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23/03/2018 45 Essential Books for Comic Creators - Jason Thibault

JASON THIBAULT
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45 Essential
Books for Comic
Creators Pen and Ink Techniques of
JANUARY 24, 2018 BY JASON THIBAULT 0 COMMENTS the Masters

243
SHARES

5 Reasons to Draw in Pen


and Ink (and Sometimes
Big) – REVISITED!

As an obsessive list maker, I started putting this catalog


of “how to” books for comic creators together a few
months ago.

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I then turned to James Lynch’s extremely resourceful How to Save DC Films in 2


‘Easy’ Steps
Facebook Group – Connecting Comic Book Writers and
Artists to help me fill in the gaps. Many thanks to Shawn
Demumbrum, Robert Menegus, Simon Robins , Fred
Kinslow, Kenn O’Neal and so many others for
suggesting titles that I missed.

It’s not a perfect list, and there’s several books from my


own library that I haven’t included here due to going out
of print. But it’s a good start. I’m sure I’ll add in a dozen
45 Essential Books for
more titles throughout the year. Comic Creators

[Disclaimer: the links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you


purchase a book through one of these links, I get a
kickback that helps fund the high-speed hosting of this
site and occasionally a coffee down the road. Many of
these books are also available through your local library
and friendly neighborhood comic shop.]

Table of Contents The Definitive List of


Comic Publisher
General Comics Theory Submission Guidelines for
Books on Writing Comics 2018
Books on How To Draw Comics
Books for Lettering Comics
Books for Coloring Comics
Books on Self-Publishing Comics and Graphic
Novels
The Creative Process

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‘Bookographic’ created by Massive Kontent.

General Comics Theory


There is a wealth of books covering the creation of
comics including university texts. I chose to stick with
the mainstays. You can’t go wrong with either Scott
McCloud’s trilogy or Will Eisner’s classics. 

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Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art |


Scott McCloud

If you only read one book on this list… Scott McCloud’s


Understanding Comics is a seminal examination of
comics art: its rich history, surprising technical
components, and major cultural significance. Explore the
secret world between the panels, through the lines, and
within the hidden symbols of a powerful but
misunderstood art form.

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Reinventing Comics: The Evolution of an


Art Form | Scott McCloud

McCloud takes comics to the next level, charting twelve


different revolutions in how comics are created, read,
and perceived today, and how they’re poised to conquer
the new millennium.
Part One of this fascinating and in-depth book includes:

The life of comics as an art form and as literature


The battle for creators’ rights
Reinventing the business of comics
The volatile and shifting public perceptions of
comics
Sexual and ethnic representation on comics

Then in Part Two, McCloud paints a breathtaking picture


of comics’ digital revolutions, including:

The intricacies of digital production


The exploding world of online delivery

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The ultimate challenges of the infinite digital


canvas

Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of


Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels | Scott
McCloud

In Making Comics, McCloud focuses his analysis on the


art form itself, exploring the creation of comics, from the
broadest principles to the sharpest details (like how to
accentuate a character’s facial muscles in order to form
the emotion of disgust rather than the emotion of
surprise.) And he does all of it in his inimitable voice and
through his cartoon stand–in narrator, mixing dry humor
and legitimate instruction.

McCloud shows his reader how to master the human


condition through word and image in a brilliantly
minimalistic way. Both comic book devotees and the
uninitiated will marvel at this journey into a once–
underappreciated art form.

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Comics and Sequential Art: Principles and


Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist |
Will Eisner

Will Eisner refines the art of graphic storytelling into clear


principles that every cartoonist, comic artist, writer, and
filmmaker needs to know. Adapted from his landmark
course at New York’s School of Visual Arts, Comics and
Sequential Art is an essential text filled with invaluable
theories and easy-to-use techniques.

Eisner reveals here the fundamentals of graphic


storytelling. He addresses dialogue, anatomy, framing,
and many other important aspects of the art form. Fully
updated and revised to reflect current practices and
technology, including a section on digital media.

