For the last few months, I’ve been creating tutorials and giving away valuable information on the creative and organizational processes of drawing comics. This time, instead of a tutorial, I’m going to give you a different type of take-home work. You’re going to do some reading, and trust me – it’s definitely worth it.
I’ve compiled a short list of some of the KEY resource books you should read on your journey to become a better cartoonist/comic book artist. I’ve read them and I have benefited greatly from their explanations, commentary and information. Each book has been written by a big name in the business, so the sources are all credible and come from knowledgeable experts in the field.
Your assignment is to pick up one of these books and study it closely.
Know as the Bible of comics creation and development, Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art has influenced a majority of North American and European comics storytellers for years. The book is a compilation of a series of essays he wrote in “The Spirit” magazine. These essays were then developed into lessons which were created for Eisner’s class at the School of Visual Arts in New York. The book acts as a guide for artists in developing the principles & practice of visual narratives. With a number of Eisner’s own comics used to illustrate his points, Comics and Sequential Art still stands as one of the best resources for anyone looking to make an impression in the world of comics. I highly recommend this above all other guides – give it just one read, and you’ll understand why.
The third installment in the critically acclaimed series by Author/Artist Scott McCloud, Making Comics easily explains the fundamentals of comic art from the perspective of an artist. The book has been illustrated as a comic book/graphic novel to further explain the versatility and importance of visual storytelling in everyday print media. Although heavily influenced by Eisner’s school of thinking in comics, A number of interesting points of discussion are raised within this book, which is typical of McCloud’s previous works (Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics) and may serve as a challenge to the conventional views of comics in general. This book provides simpler, hand-on approaches to its explanations and tends to categorize a variety of ideas into smaller bite size chunks for the newly initiated. Whether you buy into McCloud’s teachings or not, Making Comics is definitely worth a read.
As an editor for Marvel Comics, Andy Schmidt worked with a number of familiar names in the business – John Romita Jr., Brian Michael Bendis, Klaus Janson, Chris Sotomayor and John Byrne to name a few. His book is a compilation of insider tips from the soldiers on the front lines of the comics battle. There are a number of sections, and each one is skilfully interpreted by a professional in that particular field – writing, drawing, inking, coloring, and publishing are all described in detail. This book won’t teach you how to draw but it will teach you what to expect in comics (when working for a large company) and how to prepare yourself both mentally and physically through your portfolio. The Insider’s Guide… is an interesting read on the do’s and don’ts of the creative process. Although it is not as technically descriptive as the previous books mentioned in this post, it is definitely a must-read in order to sharpen your skills and wit when you’re planning on tackling one of the industry giants to get recognized.
This book, released under the care of DC Comics is part of a series of how-to books, showing artists and would-be artists how to properly follow the artists principles and protocols in the name of efficiency and production. The Digital Drawing guide by Freddie Williams II is a detailed, step-by-step look at the process involved in creating a comic from scratch, and focusing on using only a digital platform. As most of you know, I’ve been preaching the digital method for a long time – so this book comes highly regarded, as a number of the practices I teach and employ are used by Freddie himself. It was his efficiency and creativity with technology that caught the attention of DC Comics, and due to his abilities, Freddie was given the license to produce this stellar how-to guide on the ins and outs of digitally drawing comics. For those of you wanting to learn how to do all your work on the computer, and how to be the most efficient at doing so, you MUST pick up this book. It will open doors to a new world in the production of your own comics.
So there you have it – four MUST-READ resource books for drawing comics. I suggest you pick up at least one of these books this month, read it over and study it well. Put everything you’ve learned into practice, and you’ll see your graphic storytelling improve dramatically. For more resource material, feel free to check out the idrawdigital store, under the How To Draw and Reference section! There’s plenty of other interesting titles that will help you on your quest to become a better artist / writer for comics!