Iconic Selves

The “iconic self” is a term coined by Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics. An icon, according to McCloud, is an image used to represent a person, place, thing, or idea.

from Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics

Some icons are very simple, others are more complex and realistic. Generally, the more simple an icon’s features are, the more easily recognizable it is. Simple icons are also adaptable to our own individual realities. An icon with greater detail will register as a distinct object (or person) in our minds; while we may recognize the object, we won’t see ourselves, or our realities, in that object quite as easily.

from Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics

Before we read Blankets, we will be drawing our iconic selves in ENG 132. To do this, start by thinking about key features that make you identifiable. In the above examples, Rachel Dukes has Frankie, her cat, and the side of her head is shaved. Craig Thompson has a book and his timid personality is seen through his facial expression. Scott McCloud has round glasses. Props, facial features, accessories, or favorite clothing all help make a person recognizable, even when their icon is simple, like a cartoon. It’s up to you how cartoony your icon is – for those of us who “can’t draw” (I think we can all draw, but I sympathize with this feeling!), stick people are just fine! Work at your comfort level.


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