Mind in the Gutter

I’m teaching a graphic novels course right now to graduate students using Skype and blogs on a weebly.com platform primarily through a site my students have created: http://asucomics.weebly.com.  We began the course with an introduction to comics provided by Scott McCloud in his Understanding Comics

I believe that one of the most important contributions McCloud has made to comics theory is the notion of closure.  Closure in comics is the reader’s imaginative ability to create continuity of action between panel frames in that place known as the gutter.  Given two or more comics panels in sequence, the reader is required to connect the narrative dots by creating the action that isn’t shown between the comic panels.  In other words, as McCloud writes, “closure allows us to connect these moments and mentally construct a continuous, unified reality” (67).

But, of course, this act of closure is what happens in all reading.  Confronted with any poem, story, or novel–or any text really–we bring with us background experience and knowledge that allows us to close the gap between our world and the world presented by the text so that we can build a relationship between our lives and the life the text offers up to us.  As texts attract us, our minds go in the gutter.