Iconic Bias, Part 1.5

Here’s another subtle example of this Iconic Bias that I discussed in my earlier post. From a recent new interview with Scott McCloud, the interviewer asked:

“What’s hard for you to draw?”

Can you see the subtle bias here? Give it some thought…

It assumes that the capacity for drawing is about “drawing things in the world” — and drawing them as their supposed to look — as opposed to drawing being a capacity for expressing concepts, which just happen to look like things out “in the world.” Let me rephrase the question: “What [things out there in the world are] hard for you to draw?”

In contrast to a Language approach, imagine asking someone, “What words are hard for you to pronounce?” Scott’s answer is also illustrative, because it invokes the need for reference photos, tied to that same perspective (if its not in the mind, I need to reference “out there in the world”).

Snark I can’t hold back: Why is this question even there? I mean, really, this is Scott McCloud, the guy who ushered in deep thinking about comics. You really want to waste a question asking him what he doesn’t draw well? Puh-lease.

OK, I swear, next post on this I’ll get into some of the results of this Iconic Bias.


  • I think your assumption here is wrong. The question is like asking a novelist “what’s the hardest thing for your write?” McCloud could have answered “intimate conversations” or “sofas.” Either would apply.

    Things in a drawn language need not be drawn realistically, however they must be drawn clearly and accurately. They can be simplified or abstracted, but if the reader cannot understand what the object is or what it represents, then there is a breakdown of communication, similar to mumbling or mispronouncing a word in spoken language.

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