1, 2008.
In 2009, McCloud was featured in The Cartoonist, a documentary film on the life and work of Jeff Smith, creator of Bone.
Creator's Bill of Rights
McCloud was the principal author of the Creator's Bill of Rights, a 1988 document with the stated aim of protecting the rights of comic book creators and help aid against the exploitation of comic artists and writers by corporate work-for-hire practices. The group that adopted the Bill also included artists Kevin Eastman, Dave Sim, and Stephen R. Bissette. The Bill included twelve rights such as "The right to full ownership of what we fully create," and "The right to prompt payment of a fair and equitable share of profits derived from all of our creative work."
In 1990, McCloud coined the idea of a 24-hour comic, a complete 24-page comic created by a single cartoonist in 24 consecutive hours. It was a mutual challenge with cartoonist Steve Bissette, intended to compel creative output with a minimum of self-restraining contemplation. Thousands of cartoonists have since taken up the challenge, including: Neil Gaiman; Kevin Eastman, co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; Dave Sim, who published some of his work from this challenge in Cerebus the Aardvark; and Rick Veitch who used it as a springboard for his comic Rarebit Fiends.
Technique and materials
Although McCloud sketches his layouts in pencil, the remainder of his work is done digitally, explaining in his 2006 book Making Comics that he had not used traditional materials like Bristol board, pens or brushes in years. After sketching layouts, which he says are "pretty tight", and include the full script, he scans them into an 18-inch computer tablet/monitor to use them as a guide for lettering them in Adobe Illustrator. After completing the lettering, he exports the files to Photoshop, where he fully renders the art at a resolution of 1,200 dpi, creating between five and fifty layers of finished art before flattening it into a single black and white bitmap, plus a greyscale page, if needed.
McCloud lives in Newbury Park, California. He has been married to Ivy Ratafia since 1988, and they have two daughters, Sky and Winter.
Reception and legacy
McCloud has been called the "Marshall McLuhan of comics".
- 1985 Jack Kirby Award for Best New Series for Zot!
- 1985 Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award for Zot!
- 1994 Eisner Award for Best Comics-Related Book for Understanding Comics
- 1994 Harvey Award for Best Writer for Understanding Comics
- 1994 Harvey Award for Best Graphic Album/Original Material for Understanding Comics
- 1994 Harvey Award for Best Biographical, Historical or Journalistic Presentation for Understanding Comics
- 2001 Harvey Award for Best Biographical/Historical Presentation for Reinventing Comics
- 2007 Eagle Award for Favourite Comics-Related Book for Making Comics
- 2007 Quill Award for Best Graphic Novel for Making Comics
- 1988 Harvey Award for Best Cartoonist for Zot!
- 1988 Eisner Award for Best Single Issue for Zot! #14
- 1988 Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series for Zot!
- 1988 Eisner Award for Best Black-and-White Series for Zot!
- 1988 Eisner Award for Best Writer/Artist for Zot!
- 1991 Harvey Award for Best Writer for Zot!
- 1991 Harvey Award for Best Single Issue or Story for Zot! #33
- 1991 Eisner Award for Best Story or Single Issue for Zot! #33
- 1991 Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series for Zot!
- 1991 Eisner Award for Best Black-and-White Series for Zot!
- 1991 Eisner Award for Best Writer for Zot!
- 1992 Harvey Award for Best Single Issue or Story for Zot! #35
- 1993 Harvey Award for Best Biographical, Historical or Journalistic Presentation for Understanding Comics: The Slideshow!
- 1998 Eisner Award for Best Single Issue for Superman Adventures #3 ("Distant Thunder"; with Rick Burchett and Terry Austin)
- 1998 Eisner Award for Best Serialized Story for Superman Adventures #11-12 ("The War Within"; with Rick Burchett and Terry Austin)
- 1998 Eisner Award for Best Writer for Superman Adventures
- 2007 Harvey Award for Best Biographical, Historical or Journalistic Presentation for Making Comics