In the following article, we will talk about 9 books that you must have if you are a comic book artist. Each one, brings a different knowledge, but not less important one than another. These 9 books you can’t miss, having them will improve your artistic and creative process, don’t you believe me? Keep reading!
Talent plus study = An infallible formula
Every comic creator must study. There is no success with talent alone. For this reason, it is very important to be well documented about what the great masters of the past and the researchers of our present have done.
You must nurture yourself both in drawing techniques and in the understanding of the language of comics.
In this article, we will show you the 9 books that you can’t miss in your career as a comic artist
- How to Make a Comic, by Scott McCloud
This book could well be considered the abc of comics, if not a bible of comics. Technically speaking, we could say that it is an essay on what comics is, mentioning exemplary milestones of this art, in addition to technical questions about drawing.
Deeply serious, committed and bearable, it constitutes one of the great well-documented syntheses on the comic strip, entirely done in comic strip format! Definitely a must for new comic strip artists, as well as for teachers and researchers.
2. Comics and sequential art, by Will Eisner
A classic of comics theory, written by Will Eisner himself, an acclaimed author both in the United States and around the world. It is an essential book for specialists, academics, as well as for comic fans.
Its pages are based on the course that Eisner taught for years at New York’s School of Visual Art, and it contains an important amount of theories, concepts and advice about storytelling through drawing.
Like McCloud’s book, it’s almost mandatory for comics artists to read this book. Also, it is highly recommended for academics looking for training in the subject, without necessarily producing comics.
3. Töpffer, the Man who Invented the Comics, by Thierry Groensteen
Thierry Groensteen is a renowned critic of the ninth art. While his writing is much more academic than the books mentioned above, it is comprehensive and sheds light on the origin of modern comics.
Abundant in illustrations, it contains Rodolphe Töpffer’s (1799-1846) theoretical writings of what he named “drawn literature.” Such theories, accompanied by Groensteen’s reading, offer insight into the historical context of Töpffer’s works and thought, whose humor continues to have an effect to this day.
Recommended for anyone who wants to learn about the language and history of comics.
4. Successful Drawing, by Andrew Loomis
A classic in the field of figurative drawing. In this book, illustrator, designer and publicist Andrew Loomis tells everything you need to know to draw beautifully.
100% recommended for anyone who wants to learn about drawing. Realistic in style, it teaches the basics of three-dimensional drawing, planes, composition and scales.
It also provides instructions on how to handle light and shadow, tones and color,
Successful Drawing is made to serve the interests of draftsmen with different levels, with excellently graded instructions and guides.
If you didn’t know Loomis, you’ll love this book. And if you already knew him, reading this book will reinforce your love for him.
5. Panel One: Comic Book Scripts by Top Writers, by Nat Gertler
There is no unified convention for what a comic book script should look like. However, Gertler went to the trouble of compiling a wide variety of scripts from the industry’s top writers: Neil Gaiman, Jeff Smith, Kurt Busiek, among others.
Scripts are a fundamental part of comic book production, but in general almost no one is lucky enough to see them. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to see film scripts and compare them to film, you know what I’m talking about.
In this book, both Gertler and the authors themselves present the scripts, commenting on the production context and analyzing the works.
If writing screenplays is your thing, or if you are curious about the skeleton of those comics you like so much, this book is for you.
6. The System of Comics, by Thierry Groensteen
Of particular interest to experts, in this book, Groensteen develops concepts for approaching the language of comics. Although it is not an easy read, it is an explanation of why we can speak of this discipline not as a genre, but as an art in itself. If you want to delve deeper into concepts discussed by Eisner and McCloud, it is recommended that you read this. Highly recommended for academics, professionals and art advocates.
7. Do the Gods Wear Capes? Spirituality, Fantasy and Superheroes, by Ben Saunders
Definitely a book to learn about the essence of superheroes. True, there are already books on the relationship between superheroes and mythology.
Beyond that, this one is special. Saunders offers us a sharp literary and popular culture analysis to establish the link between heroes and metaphysical entities. It will come as no surprise that after reading this, you will see Superman in a different light.
Highly recommended for comic book artists, screenwriters, and those curious about this art.
8. A Comics Studies Reader, by Heer and Worcester
A compendium of essays, articles and excerpts from other books, with different approaches to comics. In this book there are writings as early as Topffer’s, as well as texts by contemporaries such as Chris Ware.
It is not limited to texts on comics only from the United States, but also includes texts on Manga, Latin American and European comics.
A good gateway to the academic world for comics fans, and not to be underestimated if you are interested in research.
9. Fun with a Pencil, by Andrew Loomis
Last, but by no means least, we have another gem from Loomis. This is his first book, published in 1939, and is a wonderful introduction to drawing, cartooning and portraiture.
With instructions from the great Professor Blook (Loomis’ alter ego) learning to draw has never been so much fun. Fun with a Pencil is an essential book for beginners in drawing, who are looking to become comic artists.
It is also a great reference book for any library. Indispensable as teaching material for teachers and self-taught drawing students.
As we mentioned and you may have appreciated, these books are the holy grail of every comic artist, each one with a different teaching, You should really consider having them with you, because they will be of great help, not to say essential, in your artistic development.