Girls Discover Wizard Sexist

Recently, a bunch of online commentators have been discussing how Wizard‘s how-to guide objectifies women. At first, all this hoo-hah sounded to me rather like Claude Rains’ character in Casablanca: “I am shocked, SHOCKED to find that gambling is going on in here!” Who doesn’t know that Wizard is targeted at adolescent (in mind if not still in body) males? Of course their view of women is of unknown creatures only to be stared at, because that’s how teenage boys […]

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Head Cases

Steven Grant (Permanent Damage columnist and comic book writer) has released a new PDF book, Head Cases. His earlier volume, Totally Obvious, was a fascinating, informative read, and this book is no different. It’s a collection of nine comic scripts. There are few enough scriptbooks (Panel One and its successor Panel Two are the ones I recommend) that simply collecting more examples from a working writer with a long career is valuable in itself. But beyond that, there’s the introduction, […]

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99 Ways to Tell a Story

99 Ways to Tell a Story has been billed as a how-to book, but it’s more accurate to talk about it in reference to its subtitle. Matt Madden has been conducting “Exercises in Style”, telling the same short comic story 99 different ways (inspired by the work of Raymond Queneau). Madden is known as a proponent of formalism, the idea that creativity isn’t necessarily constrained by boundaries. Instead, artificial restraints (like restricting the number of pages or requiring that a […]

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Panel Two

Panel Two is a followup to Panel One, a book edited by Nat Gertler collecting sample comic scripts by notable writers, that improves on the first in two ways: it covers even more diverse ways to write comics, and it includes commentary by many of the artists involved. As well as learning basic information (pros and cons of full script vs. just panel descriptions, for example, or a list of art reference books), you’ll be entertained by the occasional horror […]

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Totally Obvious

While travelling one weekend, I got the chance to read Totally Obvious: The Complete Master of the Obvious Collection in its handy, laptop-friendly PDF format. It’s all of Steven Grant’s essays published online under that title from 1999-2001, almost 300 pages of good writing and great insight. Most of what I’ve learned about comics — the medium, the industry, the artform, the business — has come in bits and pieces over more than a decade now. There are very few […]

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The Science of Superheroes

This readable popular science book has an interesting hook: superhero stories are used to introduce discussions of various scientific questions. Batman brings up gadgets and jetpacks; Spider-Man means spiders and cloning; Green Lantern, black holes and color theory. There’s also a chapter in The Science of Superheroes on the EC science fiction comics — although it sounds as though it’s more accurate to describe them as science-less morality tales — and DC’s Strange Adventures and Mystery in Space. The latter […]

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Manga Secrets

I wanted to jump into this how-to book as soon as I received it. Manga Secrets is 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. 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 […]

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