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229 9 3 2

Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative |


Will Eisner

Will Eisner lays out the fundamentals of storytelling and


their application in the comic book and graphic novel.
Eisner reveals how to construct a story and the basics of
crafting a visual narrative. Filled with examples from
Eisner’s work as well as that of artists like Art
Spiegelman and R. Crumb, this book covers everything
from the fine points of graphic storytelling to the big
picture of the medium, including how to:

Combine words and images into seamless


storytelling.
Wield images like narrative tools.
Master different types of comic book stories.
Write and illustrate effective dialogue.
Develop ideas that can be turned into dynamic
stories.

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Make Comics Like the Pros: The Inside


Scoop on How to Write, Draw, and Sell
Your Comic Books and Graphic Novels |
Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente

A step-by-step guide to all aspects of comic book


creation–from conceptualization to early drafts to
marketing and promotion–written by two of the industry’s
most seasoned and successful pros.

In Make Comics Like the Pros, veteran comics creators


Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente team up with a who’s who
of the modern comic book scene to lead you step-by-
step through the development of a comic. You’ll learn
everything from script formatting to the importance of
artistic collaboration to the best strategies for promoting
and selling your own sequential art.

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The DC Comics Guide to Creating Comics:


Inside the Art of Visual Storytelling | Carl
Potts

This is a great resource for aspiring comics creators


looking to make comics like the experts at DC Comics.
This book shows readers how to take full advantage of
comics’ sequential visual storytelling possibilities. With
examples direct from DC Comics, featuring their best
creators and classic superheroes like Batman,
Superman, and the rest of the Justice League, it
presents key principles and techniques for crafting
professional-quality comics.

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Words for Pictures: The Art and Business


of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels |
Brian Michael Bendis

Brian Michael Bendis reveals the tools and techniques


he and other top creators use to create some of the most
popular comic book and graphic novel stories of all time.
Words for Pictures shows readers the creative methods
of a writer at the very top of his field. Bendis guides
creators through each step of the comics-making
process—from idea to script to finished sequential art—
for fan favorite comics like The Avengers, Ultimate
Spider-Man, Uncanny X-Men, and more.

Tips and insights from other working writers, artists, and


editors are also included providing an extensive look
behind the creative curtain of the comics industry. The
book contains script samples, a glossary of must-know
business terms for writers, and interactive comics-writing
exercises.

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Foundations in Comic Book Art: SCAD


Creative Essentials (Fundamental Tools
and Techniques for Sequential Artists) |
John Paul Lowe

In Foundations for Comic Book Art, the Savannah


College of Art and Design (SCAD) enlists one of its top
instructors, John Paul Lowe, to provide aspiring comic
book makers with a thorough primer for creative comics,
featuring must-know concepts like contour drawing,
mastering perspective, using photo-reference, and
adding digital patterns.

Lowe provides easy-to-follow, step-by-step lessons and


exercises for readers, demonstrating the vital processes
all would-be sequential artists have to know before
joining the ranks of the comic book–making elite.

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Drawing Words and Writing Pictures:


Making Comics: Manga, Graphic Novels,
and Beyond | Jessica Abel, Matt Madden

Drawing Words and Writing Pictures is a course on


comic creation – for college classes or for independent
study – that centers on storytelling and concludes with
making a finished comic. There’s chapters on lettering,
story structure, and panel layout providing a solid
introduction for people interested in making their own
comics..

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How Comics Work | Dave Gibbons, Tim


Pilcher

The artist behind juggernauts like Watchmen and The


Green Lantern, Dave Gibbons teaches you scriptwriting,
page layouts, lettering, cover designs and uses scans of
original artwork and rarely seen workings to illustrate his
personal processes.

How Comics Work covers both Gibbons’ hand-drawn


and digital design techniques in depth. You’ll learn how
he layers text for editing, creates effects such as flares
and neon glows, and prepares artwork for print and
online.

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Creating Comics from Start to Finish: Top


Pros Reveal the Complete Creative
Process | Buddy Scalera

Scalera’s book tells you everything about how today’s


mainstream comic books are produced and published.
Top working professionals detail how comics are created
from concept to completion.

Every step of the process including writing, editing,


penciling, inking, coloring, lettering and even publishing
are covered. Working professionals talk candidly about
breaking into (and staying in) the industry.

