As I was reading “The Incredible Hulk” I couldn’t help but notice that it was very clearly written during the Cold War. On multiple occasions his characters refer to the Russians as “reds” and later as “commies.” The Hulk even refers to Russia as “Vodkaland” on page 98. This coupled with the book’s attitude towards America also makes his obvious. On page 104, Tyrannus says, “I’ve been fearful of only one thing—the armed atomic might of the land called America!” They consistently make references to America’s superiority. They reference superiority in space travel and new technology that other countries wish to steal. The main female character is even named Betty Ross, immediately making me think of Betsy Ross. It was very interesting to read through and see the mind-set of the early 1960’s.
One thing that bothered me while reading "The Incredible Hulk" was the way females were portrayed. Similar to Frankenstein, which was written over a century previous to the Hulk's invention, the character of Betty Ross is just as passive as Agatha De Lacey and Caroline Frankenstein. She is the proverbial helpless damsel in distress who spends her days pining for a man whom she seems to love only because her father hates him. She's also not smart enough to make the connection between Bruce and his alter ego, loving one while hating the other. Meanwhile, the men are all depicted as strong, independent and highly educated. It's nice to know that in the span of a hundred years females have gained higher esteem in literature.
When I finished McCloud's Understanding Comics, I couldn't help but be frustrated by how long it was. I have no problem reading a long book when the majority of the pages have value but I just feel that McCloud could've condensed this book and it would've actually helped his cause. I think he made very interesting points and had great insight, but by dragging it on for 215 pages, he began to bore me. For example, the last chapter was literally restating the entire book, but if he could say all of that in one chapter, why did he need the other 200 pages of rambling? I don't mean to say that his book was completely worthless--I actually found parts to be very interesting--but I guess I was expecting a more dense, attention-grabbing book.
In the comic, "The Incredible Hulk," I found it interesting how we can relate to our first novel read in class, "Frankenstein." We have the Hulk who looks much like the typical version of Frankenstein monster with a distinct forehead, square head, and a big, muscular body. In my opinion, neither the Hulk or Frankenstein were bad people inside but let say emotionally stressed. They didn't want to hurt anybody, it was just society not wanting to realize that they had good in them which caused this anger to grow within. Although the story plots are different, when it comes to the overall idea of the the Hulk and the monster, each can act in a unstable, threatening manner yet still be gentle beings who just wish to be left alone. We have these two beings that have this inner sense of hopelessness who want to just find a way to live a normal life and find live at peace with the world. So with reading both novels, could we say that the Hulk and the monster are just normal human beings trapped in a monstrous looking body with feelings and a purpose in life? Or are they are they always going to be seen as cruel, destructive beings due to societies unwillingness to accept and give them a chance?
I really appreciated McCloud's "Understanding Comics" and the way that he described the life behind comics in the books and in the history. McCloud gave very interesting topics on the last three chapters about color and how the color scheme developed over time, it was nice to understand why some comics look so different than those of the past. "The Incredible Hulk" was an interesting comic book that really made me question a lot of the validity associated with the movies based on it. I enjoyed the plot line of the book, but I am not proficient at analyzing them yet. I am not sure how many layers deep "The Incredible Hulk" goes in McCloud's scale, if it makes it down to idea/purpose or not. It is a piece that has interesting art concepts and the framing is very nice. The frames are pretty straightforward and don't cause me to think about the timeline too much in this story, but some of the pictures have nice framing that I can appreciate a lot.
The influence of Frankenstein on The Incredible Hulk is clear as there are many parallels and similarities between the two. One striking contrast is the simplification of the "man or monster" story in The Incredible Hulk. In Frankenstein, there is great depth in the story and characters, with Victor and the monster being multi-dimensional. These various dimensions allow room for interpretation and debate. However, in the case of The Incredible Hulk, Lee and Kirby clearly present the Hulk as a good-natured being who is constantly blamed and attacked simply for his horrifying appearence. This simplification is a result of these comics mainly being aimed at a young audience who are more interested in a tale of good vs evil than a literary debate.
I've never read an entire comic book and was surprised about the dramatic colors used in the Incredible Hulk. They are very different from the colors used in the Sunday paper comics which I am used to seeing. Even without having ever read a Hulk comic though, I knew the general colors associated with the characters. I think he is a good example of McCloud's theory of characters being symbolized by particular colors. His striking green color makes him automatically recognizable. This use of such dramatic primary colors also plays into McCloud's idea that comics become a sort of playground of reality. By using these colors, comics are able to gear their appeal towards children, which is their main audience.
I'm not very interested in comics, so I was kind of dreading reading "Understanding Comics." It turned out to be a pretty good read. While it was a bit long and drawn out at times, it brought up a lot of things about comics that I never would have thought about - things that seem unintentional but are actually very thought out and make the books what they are. Closure was my favorite idea that he talked about, but I thought that of the final three chapters, the one on color was the most interesting. I was somewhat bored with the whole book being black and white because I am definitely a person who enjoys color, so I related to the parts when he talked about how colors can change the mood of the whole drawing and how the physical forms of objects become more obvious than if they were shown in black and white.
McCloud's "Understanding Comics" is great framework for all of the novels, comics and graphic novels that we already completed for this class or will read in the future. McCloud explains the intricate elements of comics that are crucial for understanding the meanings embedded in the images. Although, some of the text in "Understanding Comics" is wordy, confusing and a bit lengthy, he manages to explain key concepts very well. In Chapter 2, The Vocabulary of Comics, McCloud explains that comics are built out of icons – icons that can represent people, places, things. Comparing a simple smiley face or emoticon to a real photograph, we can always connect some idea or thought to the image. Children can easily recognize more simple cartoons and drawings while adults can add in emotions and ideologies that may be attached to an image. A simple image, icon or illustration does not mean a simple story is behind it (ie Vertigo). In addition, there are some symbols and icons that can be somewhat universal symbols. Frankenstein and the Incredible Hulk can be seen as somewhat universal symbols, classical villains or monsters. Their strong, distinct bodies and physiques are easily recognized and their stories are attached to their popular, commercialized images. However, if the public attempted to read the novel of Frankenstein or The Incredible Hulk they, most likely, will not be able to decipher and make sense of the stories. Since we are familiar with McCloud's concepts, like the vocabulary of comics, we can read into the real stories of these classic monsters.
"Understanding Comics" gives a deeper meaning to comics and graphic novels drawing attention to the readers eye. McCloud's interpretation of comics allows the reader to be subjective when reading through a comic book or graphic novel. Bringing colors to an image makes it more vibrant and noticeable which attracts the reader. When Banner's head is still present but his entire body is different and abnormally big and strong, shows that he wants to be the hulk but has some hesitation and skepticism in turning into essentially a big green monster. This is a turning point in the story because it is showing two completely different characters merging together.