Comic Solutions

Book Review–Mastering Comics: Drawing Words & Writing Pictures Continued

Mastering Comics: Drawing Words & Writing Pictures Continued
First Second
Jessica Abel & Matt Madden
May 2012

Matt and Jessica have extensive experience creating and teaching comics and in their first book, Drawing With Words and Pictures, they shared a portable classroom.  Now they come back to us with further lessons in this companion book.  The book covers more advanced topics in creating a good comic, such as story composition; coloring and formatting pictures; and even more importantly it has a section on how to self-publish and getting published, surely to be helpful to young writers/artists just starting out.  Just like the first book, this one is divided into easy to read sections so the book can be used as a textbook or for an individual course study, which is extremely helpful and makes the book very versatile.

This text is heavily illustrated with examples to help guide readers on seeing the lesson in action.  Jessica and Matt use examples, not just from their own works, but examples from other professionally published artists so that readers have an extensive bibliography of images to look at (and look for.)  They also supplement the text with “further reading” sections, which allow a reader/student to continue their learning and more importantly to get an additional point of view from other working artists.  I also really like how they’ve broken down homework assignments in the book.  Not only do they put assignments at the back of each chapter to help readers learn the concepts that they’ve been reading about, but they also put some right after they’ve talked about a particular aspect, such as scriptwriting.  They walk the reader through how to start the process step by step and offer examples of things to do along the way.

My favorite section in this book might just be “The Horror of the Blank Page,” which lists ways to overcome the fear of a blank page and getting some ideas on where to go next.  It’s helpful to know that even the authors, experienced artists that they are, still struggle sometimes with overcoming that scary empty white page.  And I think that’s something else that is helpful, that Jessica and Matt share some of their own personal experiences in this book, which for me helps make reading the book easier knowing that yes, they’ve encountered some of these same issues that have plagued me.  An important addition to this book Matt and Jessica talk about webcomics, even encouraging the students to give them a try to gain experience with not only how they work, but to help artists/writers improve upon their skill set.

This this is a great book for providing practical lessons that will be useful to readers whether they are doing a self study or in a class.  Even more so it’s a great book for fans of comics/graphic novels to see what type of work goes into creating the these items that they enjoy.  I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.

Review copy provided by Gina at FirstSecond

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