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Writing and Illustrating the Graphic Novel:


Everything You Need to Know to Create
Great Work and Get It Published | Daniel
Cooney

This book gives detailed instruction in all aspects of


graphic novel composition–creating characters and
plots, and transforming them into dynamic illustrations
that tell an interesting story. The introduction describes
uses of tools of the trade, from drawing pencils, inks,
and paper to word processing and Adobe Photoshop
software.
Other chapters include:

The language of comics and graphic novels


Establishing characters and story structure
Scripting the story
Illustrating the story, from sketches to finished art
Selling the finished product
Instruction includes how-to techniques for creating
layouts, panels, captions, dialogue, panel

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transitions, and angles of view.

Books on Writing Comics


Over the past 2 decades there have been several
notable collections of comic scripts (From Hell, Writers
on Comic Scriptwriting Vols 1 & 2). But none of them
remain in print. Below these books on writing I’ve linked
to a fantastic resource for writers – as a lot of the
material has moved to the web. 

The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics |


Denis O’Neil

Dennis O’Neil reveals his insider tricks and no-fail


techniques for comic storytelling. Readers will discover
the various methods of writing scripts (full script vs. plot
first), as well as procedures for developing a story
structure, building subplots, and creating well-rounded
characters. O’Neil also explains the many diverse
formats for comic books, including graphic novels, maxi-
series, mega-series, and adaptation. Also included are
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dozens of guidelines for writing proposals to editors that


command attention and get results.

Alan Moore’s Writing For Comics Volume


1 | Alan Moore

The master of comic book writing shares his thoughts on


how to deliver a top-notch script. The main essay was
originally written in 1985 and appeared in an obscure
British fanzine, right as Moore was reshaping the
landscape of modern comics, and had been lost. Avatar
brings it back in print, collected for the first time as one
graphic novel.

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The Art of Comic Book Writing: The


Definitive Guide to Outlining, Scripting,
and Pitching Your Sequential Art Stories |
Mark Kneece

Comics writer and SCAD instructor Mark Kneece gives


aspiring comic book writers the essential tools they need
to write scripts for sequential art. He provides a practical
set of guidelines favored by many comic book
publishers and uses a unique trial and error approach to
show would-be scribes the potential pitfalls they might
encounter when seeking a career in comics writing.

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Panel One: Comic Book Scripts by Top


Writers | Various
Contains annotations, plots, interviews, and scripts by
many of comics’ hottest writers, including Kurt Busiek,
Neil Gaiman, Greg Rucka, Kevin Smith, Jeff Smith, Marv
Wolfman, and more.

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The 2000 AD Script Book | Various

Original scripts by comics writers accompanied by the


final art, taken from the pages of the world famous 2000
AD comic. Rebellion presents an extensive collection of
2000 AD scripts, featuring original script drafts and the
final published artwork for comparison.

Additional Resources:
Comic Writer Services is a resource for aspiring and
experienced comic book writers.
The aim of the website was to improve on, and update, a
similar resource that Caleb Monroe had compiled many
years ago for aspiring comic book writers.
The idea is to list every notable article and resource on
the art and craft of comic book writing.

Books on How To Draw Comics


With comics being a visual medium, there is no end of
books on how to draw, ink, or digitally create pages.

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Here’s some of the best ones out there.

Framed Ink: Drawing and Composition for


Visual Storytellers | Marcos Mateu-Mestre

Using his experiences from working in the comic book


industry, movie studios and teaching, Marcos introduces
the reader to a step-by-step system that will create the
most successful storyboards and graphics for the best
visual communication.

Marcos introduces us to drawing and composing a


single image, to composing steady shots to drawing to
compose for continuity between all the shots. These
lessons are then applied to three diverse story lines – a
train accident, a cowboy tale and bikers approaching a
mysterious house.

In addition to setting up the shots, he also explains and


illustrates visual character development, emotive
stances and expressions along with development of the

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environmental setting to fully develop the visual


narrative.

Framed Perspective Vol. 1: Technical


Perspective and Visual Storytelling |
Marcos Mateu-Mestre

Framed Perspective 1 gives artists the technical


knowledge needed to produce successful visual
storytelling-related drawings: from understanding the
basics of the space around us all the way to more
sophisticated endeavors, like creating entire locations
that will become the believable set ups our characters
and stories will happen within.

The book includes extensive step-by-step practical


explanations of how to build objects and environments,
taking your first sketch to a fully rendered artwork with
many illustrations as examples.

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Framed Perspective Vol. 2: Technical


Drawing for Shadows, Volume, and
Characters | Marcos Mateu-Mestre
Building on the foundation established with the first book
in the series, Framed Perspective 2 guides artists
through the challenging tasks of projecting shadows in
proper perspective on a variety of environments and
working with characters in perspective set in particular
situation or setting.

Author and artist Marcos Mateu-Mestre reveals the many


techniques and mechanics he employs, including using
anatomy, shadows, and clothing folds to define the
shape and volume of characters within an environment.

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The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing


Comics | Freddie E Williams II

The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics


shows how to start drawing dynamic, exciting comics art
entirely with computer tools. Author Freddie E Williams,
in clear, step-by-step directions, guides readers through
every part of the digital process, from turning on the
computer to finishing a digital file of fully inked comic art,
ready for print.

Creating a template, sketching on the computer,


penciling, and finally inking digitally are all covered in
depth, along with timesaving shortcuts created by
Williams, tested by years of trial and error.

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The DC Comics Guide to Pencilling


Comics | Klaus Janson

Covering everything from anatomy to composition to


page design, Janson details the methods for creating
effective visual communication. Step by step, he
analyzes and demonstrates surefire strategies for comic
book pencilling. Using DC’s characters, he illustrates the
importance of knowing the fundamentals of art and how
best to use them.

The DC Comics Guide to Pencilling Comics is packed


with a wealth of tested techniques, practical advice, and
professional secrets for the aspiring artist.

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The DC Comics Guide to Inking Comics |


Klaus Janson

Legendary comic book inker Klaus Janson uses DC’s


characters—including Batman, Superman, and Wonder
Woman—to demonstrate an array of inking techniques,
covering such topics as using textures, varying line
weights, creating the illusion of three-dimensionality, and
working with light and dark.

A great how-to on everything from basic inking materials


to storytelling techniques, this sourcebook is packed
with a wealth of tested techniques, practical advice, and
professional secrets for the aspiring comic artist.

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How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way |


Stan Lee & John Buscema

The original! Stan Lee, and John Buscema, collaborated


on this comics compendium: an encyclopedia of
information for creating your own superhero comic
strips. Using artwork from Marvel comics as primary
examples, Buscema graphically illustrates various
methods of comic art. Stan Lee’s prose gives assistance
and advice to the apprentice artist.

And here’s more entertaining anecdotes about this book


from Jim Rugg –

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The Art Of Comic-Book Inking 2nd Edition


| Gary Martin

Gary Martin’s two volumes of The Art of Comic-Book


Inking have been combined into a single value-priced
volume and expanded with new material, including three
additional blue-lined artboards featuring pencil art by
master comics illustrators Jack Kirby, John Buscema,
and Gil Kane.

You’ll learn the techniques, tools, and approaches of


some of the finest artists in comics today, including Terry
Austin, Mark Farmer, Scott Williams, Alex Garner, and
more.

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How to Draw Noir Comics: The Art and


Technique of Visual Storytelling | Shawn
Martinbrough

Shawn Martinbrough tells you why he loves black and


white, then shows you how to do it. Lots of examples
and easy direction. If you were never excited about
black and white, you will be when you get this book in
your hands.

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Perspective! for Comic Book Artists: How


to Achieve a Professional Look in your
Artwork | David Chelsea

This clever book teaches artists the unique skill of


drawing perspective for spectacular landscapes,
fantastic interiors, and other wildly animated
backgrounds to fit comic-strip panels.

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Vanishing Point: Perspective for Comics


from the Ground Up | Jason Cheeseman-
Meyer

Vanishing Point shows you how to conquer the


fundamentals of perspective drawing and then equips
you with technical tricks and tools to make dynamic and
complex scenes.
Included:

Instruction on drawing in one-, two- and three-point


perspective and four- and five-point curvilinear
perspective (where “straight” lines are drawn as
curves).
Full-color, step-by-step demonstrations move you
beyond the theories and let you practice the
techniques in real scenes.
A special chapter on drawing curves helps you
break out of the box and draw cylinders, ellipses,
cars and, most importantly, people in perfect
perspective.

