Geoffrey Long
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Meeting Scott McCloud.
Scott McCloud
I didn't post about this before the event because I was nervous as hell, but last Thursday night I had the honor of being the first of three student respondents to none other than the world's foremost comics theorist, Scott McCloud.

When I was first asked to do this, I freaked out a little. I've been following McCloud's work for years, ever since Understanding Comics, and was highly anticipating his new book, Making Comics. Now I was going to be up on stage at the MIT Media Lab, trying to follow up his presentation with a short pitch on my own research and demonstrating how the two tied together. As the British might say, I was slightly chuffed – as we Americans might say, I was terrified.

As it turned out, I had no reason to worry. Despite not just having to follow McCloud, but having to follow his cute-as-heck 13-year-old daughter Sky's presentation on their Making Comics Fifty State Tour, the whole thing came off fairly well. My work on transmedia storytelling tied into his stuff much better than I would have thought, and the audience was warm and receptive, and after the dust cleared, all in all it was a high point of my career so far. The questions I fielded were about what aspects of comics were necessarily lost when a property was brought to film (his answer: pretty much none), whether comics were a good starting point for a transmedia property (his answer: comics are an excellent first step for control freaks – good answer, good answer), and what his further thoughts were on comics on mobile devices (his answer: Apple wields too much control over the way content is delivered and navigated on the iPod, which restricts how most mobile content would develop, but it's still an embryonic field).

I was followed onstage by my friend Laura Nichols (whose new comic, Jumbly Junkery, I've been meaning to plug here for weeks), who was in turn followed by my other friend Alec Austin, each of whom fielded three questions of their own (a precedent I set onstage completely on the fly, but which worked astoundingly well – give it up for the old Rule of Three). The good Mr. McCloud answered each of our questions politely, thoroughly and intelligently. McCloud was recently compared to Edward Tufte on the webcomics blog Fleen, but having now met both, I can tell you which one I'd rather hang out with and listen to for hours – and it sure as heck ain't Tufte.

Actually, I was lucky enough to hang out with McCloud for hours, since after the event the entire CMS department and some of our guests retired to Henry Jenkins' house for the reception. We exchanged bad knock-knock jokes, ideas for Flash webcomic structures, and stupid funny stories, and eventually Ivan, my girlfriend Laura, and I all wound up sitting on the floor with McCloud's daughters Sky and Winter, talking about video games, Veronica Mars and getting stabbed in the back while getting pancakes at IHOP. Or something like that. Weird, long story, involving musical numbers and spun by a nine-year-old. Scott McCloud raises great kids, even if they may someday run the halls of MIT as students themselves, crying "Stab! Stab! Stab!" at the tops of their lungs.

Man. I can't wait to see that, actually.

So, yeah. I've now met Scott McCloud. How cool is that?

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