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The "Everything" Guide to Writing Graphic Novels: From Superheroes to Manga - All You Need to Create and Sell Your Graphic Works (Everything S.) Paperback – 28 Mar 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Adams Media Corporation (28 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598694510
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598694512
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 1.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 443,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Mark Ellis is a novelist and freelance writer whose work has appeared in dozens of publications over the years. His graphic novel and comic book credentials include Justice Machine, Death Hawk, Doc Savage, The Wild, Wild West, and H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu. Melissa Martin-Ellis is a graphic artist, photographer and writer. She served a three year stint as the art director of Millennium Publications.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S.B on 7 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
Doesn't go in depth into the actual writing part at all, half the book just tells you how to sell you comics. heaps of the pages here just seem to be fillers (in my opinion).
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By Ben Dixon on 17 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Was said to be in great condition, but was in terrible condition, ex library copy. It had had a picture from one page completely cut out so someone had photocopied from another book both sides of the damaged page and glued them on top of the damaged page. It still reads of course, but it was clearly a knackered copy. The fact that it was ex library, knackered, and badly repaired was not disclosed in any way.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Invaluable information! 11 April 2008
By Chris Van Deelen - Published on
Format: Paperback
There are plenty of professional writers out there who could learn a thing or two by picking up Mark Ellis & Melissa Martin Ellis' Everything Guide to writing Graphic novels.

The book is full of tips and simple common sense that I have discovered is lacking in quite a few of today's writers.

There were even tips and similar tidbits of information mentioned that I never thought of before, things that would greatly help my aspiring career as a writer.

I really should state right now that I have no intention of writing a graphic novel. It's not really my thing, especially since I don't know any artists, nor do I have any visual artistic skills.

Sure, I can write, but that's only a small part of the job required to create a graphic novel.

Anyhow, unlike most of the reviews I write for books, movies, DVD's, and games, this is a practical guide, so I don't have to worry about providing any spoilers and ruining the experience of those who read this review.

Before I get into the meat of the review, I'll also state right now that Mark covers the evolution of comics through the introduction of new technology as well. All through the book you will read about how computers have changed the creation of a comic, and of course the Graphic novel in every single aspect of the work's creation.

That alone makes for some fascinating reading.

First, the guide is 211 pages in length, and is choked full of beautiful illustrations from the various artists who collaborated with Mark Ellis over his long career. Jim Mooney, Robert Lewis, Darryl Banks, Don Heck, Eddy Newell and Adam Hughes, just to name a few of the artists whose work can be found between the pages of this guide.

These pages are divided up into twenty chapters, two appendixes, an art index and a regular index, the introduction and a list of the top ten books that every graphic novelist should read.

Not just graphic novelists, but all aspiring authors, as I stated above.

Each chapter covers a basic topic, and is divided up into subjects based on that topic. Spread throughout the chapters, as I stated before, are a plethora of artwork, as well as E-facts (Important snippets of information), E-questions (Answers to common questions), E-alert (Urgent warnings), and E-ssential (Quick handy tips).

Now, even though it will take up a lot of time, I will briefly cover each chapter that's in the book.

Chapter one covers the origin of graphic novels, how they evolved from the `funny books' to comics and the evolution of the media.

Chapter two asks the basic question - do you have what it takes to create a graphic novel? This includes information on researching your work, finances, attitude and the drive to see your project through to its end, time management and contacts.

Chapter three covers developing the concept, such as the plot that is essential to any work of fiction, your characters, the genre and timeline and tips on researching for your masterpiece.

Chapter four touches on the various genres of not only comics, but books and other media. Superheroes, crime, horror, adventure, science fiction & fantasy and even biographical work.

Chapter five is about the writing process itself. This covers visual storytelling and the story arc itself, scripts versus breakdowns, dialogue, and of course concept to the actual layout.

Chapter six is very important... if you aren't planning on doing your graphic novel solo! It covers team building. The duties of the writer, artist, letterer (yes, as strange as it sounds to me there are professional letterers!), and the colorist.

Chatper seven - The story becomes art. This covers the basic layout and design, character design, panel design, splash pages and double page spreads, the need, the use, as well as the incorrect use of each of these.

Chapter eight, writers requirements. Like art, you can't have a comic or graphic novel without a story. Even though through the years I've seen that quite often a writer takes a backseat to the artist of a comic, they play as an important, if not a more important role in the creation. When it comes down to it, a great writer's work will be destroyed by a crappy artist, while a very talented artist will be weighed down by a less than professional writer.

Anyhow, this chapter covers the use of word processors and computers, research and verisimilitude, dialogue balloons versus captions and finally visual thinking and pacing.

Chapter nine is for the artist, or as they're known, the Penciler. It touches on the subject of workspace and the tools of the trade, developing a graphic storytelling style, anatomy and perspective and of course, expression for the characters.

Chapter ten was the chapter that really opened my eyes to an aspect of comics that I never put any thought into before. The Letterer. It goes into a brief history of typography first of all, and then it covers hand lettering, tools for letterers (which I didn't know they needed!), computer lettering and last but not least - sound effects, captions and dialog balloons.

I should point out it also covers the correct number of words that should appear in a dialog balloon. Something that is extremely important in a comic!

Chapter eleven. Inker's requirements. For the longest time I always assumed that the artist did all the work... the drawing and the colouring. I had no idea until only a few years ago that the artists work was first inked, either by the artist herself, or by a professional inker. Again, a learning experience for me.

It covers interpreting the pencils as well as respecting the line, and of course the artist herself.

Chapter twelve covers the colorist's requirements, such as the computer colouring process, old school hand coloring and working with painters.

