Stan Lee's Master Class

Lessons in Drawing, World-Building, Storytelling, Manga, and Digital Comics from the Legendary Co-creator of Spider-Man, The Avengers, and The Incredible Hulk

About the Book

From the co-creator of the Mighty Marvel Universe and some of the most popular comic book characters of all time comes an in-depth comics drawing instruction book revealing the tools, styles, and techniques of today's top comics artists.

Focusing on topics like anatomy, perspective, and character design, as well as brand new topics like manga art styles, digital art, and more, Stan Lee's Master Class is the next step for those looking to perfect their superhero rendering and create fantastic worlds perfect for today's modern comic book audience. With examples from his classic collaborations at Marvel Comics and from today's top comics artists, Lee builds on concepts only touched upon in his previous instructional offerings and provides a pathway for aspiring artists to bring their comic book artwork to professional-quality levels.

Advance praise for Stan Lee’s Master Class

“Stan Lee dedicated his life to perfecting the art and craft of comic book storytelling. Stan Lee’s Master Class distills his decades of experience into practical and clearly explained lessons to help you make the best comics you can. It’s like having Stan looking over your shoulder.”—Danny Fingeroth, longtime colleague of Stan Lee, and author of A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee
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Praise for Stan Lee's Master Class

Stan Lee’s Master Class is an insightful deep-dive into the world of comic book art and storytelling as only the master himself could deliver!”—Mariano Nicieza, Marvel editor and art director, and illustrator for the award-winning graphic novel Stan Lee’s God Woke 

“Stan was a born storyteller. Working with very talented artists, he created wonderful characters and told their exciting stories visually in comic books. Now he’s passing along a lot of that priceless knowledge.”—Larry Leiber, writer and artist on the classic 1960s Marvel comics Thor, Ant Man, and Spider-Man 

“Despite the many years that I’ve been working in comics as a writer and an editor, Stan Lee continues to both inspire and instruct me—and countless others—daily with his brilliant work on many of the greatest comics ever published, as well as his advice and invaluable insights into creating any imaginable type of comics.”—Jim Salicrup, editor-in-chief and founder of Papercutz
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Stan Lee's Master Class


Hey, True Believers! We meet again.

I know, I know; you’re scratching your head and wondering what’s left to be said about drawing comics that we need a new volume. A Master Class, no less. What’s a “Master Class,” you ask? Beats me, having never taught one before, but having worked with the masters of storytelling for eighty years, I have picked up more tips and techniques than could fit in just one volume. So, if you haven’t yet read Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics, start there. After devouring that and practicing your skills for a while, you’ll be ready for what follows.

While the techniques have grown increasingly sophisticated since the days we were lucky enough to have pencil and ink for the art, the need to tell a clear, exciting story has not changed in the slightest. Readers need to know who is in each panel, what they’re doing, and where they’re doing it. The exciting part comes next, making it visually compelling. I developed the instincts to find the most dramatic and exhilarating angles and perspectives so the reader had no choice but to turn the page. Back before you could easily attend conventions or even take courses on graphic storytelling, John Buscema and I first put our joint experiences together in How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, a classic if ever I saw one. There, we show how you can take a perfectly good, but ordinary, moment and find a way to capture the reader’s attention and add some drama.

When I next cobbled together my thoughts in the first book in this series, I expanded the examples by showing you how the greatest artists throughout comics history told their stories, designed their characters, and made their fantastic worlds feel familiar. While I still go back to the classic pioneers, from Jack Kirby to Jim Steranko, I also make sure to include current favorites here. As you study the following pages, you will see how the styles have grown more sophisticated and realistic, but also pay heed to the larger-than-life needs of our kind of storytelling.

This time around, I go even further by including the internationally acclaimed and highly influential Japanese style of comic art, known as manga. We’ll examine the styles: chibi (cute), shoujo (romance), shounen (action), furry friends and magical creatures, and, of course, monsters.

In every case and with every style, there remain certain basics that cannot be ignored, especially if you want to earn the title of “master artist.” You have to talk the talk and walk the walk, my friend, and here I take you through the current terminology and tools of the trade. Man, if I had a laptop, I could have dialogued pages during the 1965 blackout rather than write by candlelight. You guys have it easy today, let me tell you.

Again, regardless of the style you develop, whether you’re influenced by Van Gogh or McFarlane, Kirby or Cho, you still need to understand the basics of anatomy, especially when putting your characters into action. I’ll walk you through a dozen useful body poses to get you started. But that’s not all! No, effendi, I also tackle the challenging, but necessary, perspective to ground your action in a realistic setting. We’ll start you easy with one-point perspective but get you up to experimenting with curvilinear perspective and creating depth.

Now, I mentioned “realistic” a few lines ago, but clearly, not every story is set in New York City. Through the years, I’ve had to help imagine countless alien races from awe-inspiring galaxies and new civilizations. I’ll share some of the tips I’ve learned along the way from lifeforms to machinery, architecture to clothing. After all, the Skrulls couldn’t buy off the rack at Macy’s, could they?

Let’s say you’ve diligently worked your way through all this and are ready for more. Then we begin to put it together as you tell your story. For me, pacing is incredibly vital, so the action rises and falls, with each page forcing you to turn to the next. You’ll learn how to design a page and wrench every drop of emotional drama out of each panel. You have to make sure the reader is rooting for the hero, hissing the villain, and hoping Earth survives to see another sunrise.

Let’s say you’re an artist but don’t think you’re ready to tell your own stories. No problem. For my Master Class students, I provide you with three practice scripts so you can practice without worry.

Now, books like this don’t happen without a little help. This time, Dynamite Entertainment recruited Keith Dallas, David Roach, and Robert Greenberger to help me take you through the ins and outs of contemporary comic book drawing. Follow these tips and guidelines, learn to walk before you run, and in due time, you will feel like a master. The results are something I can only look forward to so for now, I wish you the very best of luck.



About the Author

Stan Lee
Stan Lee is the co-creator of the most beloved characters in the history of comics, including Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, and many others. He is also the author of Stan Lee's Riftworld: Odyssey, and the editor of The Ultimate Spider-Man, The Ultimate Super-Villains, The Ultimate Silver Surfer, and The Ultimate X-Men, all from Boulevard. More by Stan Lee
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