In the Blog

Making comics!

July 21st, 2008     by Tiina Johns     Comments

Recently, after a stint of reading a bunch of great comics, I got inspired, and thought, “I’ll make comics!” Or maybe I had just read a bunch of sexist comics not fit to use as kitty litter and thought, “God, I could make a way better comic than that.”

I quickly discovered a difficult truth: making comics is hard!

I can’t draw! Characters’ facial expressions are impossible to capture and drawing hands, wtf? Also, combining words and pictures - how does that work? I know I like reading stories this way, but why? How do I make a story that’s interesting and not just me rambling on about my cat? Or how can I make me and my cat look really great?

Luckily, there are some amazing resources available.

Jessica Abel and Matt Madden recently put out a book called Drawing Words and Writing Pictures. It’s a beautifully designed and endlessly useful comics resource. Abel and Madden have structured the book as a comics course, so each chapter is a lesson with history, instructions, examples and homework. For anyone who has graduated or dropped out and misses structured education, this book is like a comic correspondence course. Every aspect of the complex world of comic-making is explored: pencilling, inking and lettering, character design, story structure, and even publishing.

Jessica Abel is best known for her graphic novel, La Perdida, the amazing story of a young American women exploring her familial roots in Mexico and getting wrapped up in an intense political situation. Abel also recently scripted Life Sucks, a hilarious, post-modern comic about a vampire who’s forced to work in a convenience store for all eternity. I love Abel’s art and writing, and she turns out to be a great teacher too.

After all my bitching about how making comics is so difficult, I stumbled upon a book called Drawing Comics Is Easy, made by the accomplished comics creator Alexa Kitchen.

She has a fun and awesome approach to making comics, with a particular focus on character design. Oh yeah, and she’s seven years old.


Of course, the best known comics how-to dude is theorist and cartoonist Scott McCloud. His book, Understanding Comics is essential reading for anyone interested in comics.

Have you ever tried making comics? Ever created an awesome one? Drawn a stick figure with a word balloon that says “I stink” and written your co-worker’s name underneath? Please try it! Don’t forget the stink lines.

Tags: comics are for everybody, diy

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