Review: Making Comics

We bought Making Comics for our son upon recommendation from The Geek Dads. It was a Christmas gift for him.

The book is written by Scott McCloud. I was previously unaware of him. Apparently he has been a long time guru in the comics industry. He has two other books out, Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics. Those two seem to have been big successes. If they are anything like Making Comics, I understand why.

I am not an expert on comics theory or philosophy, but I will say that McCloud is a genius. His ability to explain the philosophy of comics in such a basic way is incredible. This is not a book about how to draw, but it is a book about drawing comics. He also deals with lettering philosophy and finding your own genre and niche.

He boils down for the reader what makes a comic readable and why things are done in the way they are. He points out some sacred cows–one of which he calls “flow”–but then also tells you how to go against the norm to find your own style in other aspects.

He gives many examples and is very encouraging for the new comics artist/writer. He shows that there are many styles out there that have been successful, but then he also points out why they are successful. It is not just one style of art that will make a comic be accepted. Nor is it one type of story. There are many factors involved and he tries to point those out. But, he also admits that there is no magic formula. Some of it is just trial and error.

I was disappointed by one thing in the book. There are some language and pictures that just are not appropriate for a 10 year old. I am disgusted with myself for assuming the book was written for all ages. It is not. I took Geek Dad’s recommendation with the thinking that it would be good for children since that is the tone of their blog and podcast. I did not have a Sharpie(tm) handy when I read the book the first time. I guess that means I have to read it again with Sharpie or white out in hand.

I understood the book as a whole. But I am not sure I completely got my head around Chapter 6 Section 3: Understanding Comics Culture. Maybe the second time through it will make more sense to me.

I really did buy this book for my son. He has read it twice or three times in the two weeks we have had it. But it was a good read for me as well. I have no interest in becoming a comics artist, but I am a communicator. I love reading books on communication and particularly philosophy of communication. This book was right up my alley. The subtitle is: Storytelling secrets of comics, manga, and graphic novels. It really is all about how to communicate a story from one person to another.

Absolutely highly recommended. If you have younger children, maybe below the age of 14, then you may want to read through the book first to make sure it is acceptable. If not, there are only a few places where the pen of censorship needs to be applied.

Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels, Scott McCloud, Harper, 2006, 264 pages.

2 thoughts on “Review: Making Comics”

  1. I started art lessons this week!

    I am teaching my son as part of his homeschooling day. He is really interested in being a comics artist. These lessons are set up in such a way that I can do the lessons too while teaching him the principles. I have had a few lessons in my day, so none of this is really new to me.

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