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On the Drawing Board: Visual Communication and Beyond

Nursing room sign, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Yeah, yeah, nobody reads site blogs anymore, but I have a lot to talk about—more than can fit in a tweet—and this seemed as good a place as any to put it all into words…

I’m still working feverishly on my massive book about visual communication. The second draft of my (neurotically-tight) layouts ran 571 pages, and I’m determined, as I plow through my third—and hopefully final—draft, to make it substantially shorter and less rambling. Wish me luck!

The book has taken me years so far, but I sincerely believe it’ll be worth it. It’s a preposterously ambitious full color project covering the evolution and biology of vision; principles of visual perception; demonstrations of how visual elements behave in the mind’s eye; best practices for clarity, explanation, and effective rhetoric; and some personal reflections on our family’s experiences with blindness.

Oh, and I’m also working on a big secret project we hope to announce in the coming months!

I still haven’t gotten Covid as of this writing—fingers crossed!—but the pandemic at large did keep us home for big stretches of 2020-2022. Nevertheless, I’ve continued to do my lectures and workshops, albeit virtually in some cases. Swing by the presentations page for more info.

New for this month: We’re happy to announce a gorgeous new edition of my 2015 graphic novel The Sculptor (speaking of five hundred page books that took years). 

As of this writing, there’s still a chance that it will be a movie, by the way. We’ll see! Not counting any eggs before they’re hatched, but you never know…

We passed some milestones in the last couple of years. I’m now officially OLD, having received the Eisner Awards’ Hall of Fame award last year. The globe design was based on a page from my 1993 book Understanding Comics so it was kinda nice to finally get my hands on one.

But we also passed a kind of milestone no one can ever be prepared for… 

On April 28 of this year, Ivy died in a car accident on her way to bring our youngest, Winter, home from the University of Michigan where she had just gotten her masters degree. Ivy was 61 years old. We had been married for 34 years.

I’ve written about Ivy’s death only sparsely so far, because such a bottomless loss can’t be summed up in words, but I’ll do my best to at least relay the essentials here.

I met Ivy during my first weeks of college in 1978. I fell in love with her the following year, but I carried that love for the next seven years secretly as she had been otherwise engaged in one way or another throughout that time. 

But when the stars finally aligned in my favor, I seized my chance, and on December 23, 1986, I told Ivy that I loved her, and one year, one month, and one day later, we were married.

Ivy was funny, kind, creative, endlessly talkative, sexy, and smarter than me in oh so many ways—but she was also prey to fits of depression. The highs and the lows of living with her were exhilarating and exhausting. 

She was my “muse” in the old, romantic sense; a force of life and love, an inspiration. She inspired characters in my work (especially and explicitly Meg in The Sculptor), and she was also a muse for the hundreds of young actors she taught and directed over the years in local children’s theatre productions.

Ivy and I battled infertility for four years before having our first child, Sky; a pregnacy that began with in vitro fertilization (IVF) and ended with a cesarean. But when Sky’s little sister, Winter, was conceived the old-fashioned way two years later, Ivy battled just as hard to have as little intervention as possible and succeeded there too. 

Ivy was the most dedicated and loving mother I’ve ever known. Our life together as a family was filled with laughter, rapid-fire conversations, arguments, creativity, and so, so many long road trips, including a year-long 50 state tour from 2006 to 2007. And dogs. Always dogs. And moving, we were always moving from place to place; always renting, never owning… Always waiting on the next check.

Ivy was my best friend. We never ran out of things to talk about. We never ran out of ways to say “I love you.” 

I told our grief counselor how my time with Ivy always felt like I was getting away with something; how life with her always felt new; how I always got the same rush of endorphins or whatever that lovers get when they’re young; a feeling that’s supposed to wear off in time; how it always felt as if we had just eloped, as if we had just met. 

And the counselor laughed and told me we were “freaks”; that what we had was not remotely normal. And I believe it. 

I loved her then, I love her now, I will love her for the rest of my life.

And I will never stop giving thanks for the time we had.


Discussion (15)¬

  1. Seg says:

    I for one do read website blogs via my RSS reader. Which may also date me…

    My deepest condolences to you, and it’s good to see you are getting the help you need to deal with Ivy’s passing.

    • Scott says:

      Thank you for the kind words. It’s been a great help talking to someone, although my kids have been the greatest comfort of all, of course.

  2. Lennon Patton says:

    Scott,

    Long time fan and first time commenter to your blog (that I remember). I wanted to say thank you for sharing this with us and I am very sorry for your loss. You were very kind to me when I met you at a retailer after party in San Diego way back in 1999. I wanted to return that kindness with lots of love and healing for you and your family. Good luck on the book and I look forward to reading it when it’s published!

  3. M.H.C says:

    I met you and Ivy at Lambique in Amsterdam years ago. Its a moment my husband and I look back on fondly. It breaks my heart to read what happened. Ivy was such a sweetie and we could feel your passion for one another. My husband is seriously ill at the moment so while I can’t know exactly what you are going through… I feel you man, this sh*t is lonely and it hurts. I’m glad you are still being creative in all of this. Sometimes I like to believe if you keep creating no matter what, you can get through anything.

  4. Simon says:

    Looking forward to the new book Scott and maybe a return to the old web way of finding and reading things which I miss.

    What a beautiful piece about you and Ivy she sounded very special. Grief is hard, but glad you’re finding ways to come to terms with the loss and remembering that the memories and love endure.

  5. T Campbell says:

    Good to hear from you, Scott. I’m sorry to hear about Ivy, glad to hear about your happiness. You inspired me and countless others, and that kind of inspiration wasn’t just “how to write,” it was also “how to see” and “how to live.” I was watching you both and picking things up when we met at conventions in the 2000s. I met the love of my own life in the 2010s, some time after I’d stopped looking. We’ve been married 7 years and condensed our bookshelves today. I’ll be thinking about you guys as I spend the rest of the day with her.

  6. Tim Mallos says:

    Hi Scott. I am so deeply saddened to learn of your loss. I met Ivy and your girls briefly in 2002 while attending your first MCAD seminar and remember the silly, supportive, collaborative dynamic the four of you shared. I wish you as much peace as is possible.

  7. melanie says:

    Just want to leave a little comment.
    I am so sorry for your loss.

  8. Tom Hart says:

    God bless you Scott, and Ivy, Winter and Sky and the rest of the marvelous world you all have touched.

  9. Ross Smith says:

    I still poke into this sight and have all your books. Your Ted Talk was a breath of fresh air at a time when I needed some new ways to look at things. Thanks for talking about your loss in a public setting. I think watching how people we admire work with loss can be such a beacon in ways difficult to perceive. Thanks for all your thoughtful and creative output for all these years. Just give us a 500 page monster book! I’d hate to think of all the lost content I’ll miss out on

  10. M E Hope says:

    Mr. McCloud, I stumbled here just doing some research and found your blog (I’m also old school) and your words about Ivy. Thank you for sharing her; your love and your loss is a twinned cloud this morning. I hope your family finds comfort in all that she was. Take care.

  11. Andrew Farago says:

    Thanks for sharing, Scott.

  12. NK says:

    Terribly sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your love of comics, and your wonderful insights and learning. As time passes, memories of love don’t fade, they become more vivid, and moments of happy times will keep bubbling up. May you find strength to continue the work that gives joy to so many people.

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