Continuing Education

Books on Comics: A Reading List for Comic Book Creators

Spring quarter heralds a new subset of Continuing Education art classes that peel back the covers of an art form experiencing a rapid growth in popularity; comics! Two courses, Andrew Steers’ Comic Book Illustration and Tatiana Gill’s Draw Your Story: Find Your Voice through Comics will offer different approaches to sequential storytelling from seasoned Imageveterans of the medium. In anticipation of these two course offerings, we wanted to highlight a handful of the dozens of books on the market designed to guide readers in all disciplines of the comic creative process.

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
Scott McCloud

Scott McCloud has made his career as a cartoonist, lecturer and comic scholar. Since its publication in 1993, his Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art is seldom out of print. The book offers an in-depth analysis of the history visual narrative as well as how the language of comics reflect our ingrained need to make sense of our world through symbol systems. McCloud gives readers an historical perspective on how cultures have used pictures to tell stories and ultimately advances his discussion of how we all used a codified visual language to communicate meaning.

Comics and Sequential Art
Will Eisner

To some Will Eisner is the great grandfather of comics. He and comic pioneers like Jack Kirby, Joe Simon and Steve Ditko defined the visual language of comics in the days before and after WWII. In his lifetime, Eisner refined the concept of the graphic novel and explored the medium Imagethat took readers beyond mere pictures on a page.  Comics and Sequential Art is a series of essays based on Eisner’s teaching course on comics taught at the School of Visual Arts and often referred to as the ideal companion piece to McCloud’s Understanding Comics.

Dynamic Anatomy
Burne Hogarth

For decades, Burne Hogarth thrilled readers every Sunday with the hyper-realistic and heroic physiques found in his Tarzan newspaper strip. Originally published in 1958, Dynamic Anatomy is but one volume of his series on books devoted to accurate life drawing. Albeit, an instructional guide more for the artist devoted to the super hero set, Hogarth’s work still stands head and shoulders above most in his field of art education.

Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels
Brian Michael Bendis

Brian Michael Bendis made his comic book industry debut with self-published works like Jinx and Goldfish that gained him industry attention and garnered numerous Eisner Awards (named for the Will Eisner, above). This attention eventually landed him a record-breaking run as writer on Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man. Bendis eventually became a key point person in the refinement of Marvel’s super hero universe and a comic book rock star in his own right. ImageWords for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels (2015), guides creators through the art of comic books as a collaborative medium. Having experienced the creative process as both a successful writer and illustrator who invented his own personal brand from the ground up, Bendis deftly expresses the values inherent in playing well with others as well as breaks down each discipline behind creating comics into their component parts. He also delves into the actual business of comics and puts that schism between art and profit into a practical perspective.

The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing Comics: How to Create and Sell Comic Books, Manga, and Webcomics
Comfort Love and Adam Withers

Comic creators Love and Withers share their hard and fast experience as independent creators and publishers.  The goal of The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing Comics: How to Create and Sell Comic Books, Manga, and Webcomics (2015) is to confirm for neophyte creators that you don’t need a print shop, creative bullpen or domineering corporate publishers to make your art—comics can happen anywhere. Love and Withers review the spectrum of DIY comics from manga to web and might just be paving a path to the future of the medium.

For more information about CE’s upcoming spring comic book classes, please visit www.learnatnorth.org.