About Us › Teaching Comic Books
Learning to Make Comic Books
When Paul and I started working in comics, there were pitifully few opportunities to share information with other creators and to learn about the business. You mostly had to learn on the job, or by talking to other pros at comic-cons.
But that’s all changed. Today, there’s a wealth of information available about making comic books and making a living in comics. An embarrassment of riches, even. Below are some of the resources I think are worth sharing, and I've also posted my comic book writing guide and sample scripts. Feel free to tweet me your suggestions!
Resources for Comic Book Creators
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 and 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.
Drawing Words & Writing Pictures and Mastering Comics by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden (First Second) — The next generation of how-to books, with an accompanying website chock full of projects and info.
Also from Matt Madden is 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style (Chamberlain Bros.) — A one-page sequence is told using 99 different visual storytelling approaches, expanding on Wally Wood's famous “22 panels that always work” exercise.
The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics by Dennis O’Neil (Watson-Guptill) — DC has a whole line of “how to” books, covering writing, illustration, and other aspects of comics.
Watson-Guptill also published Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels by Brian Michael Bendis; The Art of Comic Book Writing by Mark Kneece (a SCAD Creative Essentials book); and a passel of other books about making comics.
Alternative Scriptwriting by Ken Dancyger & Jeff Rush (Focal Press) — Okay, this one isn't strictly about making comics, but it's handy for writers. A wide-ranging examination of story structures, genres, character, themes, irony, symbolism, and more, using many cinematic examples. Concise and accessible.
Alan Moore’s Writing for Comics (Avatar Press) — A short collection of essays about writing comic books, by one of the medium’s most respected, talented, and quirky writers.
Adventures in Cartooning by James Sturm, Alexis Frederick-Frost, and Andrew Arnold (Macmillan) — This series aimed at kids is an inventive, inspiring, interactive exploration of comic book techniques, told in narrative form. Produced by the Center for Cartoon Studies.
Visual Language: Writing for Comics, my own basic writing guide, is available for free on our site.
More classes and degrees in making comics (aka sequential art) are being offered every year—this is only a partial list of established comic book programs. There are also programs focused on the of comic books. Check your local schools, libraries, and scholarly studycomic book shops for classes near you.
Helioscope Studio in Portland, Oregon, is home to more than two dozen comic book creators. Here are just a few of the ways you can benefit from their experience:
Dilettante – Steve Lieber’s column for Toucan, the Comic-Con International blog, is essential reading.
Jonathan Case does reviews, videos, and advice about digital tools for making comics.
Cat Farris did a series of tutorials on digital comic book creation for Wacom.
Jesse Hamm has great essays about drawing comics on his Patreon page (donation required).
Master letterer Todd Klein (who designed our logo type) shares “how to” articles on his site, which is worth exploring in general. If you’ve never thought much about word balloon placements in comic book storytelling, then read this.
The Beat – Veteran comics journalist Heidi MacDonald and crew compiled a lengthy list of links on the topic “How to Get into Comics and Survive Once You’re There.” The Beat is also a great place to follow comic book industry news.
Jim Zub’s blog has become a much-discussed source of articles and tutorials about comic book writing, art, production, and economics.
Helioscope Studio alum Natalie Nourigat offers a bunch of tips, links, and recommended reading aimed at younger creators, but applicable to all ages. The collection of her diary comic Between Gears also has a good section on her creative working process and tools. More recently, she released the fun and extremely informative graphic novel I Moved to LA to Work in Animation.
Jessica Abel frequently blogs about the creative process and overcoming challenges, and she also runs workshops.