Manga Art: Inspiration and Techniques from an Expert Illustrator

Manga Art by Mark Crilley header

I haven’t seen an art book quite like Manga Art: Inspiration and Techniques from an Expert Illustrator before. I’ve enjoyed Mark Crilley’s work for a long while, both his fiction comics (dating from Akiko) and his how-to-make-comics volumes. This is the book that comes closest to giving a good idea of what he really likes and wants to do.

It’s simply a book of illustrations, all relating to manga in some way. In his introduction, Crilley praises the “atmosphere of complete artistic freedom” that he was working in. He was able to come up with ideas and execute them, in whatever approach and with whatever tools he wished. For a working artist, that’s sweet freedom, because he didn’t have to follow a brief or be closely edited. He seems really happy to be doing art for its own sake, and that comes across in the presentation and the essays also included, looking back at pieces of his career.

Manga Art: Inspiration and Techniques from an Expert Illustrator

The five chapters are loosely grouped as characters, Japanese culture, science fiction, unusual concepts, and “styleplay”, where he works inspired by a range of different artists. There’s also text that explains his techniques, including equipment, and inspirations, as well as suggestions for the reader to try making their own images.

It was really refreshing flipping through all these varied pieces of art and reading about how they came together. The good attitude behind the work came through, and that’s what makes this such a great guide for an aspiring artist. It concentrates on voice and purpose instead of craft tips, which are more easily found. Here’s a gallery of selected pieces.

(The publisher provided a review copy.)

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