Teaching Comic Books
“Good comic book writers think in pictures as well as words. They visualize the images in their stories, then describe them to artists via scripts.”
I originally created this writing guide for a workshop I taught at the annual Willamette Writers Conference, and I’ve used it many times since then. Friends in the comics business tell me they regularly send newbies to read it, so I’m keeping it available online and adding recommended books and links here.
The industry overview section of my guide needs updating, but until I get around to that, see the Other Resources pages on our site. It’s full of links to helpful information about making, teaching, and reading comic books. I add new links periodically, so send me your suggestions!
If you like bulleted lists, you can also download the slides I made for a different version of my writing workshop. And if the process images accompanying this text caught your eye, they’re from the “Creative Chaos” presentation I did with Paul.
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud (HarperCollins) — The definitive work on the structural and conceptual underpinnings of comic books. No other book discusses the medium in such depth, in such an entertaining format.
Comics & Sequential Art by Will Eisner (Poorhouse Press) — Eisner’s film noir–influenced drawing style and compositions in The Spirit have, in turn, influenced countless aspiring artists. His classic exploration of comics storytelling is geared toward illustrators, but is highly recommended for writers too.
Alan Moore’s Writing for Comics by Alan Moore (Avatar Press) — A short collection of essays about writing comic books, by one of the medium’s most respected, talented, and quirky writers.
Alternative Scriptwriting by Ken Dancyger & Jeff Rush (Focal Press) — A wide-ranging examination of story structures, genres, character, themes, irony, symbolism, and more, using many cinematic examples. Concise and accessible.
Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels by Brian Michael Bendis (Watson-Guptill)