*Manga Secrets — Recommended

I wanted to jump into this how-to book as soon as I received it. It’s immediately welcoming, with well-laid-out pages, lots of attractive spot color, and an approach that suggests that anyone can draw manga with its help.

Manga Secrets cover
Manga Secrets
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Lea Hernandez clearly knows her stuff. She’s created her own manga-influenced graphic novels and worked as a retouch artist and manga rewriter. The introduction is done as a comic strip, demonstrating her art style while communicating her love of manga and the start of its history. She states from the beginning that, while manga style is hot, there’s a lot more to it than superficial design elements, providing an important grounding for aspiring artists.

After a glossary and list of suggested art supplies, the first section begins with a focus on features: eyes, mouths, hair, hands, feet, and overall expression. The second section is “Characters and Creatures”, a gallery of people, animals, and monsters. The last section covers setting, props, backgrounds, and page construction.

Most of the examples are printed in a pencil line that hasn’t been overly cleaned up, as though the reader is getting to look through an artist’s working sketchbook. The pages are easy to read due to plenty of white space with explanatory notes. I like the way Hernandez emphasizes giving characters different ages and avoiding overused types and elements.

The highest compliment I can pay this book is that it made me want to draw. I wanted to read it with pencil in hand so I could try out the suggestions and lessons. Even though I’m no longer an artist, I learned a lot about manga expectations and conventions, which will help me in understanding the manga I read.

9 Responses to “*Manga Secrets — Recommended”

  1. Joshua Macy Says:

    Haven’t looked at this, ’cause it’s a really crowded field. Lea’s a much better choice for an author of a book like this than some hack like Christopher Hart, who never tried to draw in a manga-like style in his life before he set out to write a how-to book, but I wonder if there’s something that sets her approach to teaching this stuff apart from all the others?

  2. Johanna Says:

    I like her straight-shooting approach. I have faith that she’s telling me what works without a lot of waffling or suger-coating. As I mentioned above, one of the most useful sections to me as a reader was when she covered ways to make things fresher instead of relying on the same overused elements.

  3. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Lea Hernandez has also written the how-to guide Manga Secrets. She illustrated the first Hardy Boys graphic novel, The Ocean of Osyria, Killer Princesses (written by Gail Simone), and contributed to the Dignifying Science anthology. She has a livejournal. […]

  4. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Lea Hernandez has also written the how-to guide Manga Secrets and created Cathedral Child and Clockwork Angels. You can preview this book at the NBM website. […]

  5. Who Should Write How-To Books? » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Lea Hernandez wants to know: Would you buy a sequel to her how-to book Manga Secrets? […]

  6. Random Passerby Says:

    I don’t find her style appealing, or particularly “manga”. Perhaps you don’t have to draw well to teach well, but it certainly helps.

  7. Nicole_artist Says:

    I have this book, and it’s helped me so much to improve. Every manga style is different, and this one is an appealing and good one. If there was a sequel I’d buy it.

  8. Fallenangel Says:

    Her book is great,I’m also a manga-ka and
    i am really inspired by her work.A question.Carmen is a boy or a girl or both?

  9. *Essential Books About Manga — Recommended » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] how-to books, of which there are more than enough. I’ve previously reviewed two how-to books: Manga Secrets is straight-forward and includes the basics, while Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga is satiric. […]




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