Seeking to disprove stereotypes that comics are merely simplistic or juvenile entertainment for the uncultured; to enlighten the open-minded and encourage the broadening of one's horizons; to examine comics as a text; to deepen appreciation for comics, comic books, and graphic novels as a formidable form of art in all cultures.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Review: How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way

How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema is pretty much what the title suggests: an instructional book on illustrating comics in a certain manner. When a "how to draw" book is mentioned, you might think of those simplistic books you used to pick up from the library as a kid that helped you learn to draw potatoes in five different scenarios or stoic animals. This book, I assure you, is a little more advanced.

HTDCTMW teaches the reader all the processes of illustrating a professional comic book, emphasizing the ability to draw different scenarios and breaking them down into their basic shapes/components. Stan Lee emphasizes the need to be able to depict a story that one could follow without words, if necessary. The authors even take it a step further and show you how to ink, which is an underappreciated art form in the comics industry/readership (including yours truly). Some argue that, for advanced artists, the information contained is a little dated (it is over 20 years old) if you are aspiring to get into the comics biz, but almost anyone would point you to this if you were asking for a book to help you hone your artistic talents specifically for comic book creation.

I include this book in the sidebar as recommended reading because it shows the many tools comic book artists have to work with, and also gives insight into what an artist must remember as they strive to communicate effectively through the comics medium. It distinguishes between drawing real life and drawing for a superhero genre, the sorts of melodramatic elements that must be considered when doing so. The beginnings of the book also break down a comic page into its various elements and define what exactly they are (the "gutter," a "splash page," etc.). I plan on citing this book in future posts.

If you can endure Stan Lee's zany narration, give this book a peek. I received it as a present as a teenager, and though I haven't attempted to enter the comics industry, I have kept the book as a reference for understanding -- and I've had professional artist friends borrow it from me to specifically gain a better understanding of such notions as proper proportions in human anatomy and superheroes.

No comments: