Maker Comics: Draw a Comic!
Continuing the excellent Maker Comics line, JP Coovert’s Draw a Comic! is a fun celebration of the love of comics, both as reader and creator, with a surprising amount of technical guidance.
There’s a story, too. Maggie and her (talking) dog Rex (it’s a comic) are putting together a new comic library in honor of her grandfather, who used to read Tintin to her and wanted to share the love of comics with everyone. This open acceptance is a hallmark of the book, and it creates a welcoming atmosphere that really helps aspiring creators feel included. That’s a necessary first step to encouraging artistic attempts.
Coovert’s style is deceptively simple, which also helps. His characters look easy to copy, another common early step in learning to make comics.
Maggie enlists the reader as her new assistant, and when they need a break from organizing and cleaning, Maggie gives them lessons in comic-making, beginning with understanding panels, character expressions, text, and sound effects. Other projects include scripting, thumbnails, pacing, page layout, lettering, and backgrounds. By the end of the book, if the reader follows along, they will have made their very own comic!
The team also visits a comic book store and an art supply store, where they learn about various supplies for drawing, erasing, and inking, including paper types. A visit to a copy shop talks about reproduction. There is the passing mention of computers at various points, mostly in terms of scanning and printing multiples, but the emphasis here is on getting readers started, which means minicomics, including the classic eight panel layout made from one sheet of paper.
I really appreciated that the opening warning, typical of books aimed at kids, not only covered “be careful with scissors” but also mentioned ergonomic concerns, such as stretching regularly and not hunching over. I also adored how Maggie is shown loving all kinds of comics, regardless of format or genre.
If I have any quibble with this book, it’s that every time Maggie mentioned her grandfather’s goal “to have the largest collection of comics in the world”, I laughed at the images showing the relatively small size of her library. I have a basement full of comics (over 500 short boxes), and that’s only DC, Marvel, and Archie. There are just too many comics being made these days, once you consider serialized floppies, graphic novels and manga, newspaper strips, and web comics (all of which are acknowledged here), for anyone to have that many of them — and that’s a terrific thing!
Maker Comics: Draw a Comic! is my new favorite starting point for aspiring creators, particularly younger ones.