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Shortcuts and tips show you how to create


believable perspective quickly.

Rendering in Pen and Ink: The Classic


Book On Pen and Ink Techniques for
Artists, Illustrators, Architects, and
Designers | Arthur L. Guptill

Arthur L. Guptill’s classic Rendering in Pen and Ink has


long been regarded as the most comprehensive book
ever published on the subject of ink drawing. This is a
book designed to delight and instruct anyone who draws
with pen and ink, from the professional artist to the
amateur and hobbyist. It is of particular interest to
architects, interior designers, landscape architects,
industrial designers, illustrators, and renderers.

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Pen and Ink Drawing: A Simple Guide |


Alphonso Dunn

Pen & Ink Drawing: A Simple Guide covers the essential


aspects of pen and ink drawing and more. It explores
basic materials and instruments; fundamental properties
of strokes and pen control; key elements of shading; and
indispensable techniques for creating vibrant textures.

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Pen & Ink Techniques | Frank J. Lohan

Richly illustrated and containing dozens of simple


exercises, this book covers everything from the basic
tools and materials to the production of advanced
effects.

Author Frank Lohan presents dozens of exercises for


beginning, intermediate, and advanced artists. Topics
range from the creation of hatching, tones, and stippling
to dealing with the problems that can arise when adding
texture, light, and shade.

Books for Lettering Comics


There are precious few resources in print for comic
letterers. Hopefully Comicraft’s masterpiece never goes
out of print. Letterers often need to get creative in their
education mixing the disciplines of typography and
calligraphy.

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Comic Book Lettering The Comicraft Way |


Richard Starkings & J.G. Roshell

From the award-winning Comicraft studio, this full-color,


step-by-step guide of comic book lettering tips and
tricks is illustrated with two Hip Flask strips – one by Kurt
Busiek and Stuart Immonen, and the other by Jeph Loeb
and Ian Churchill.

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Creative Lettering and Beyond: Inspiring


tips, techniques, and ideas for hand
lettering your way to beautiful works of art
(Creative…and Beyond)

Creative Lettering and Beyond combines the artistic


talents and inspirational tips and tutorials of several
professional hand letterers and calligraphers for a
dynamic and interactive learning experience.

After a brief introduction to the various tools and


materials, artists and lettering enthusiasts will learn how
to master the art of hand lettering and typography
through engaging, easy-to-follow step-by-step projects,
prompts, and exercises. From the basic shape and form
of letters, to cursive script, spacing, and alignment,
artists will discover how to transform simple words,
phrases, and quotes into beautiful works of hand-
lettered art.

Books for Coloring Comics

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The bulk of education for colorists is online in the form of


YouTube tutorials. Luckily there’s these 2 books as well.

The DC Comics Guide to Coloring and


Lettering Comics | Mark Chiarello & Todd
Klein

Artists Mark Chiarello and Todd Klein demystify the


essential steps in traditional graphic storytelling.
Chiarello explains the entire coloring process, from
computer and software choice to creating color effects
that give the action its maximum impact.
Klein discusses whether to letter by hand or by
computer and demonstrates an array of techniques for
creating word balloons, fonts, logos, and more.

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Hi-Fi Color for Comics | Brian Miller, Kristy


Miller

You’ll learn digital coloring from start to finish–taking


black-and-white art to stunning full color!
Topics included:
Importing art, color flatting, light & shadow, color
selection, color rendering,advanced brush techniques,
color holds, special effects, and color separation.

Books on Self-Publishing Comics


and Graphic Novels
There’s no “one set way” to publish your own comic –
but you could do a lot worse than read these 3 books.

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Unnatural Talent: Creating, Printing and


Selling Your Comic in the Digital Age |
Jason Brubaker

Jason has done an excellent job at laying out all of the


trials and tribulations an aspiring graphic novelist / artist
needs to go through to break into the market. If you plan
on going into the field of comics as an artist or writer, this
essential read will explain in detail, exactly what it takes.

