Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On the Coffee Table: Making Comics

Title: Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels
Author: Scott McCloud

Image via SpiderFan.org

I am not the intended audience for this book, McCloud's third non-fiction work about the comics industry.  I have no comic book writing aspirations, at least to this point.  However, I am very glad to have read it and expect I will refer back to it in years to come.  It was McCloud himself who first piqued my interests in the technical and artistic aspects of the medium in his earlier work, Understanding Comics.  While that book provided a beginning, Making Comics gets much deeper into the how-to nitty-gritty of comics creation.  As I have written before, while I feel pretty comfortable discussing the text of comic books, I'm not so good with the visual elements.  McCloud's book has helped me to build my vocabulary on the subject considerably.

Making Comics covers a lot of ground.  The first chapter is, in fact, a bit overwhelming as McCloud tries to cram as many over-arching theories in as possible.  The book improves, I think, when he slows down a little in subsequent chapters.  In great depth, McCloud discusses character development, text synthesis and world building. His fifth chapter, entitled "Tools, Techniques and Technology: Making It Real," covers everything from pen and paper on up.  The section is more technical than I would ever need but I'm grateful for the insight into the craft.  The chapter I enjoyed most was the sixth, "Your Place in Comics," in which McCloud explores the many stylistic directions being pursued all over the world.

McCloud mentions the importance in drawing distinctive eyes for each character - a detail particularly significant to him in his own work.  I am reminded of perhaps my very favorite artist in any medium: Jim Henson.  Whenever a new Muppet was being assembled, Henson always wanted to be present for the placement of the eyes - essential to the personality of the character in his mind.

Photo via Muppet Wiki

Having just finished the book, I still feel a bit overloaded with information.  I expect, however, that this volume will have a permanent home on the reference shelf as I continue to explore comics.  As I have written before, McCloud's writing and the comics medium in general have a lot to offer for storyteller in other media as well.  I will continue to keep an eye out for his work.

1 comment:

  1. I probably could have used this a couple of years ago when I endeavored to write a graphic novel script. I read a similar book from someone I know online who works in that business. Then I bought a book of comic book scripts. Though as with writing non-graphically a great way to learn is just to read a lot in that area.

    I have no idea how well my script would work since it would need artists to draw it before it could really come to life.