Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: You Don't Need to be an Artist to Make Comics Like the Pros

When I wrote Circles, my deepest wish was that it would be turned into a graphic novel. But since I can't draw to save my life, I knew that dream wouldn't happen any time soon. I have a rather sizable collection of "How to Draw" books on my bookshelf, but they are mostly for moments of inspiration or boredom than for any real artistic endeavor.

But that never stops me from buying more books on drawing and illustration, especially if it relates at all to a current writing project. So when I saw Make Comics Like the Pros, by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, on Blogging for Books, I decided to give it a look. Because you never know, I might get struck by lightning and unlock mad illustrator skills.

There are two things that make this book different from all the other "How to Draw" books I've encountered. First it is the wonderful attention to the process of creating a comic, and second it is the wonderful attention to what happens AFTER the comic is complete.

Because every beginner needs the basics, "How to Draw" books that focus on character and scene creation are definitely important. But there is so much more to creating a comic than the art and the story. This book doesn't just tell you how to draw the characters, color the backgrounds, and line them up in panels. Pak and Van Lente give real-life examples of the creation process with quotes from other professionals in the industry and using a real comic to illustrate every step of the process.

And when chapter three rolls up and unveils the completed comic pages, showing all the steps in one finished product, you realize the book isn't done yet. There's still three more chapters that don't appear in most other "How to Draw" books. These "bonus" chapters include pitching your work, publishing, and marketing. These last chapters were especially useful because the information can be reinterpreted for non-comic works as well.

I enjoyed reading Make Comics Like the Pros for it's visual examples and for going beyond "How to Draw." It gives props to every team member needed to create a good comic besides the writer and the artist: the inker, the colorist, the letterer, and the editor. The only thing it's missing is a reference section that calls out the other resources mentioned in the book.  Anyone who wants to break into the comic business needs to read this and have it always handy on their bookshelf.

As always, so as not to get in trouble with the FTC, here is my disclaimer stating that I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. ^_^

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