Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics
was published in 1993, just as "Comics Aren't Just for Kids Anymore!" articles were starting to appear and graphic novels were making their way into the mainstream, and it quickly gave the newly respectable medium the theoretical and practical manifesto it needed. With his clear-eyed and approachable analysis--done using the same comics tools he was describing--McCloud quickly gave "sequential art" a language to understand itself. McCloud made the simplest of drawing decisions seem deep with artistic potential.
Thirteen years later, following the Internet evangelizing of Reinventing Comics, McCloud has returned with Making Comics.
Designed as a craftsperson's overview of the drawing and storytelling decisions and possibilities available to comics artists, covering everything from facial expressions and page layout to the choice of tools and story construction, Making Comics, like its predecessors, is also an eye-opening trip behind the scenes of art-making, fascinating for anyone reading comics as well as those making them. Get a sense of the range of his lessons by clicking through to the opening pages of his book, including his (illustrated, of course) table of contents (warning: large file, recommended for high-bandwidth users):
From Publishers Weekly
Every medium should be lucky enough to have a taxonomist as brilliant as McCloud. The follow-up to his pioneering Understanding Comics
(and its flawed sequel Reinventing Comics
) isn't really about how to draw comics: it's about how to make drawings become a story and how cartooning choices communicate meaning to readers. ("There are no rules," he says, "and here they are.") McCloud's cartoon analogue, now a little gray at the temples, walks us through a series of dazzlingly clear, witty explanations (in comics form) of character design, storytelling, words and their physical manifestation on the page, body language and other ideas cartoonists have to grapple with, with illustrative examples drawn from the history of the medium. If parts of his chapter on "Tools, Techniques and Technology" don't look like they'll age well, most of the rest of the book will be timelessly useful to aspiring cartoonists. McCloud likes to boil down complicated topics to a few neatly balanced principles; his claim that all facial expressions come from degrees and combinations of six universal basic emotions is weirdly reductive and unnerving, but it's also pretty convincing. And even the little ideas that he tosses off—like classifying cartoonists into four types—will be sparking productive arguments for years to come. (Sept.)
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