Recently, after a stint of reading a bunch of great comics, I got inspired, and thought, “I’ll make comics!” Or maybe I had just read a bunch of sexist comics not fit to use as kitty litter and thought, “God, I could make a way better comic than that.”
I quickly discovered a difficult truth: making comics is hard!
I can’t draw! Characters’ facial expressions are impossible to capture and drawing hands, wtf? Also, combining words and pictures - how does that work? I know I like reading stories this way, but why? How do I make a story that’s interesting and not just me rambling on about my cat? Or how can I make me and my cat look really great?
Luckily, there are some amazing resources available.
Jessica Abel and Matt Madden recently put out a book called Drawing Words and Writing Pictures. It’s a beautifully designed and endlessly useful comics resource. Abel and Madden have structured the book as a comics course, so each chapter is a lesson with history, instructions, examples and homework. For anyone who has graduated or dropped out and misses structured education, this book is like a comic correspondence course. Every aspect of the complex world of comic-making is explored: pencilling, inking and lettering, character design, story structure, and even publishing.
Jessica Abel is best known for her graphic novel, La Perdida, the amazing story of a young American women exploring her familial roots in Mexico and getting wrapped up in an intense political situation. Abel also recently scripted Life Sucks, a hilarious, post-modern comic about a vampire who’s forced to work in a convenience store for all eternity. I love Abel’s art and writing, and she turns out to be a great teacher too.
She has a fun and awesome approach to making comics, with a particular focus on character design. Oh yeah, and she’s seven years old.
Have you ever tried making comics? Ever created an awesome one? Drawn a stick figure with a word balloon that says “I stink” and written your co-worker’s name underneath? Please try it! Don’t forget the stink lines.