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The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing


Comics: How to Create and Sell Comic
Books, Manga, and Webcomics | Comfort
Love

With The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing Comics,


creators/instructors Comfort Love and Adam Withers
provide a step-by-step breakdown of the comics-making
process. You get in-depth coverage of each step—
writing, drawing, coloring, lettering, publishing, and
marketing.

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23/03/2018 45 Essential Books for Comic Creators - Jason Thibault

How to Self-Publish Comics: Not Just


Create Them | Josh Blaylock, Tim Seely

Josh Blaylock’s How-To prose book about the business


of comic book publishing, now includes Tim Seeley’s
companion writings on the behind-the-scenes realities of
being a comic book artist.

The Creative Process


Some of these books below will form the most important
and valuable parts of your library. You’ll return to ‘The
War of Art’ numerous times. Maybe even once a year.

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23/03/2018 45 Essential Books for Comic Creators - Jason Thibault

Eisner/Miller | Will Eisner

Two of the medium’s greatest contributors—legendary


innovator and godfather of sequential art Will Eisner, and
the modern master of cinematic comics storytelling,
Frank Miller—discuss one on one in an intimate interview
format, the ins-and-outs of this compelling and often
controversial art form. Eisner/Miller is profusely illustrated
and features rare, behind-the-scenes photos of Eisner,
Miller, and other notable creators.

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23/03/2018 45 Essential Books for Comic Creators - Jason Thibault

Secret Teachings of a Comic Book Master:


The Art of Alfredo Alcala | Heidi
MacDonald & Phillip Dana Yeh

“Alfredo Alcala is one of the most disciplined and


perceptive artists inking in comics. The years of
distinguished work have earned Alfredo a special place
in comics history.” — Gil Kane.

This unique work is loaded with amazing art and


pointers on observational methods, composition, and
other techniques. In addition to interviews with Alcala,
the book features pages from his groundbreaking
masterwork, Voltar, which was hailed as a new concept
in comic book form, an epic in narrative art, and a
milestone in sequential art illustration.

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The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks


and Win Your Inner Creative Battles |
Steven Pressfield

Novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy that every


one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer
this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve
success. The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed
to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition
and then effectively shows how to reach higher levels of
creative discipline.

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Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and


Create Your Life’s Work | Steven
Pressfield

The follow-up The War of Art, Turning Pro navigates the


passage from the amateur life to a professional practice.

“You don’t need to take a course or buy a product. All


you have to do is change your mind.” –Steven Pressfield

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Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and


Get Out of Your Own Way | Steven
Pressfield

Could you be getting in your way of producing great


work? Have you started a project but never finished?
Would you like to do work that matters, but don’t know
where to start?The answer is Do the Work, a manifesto
by author Steven Pressfield.

Do the Work is a weapon against Resistance – a tool that


will help you take action and successfully ship projects
out the door. Picking up where The War of Art and
Turning Pro left off, Do The Work takes the reader from
the start to the finish of any long-form project—novel,
screenplay, album.

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Growing Gills: How to Find Creative Focus


When You’re Drowning in Your Daily Life |
Jessica Abel

Go from overwhelmed, anxious, and stuck, to consistent,


clear, and in control of your creative life.
If you feel like you’re floundering in the deep end (Not
waving, drowning!), and anxiety over the complexity and
enormousness of your creative projects overwhelms you,
stop scrambling to fit everything in and feeling stretched
thin. DIVE DEEP AND SWIM

Sustain the energy you feel when thinking of how


awesome your projects could be.
Value your own creative work as highly as work you
do for other people.
Build a reusable structure and process that will
consistently get you to the finish line.
Blast through your stuck-ness.
Focus. Finish. Move on to the next project.

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| Julia Cameron

First published twenty-five years ago, The Artist’s Way is


“the book” on the subject of creativity. Author Julia
Cameron takes readers on a twelve-week journey to
discover the inextricable link between their spiritual and
creative selves.
A revolutionary program for artistic renewal from the
world’s foremost authority on the creative process, The
Artist’s Way is a life-changing book.

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FILED UNDER: FEATURED

About Jason Thibault


Jason Thibault  is a writer, artist, &
owner of boutique content
marketing agency Massive Kontent. Follow
him on Twitter (@jasonthibault) and Instagram
(@jay_thibs). 

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