Chapter thirteen - the production flowchart. Without a flowchart, or a blueprint if you wish, it makes the creation of your graphic novel next to impossible. This chapter covers the script to pencils, then to inks. It also discusses the use of lettering and sound effects and finally scanning to colouring.

Chapter fourteen is a very important chapter. After all, if you don't reach out and grab the attention of a potential reader, it'll be hard to sell your work. It deals with cover design. The chapter deals with the company logo and the title of the work, the cover art and wrap around covers and their uses.

Chapter fifteen covers the actual printing of your completed work. It gives you information on how to understand the printing process, getting estimates from printers, proofs and colour separation and one of the latest additions to the publishing world - print on demand.

Potential creators should pay particular attention to the last one, the print on demand portion of the chapter, as it will save you a lot of time and grief.

Chapter sixteen deals with storage and shipping and gives the reader insightful (and clearly hard won knowledge from experience) on the printer's storage and shipping, tips for storing your art and books and strategies for shipping your product.

Chapter seventeen is, in my personal view, probably the most important part of the book. Advertising. If you don't have any sort of advertising, you will find it exceedingly difficult to find buyers for your product. As the old adage says, sex sells... but so does humour and even the strange. Your best bet is for a combination of two of these factors. Anyhow, this chapter deals with ad and flyers, the various comic publications, the net, and the big distributors, such as Diamond. One thing I should point out, this chapter also covers the costs of advertising with the larger distributors, invaluable information for up and coming creators!

Chapter eighteen is almost as important in this viewers eyes as it deals with marketing and promotion of your work. You will learn about ashcan editions, the advantages of attending conventions and book signings, the importance of reviews (considering how many I write, yeah...) and of course interviews, and last but far from least, your internet site.

Chapter nineteen covers the aforementioned distributors, with Diamond being the largest of these companies. It also talks about, actual bookstores, Cold Cut distribution and alternative distributors, and mail order combined with your internet site and downloads. It also gives a breakdown of the costs and percentages involved with these various methods.

Chapter twenty - the one thing we all hate but have to deal with - legalities. It deals with copyrights and trademarks. Pay close attention here, it could save you a great deal of grief in the future! This chapter also teaches you about ancillary rights, royalties and the importance of keeping accurate records.

In closing, the book does contain eight full colour panels of work from Mark's various contributions to the comic book world, and it is also filled with internet links to sites that any would be graphic novel creator will find invaluable.

Even though I never plan on writing a graphic novel myself, mainly due to the fact that I have no contacts in the artistic community, there was a great deal of information that I, as an aspiring author, found to be completely invaluable.

Worth picking up and reading for anyone out there who wants to take a stab at the comic book industry.

5 out of 5.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Pretty much lives up to its name 22 Feb. 2012
By Curtis Tom - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been collaborating with friends on drawing a few comic book series and am stretching myself to help a friend work out something based on an RPG he ran, but still have a day job so I haven't had anything published. As other reviewers pointed out, this book does hit all the topics of creating a graphic novel very quickly. This book definitely lives up to the "Everything" part of the name, but probably less so on the writing aspect.

This book is extremely good at giving you an overall understanding of the entire publishing process, not just writing or illustrating. It goes into cover design and how to advertise your book, and what I found the most interesting was how to actually get the work printed yourself rather than trying to submit it to an established comic book company. They touch on how to get bids from printing companies, and the merits of stocking the printed copies yourself versus having a company print books based on demand.

Beginners will definitely need to get other books that go into more detail about structuring a page visually or breaking down a story into a script. I've amassed quite a few books on both topics and haven't found a definitive one that covers both sides well. But this is definitely a book to read if you're really serious about getting your work published yourself.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Jack of All Trades 26 Feb. 2010
By PT Dilloway - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Graphic novels are big business and getting bigger every day, especially as many of them like "300," "Watchmen," "Sin City," and "Road to Perdition" (to name a few) make the leap to the silver screen. Maybe you think to yourself, how can I get a piece of that action? "Everything Guide..." walks you through the process from start to finish.

That process starts with a brief history of the comic book/graphic novel landscape. There's also a section on preplanning your story and writing for current markets. Then it goes on to describe the jobs of each member of the team needed to put the graphic novel together: writer, penciler, inker, and letterer. (The latter is far more important than you might think.) It goes further to describe the actual publication process as well as marketing and legal stuff associated with selling your project.

Overall, it's a good overview of the process. The problem for someone like me who has no experience in this area but is curious to see what it takes is that there's not enough detail. Each section provides just a basic synopsis but lacks the in-depth material so that a novice could really get started. So basically while this is good for an overview of the process, it's not greatly useful if you want to know HOW to write a graphic novel or HOW to draw one.

(On a personal note I also take issue with recommending the "thumbnail" way of writing graphic novels. That's just because I can't draw for anything, so my storyboards would end up as so many stick figures.)

Still, if you're looking for a guide to the entire process this is a good read. It makes for good background to help you understand what it takes not just in writing or drawing a graphic novel, but to create and sell one as well. There are also a lot of little historical tidbits provided throughout the text that are interesting as well.

That is all.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Very informative...but the Kindle edition is riddled with typos. 29 April 2013
By Patrick Von Raven - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
This review is for the Kindle edition ony. There is a lot of helpful information inside, especially for beginners like me.

However, there are many typos, particularly the letter P is in place of the letter D.
Useful text 27 Jun. 2014
By R. S. Cox - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book was well organised, with clear and relevant chapters covering the various aspects of writing for Graphic Novels. It is also helpful for suggesting that a process is required, and that good writing for anything benefits from consideration of the various components and authoring skills.
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