Most helpful positive review
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Another McCloud book to get excited about, and to get you inspired about your own comics!
on 6 November 2006
Scott McCloud scores again with another incredibly intelligent non-fiction comic! In Understanding Comics he wrote a groundbreaking literature analysis that unveiled the mysterious inner workings of comics - in can't-put-it-down attractive comic format! Making Comics is another important book for comics in general, its chapter topics are of immediate relevance, with lots of solid practicals.
There are stacks of "how to draw" books out there, but McCloud's applies his rare talent in the witty presentation of diligent research. Making Comics conveys years of reading, pattern-deducing and theorising, digging into fine art composition techniques, the psychology of involving the reader of comics, the life cycles of genres and loads more. I may risk giving the impression that this is an academic, highbrow or out-of-touch book. Again, it's very practical.
The reader can learn so much, yet it's impossible to liken it to a textbook because it's so fun! However, for those truly getting serious, at the end of each chapter is an invaluable new "Notes" section, which includes optional exercises to do. These are often group activities, benefiting circles of enthusiasts or art teachers and media courses.
McCloud uses the artwork in the format to demonstrate each point. Frequently he uses examples from other comics, but the artwork is predominantly his own which (despite his self-humbling comments) is skillful and clear. As the book explains how, words and pictures together act as more than the sum of their parts to get across deeper messages about emotions, sensations, craftsmanship and more. This book clearly charts the way towards barely explored territories among the endless possibilities of comics making. It also imparts the know-how for readers to confidently set out on their personal journey to get there! I think every reader is going to catch some inspiration from Making Comics, and be itching to start creating new comics by the end!
Manga fans should find this book invaluable, with a small ten-page section devoted specifically to comics from Japan. This contains eight specific manga features, and they're a far cry from big eyes and cute (this book is about substance, not surface remember!) The take on shojo (target audience is girls) and shonen (manga for boys) genres is a breath of fresh air, despite brevity. This sounds like very little, but the entire volume is as applicable to manga as to comics from any other culture. (Popular manga artwork in the examples crops up from introduction to ending.)
As my main complaint about this book, the strength of being practical leave me missing McCloud's intellectual flights in Understanding Comics somewhat. This reader was awed by Understanding Comics and the sense of enlightenment sparking from each page. This is a different kind of book. The earlier book is about history, purpose, the human mind, the future; this presents an approach to drawing faces, how attention to environments contributes to your work, pitfalls to avoid when placing text in a word balloon... However, it is an unbefitting grumble that its content is comparatively mundane. I reckon Making Comics is every bit as brilliant as Understanding Comics - instead of satisfying a hunger for knowledge, it will come into its own as a companion in MAKING COMICS.