The Comic Book Lesson

A Graphic Novel That Shows You How to Make Comics

About the Book

An aspiring young creator learns the fundamentals of visual storytelling from three comic book mentors in this charming illustrated tale—a graphic novel that teaches you how to turn your stories into comics!

Acclaimed illustrator and graphic novelist Mark Crilley returns with a new approach to learning the essential elements of making comics. His easy-to-follow instruction about comic book art, design, and storytelling provides aspiring creators a one-of-a-kind how-to experience.
In The Comic Book Lesson, you’ll meet Emily—an enthusiastic young comics fan who has a story she needs to tell. On her quest to turn that story into a comic book, Emily meets three helpful mentors who share their knowledge. Trudy, a high school student who works at the local comics shop, teaches Emily how to create expressive characters and how art can convey action and suspense. Madeline, a self-published manga artist, teaches Emily how to use panel composition and layout to tell a story visually and how to develop a comic from script to sketch to finished pages. Sophie, a professional graphic novelist, guides Emily through fine-tuning the details of dialogue, sequence, and pacing to lead readers through the story.
Page by page, you’ll discover more about the events that drive Emily to create her comic book as her mentors teach her (and you!) about the fundamentals of visual narrative and comic book art. Each lesson builds on the previous one, guiding you through the steps of planning and creating your comic, with accompanying exercises you can try for yourself. Are you ready to start your comic book lesson today?
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The Comic Book Lesson


I had this idea: to teach people how to make comics by presenting lessons in the form of an actual comic book story. The two things seemed like a match made in heaven, but showing someone how to make comics is no small task. Even the simplest comic involves not only writing and drawing, but also designing characters, laying out pages, and wrestling with the surprisingly tricky matter of knowing where to put all those speech bubbles.

Unfortunately, many aspiring comic book creators get distracted by matters of style, focusing all their energies on learning how to draw particular things such as superheroes or manga characters. But you can’t make a good comic if you don’t grasp the basic nuts and bolts of how comic book storytelling works: that delicate dance between words and pictures that occurs the moment you begin putting one panel next to another.

So, no, this book won’t show you how to draw specific things, or tell you what kinds of ink pens or software you should buy. Because you can’t make great comics simply by buying a bunch of stuff, or by learning how to draw awesome-looking capes.

It really comes down to learning how to think the way a comic book creator does. Each new panel presents you with endless options for what you’re going to show to the reader, and how you’re going to show it. Your job is to consider those options, weighing one against the other, and then choose the one that will best convey that next little beat of the story. This is at the heart of every comic anyone has ever made, whether it’s about intergalactic aliens, the French Revolution, or a couple of dudes sitting around playing cards.

My hope is that you’re at least a little like Emily, the main character in this story. She’s not looking for drawing lessons, or for a list of things she has to buy. She’s got her sights set on something much more fundamental than that: How do you transform an idea that’s stuck in your brain into an actual comic book story? If that’s something you’re eager to learn, then read on. This book is for you.

About the Author

Mark Crilley
Mark Crilley was raised in Detroit, Michigan. After graduating from Kalamazoo College, he traveled to Taiwan and Japan, where he taught English for nearly five years. It was during his stay in Japan that he created the Eisner Award–nominated comic Akiko on the Planet Smoo, which spawned a series of graphic novels and prose novel adaptations. In 1998, Mark Crilley was named to Entertainment Weekly’s It List of the 100 most creative people in entertainment. More by Mark Crilley
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