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on 15 December 2009



Now let me explain why:

I remember picking up this book ages ago, taking one look at the cartoony interior and putting it back on the shelf. I was very much unimpressed with the drawing style inside and it was far beneath my discerning tastes.

Of course...I was an idiot back then.

Now being a little bit older and a lot wiser, I've finally cottoned on to what exactly this book is about.

It's not there to teach you how to draw, there are a gazillion other ways to learn how to do THAT, this is here to teach you how to 'draw words and write pictures' and it delivers on that promise and then some.

You can take this book in two ways. You can either; a) dip in here and there and extract the bits of information that you need (though i would recommend reading it all once through at least once) or b) take it as it was intended and work through it as you would any other course. Each chapter is similarly laid out to a tutor's lecture and it followed up with a set of 'homework' assignments.

Sounds boring and a lot of hard work but -hey- if you're doing comics, hard work is the way to go. The effort is worth it. Nearly everything in this book is just the sense your mother raised you with but you will find yourself reading it and saying "oh, RIIIIIGHT...". It makes sense of things that can otherwise be undefinable and helps you learn things that you might otherwise have dismissed as being purely instinctive and impossible to learn.

I could go on like this for quite some time, but i do beleive there is a word limit, so i shall finish with this:

If you're serious about getting into comics and learning the art for what it is -seemlessly combining good writing with good art- then you need this book.

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on 4 May 2017
So easy to follow and understand. This is the best kind of learning in my opinion. I'll definitely be checking out Scott's other titles!
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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.
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on 18 December 2014
An excellent book about comics, and writing / drawing comics, written as a comic-book. It's stuff all comic lovers and drawers have known, made plain. The source references alone will keep you busy for ages, checking out ways people have drawn stories.

It's not prescriptive though -- it's a collection of ideas and examples. Scott McCloud puts his money where his mouth is, very successfully.

If you draw comics, even just for fun, get this. If you know someone who draws a lot of comic-like stuff, get this for them as a present -- they will thank you.
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on 13 May 2008
Back in the 90s Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics became a seminal text in the field of comics theory, and he has repeated his achievement for comics practice in the noughties with this excellent book.

It is in a different league from all the other 'how to make comics' texts out there, which are usually really just 'how to draw in a manga/superhero/my style'.

Instead he merges theory with practice in a very accessible and engaging way, covering panels, text/image, facial expression, body language, environment, process, technique, genre and style, with a very useful bibliography.

If this book had existed when I was at art college I would have saved myself literally months of time figuring all of this out for myself, but even now I found it incredibly informative and useful.

An absolute must for all aspiring comics artists.
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I've always found it fascinating to imagine how a comic book author/illustrator creates the stories and images that appeal so much. Having been a non-fiction book author for many years, I have a firm understanding of the writing process. I sometimes pick out a few illustrations to put into a book.

But building a story around the illustrations, that seems like a trip to the planet Neptune to me. I was very pleased to find that Scott McCloud is very good at explaining (and illustrating) the creative and production processes he uses. I was delighted when I realized that he had also described how an individual could make a few comics to share with friends.

With computer art getting to be easier to do, I can see that there's even hope for those of us who couldn't draw out way out of a paper bag.

Mr. McCloud has the kind of mind that sees everything in perspective, in this case as facets of an overall story-telling task. He always has the goal of engaging the reader in mind and relates his points well to that purpose.

The work is impressive at another level . . . it's a masterpiece of providing instruction. The book shows more than tells, as a book about comics should do.

If Mr. McCloud ever tires of making comic books and graphic novels, he should go into explaining non-fiction subjects. He would make a fortune!
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on 1 March 2009
I devoured this book. This isn't about drawing, it's about mastering:

* Story-telling - what triggers empathy, what persuades, how to hold attention
* Explicit / implicit - the balance between what is said & shown, and what the reader must bring to fully render the scene
* Words and images - and their delicate relationship
* Character creation / world creation
* Mastering expressions, gestures, body language
* Clarity vs intensity

... and then there's all the technical stuff about which tools and mediums to consider. AND he throws in a healthy dosage of philosophy, culture, the history of visual commuication.

This books covers a massive terrain, but does so with delightful clarity. The medium truly is the message here; with every point made Scott makes the best choice of framing, gestures, balance of words/images, symbols, pacing...

By the way, I never even liked comics.
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on 3 January 2012
McCloud's "Making Comics" is more useful in suggesting improvements of comics writing, storyboards or whatever your trade happens to be. "Understanding comics" are better for improving secondary understanding (e.g. why storyboards are not motion).

What I really like with this book is that it addresses a shortcoming of "Understanding comics" - wording. One reason that e.g. McCloud and other good comics artists get across is that they can provide good text that fit in word balloons, panel texts and various text boxes. Especially McCloud's extensive use of bold typefaces at the right places is powerful, and he provides us with some concepts for grasping that.

Both books are excellent buys, I tell you this if you need to choose between them.
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on 13 May 2010
Being rather new to the comics world (I only started reading them more steadily last year), I was eager to know more about the medium, and various online searches kept pointing to "Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art" (also by Scott McCloud) as a great starting point. Unfortunately, at the time I set out to buy it it was unavailable, so I settled for this one instead.

I have to say I loved it! It really opened my eyes to a lot of details I was missing, or rather, things that I was aware of on an unconscious level, but which make a huge difference when you're aware of them. Even if you don't actually want to "make" comics, this is still a great book to further your understanding of them. My appreciation for the medium and the amount of work that goes to each page certainly improved.

If I had to find something wrong with this book, it would be that it only scratches the surface on most points - but then again, the book describes itself as a starting point, and throughout the book you get many pointers from the author to further your knowledge of what's being discussed. Also, one has to keep in mind that this is only one of the three books Scott McCloud wrote on the subject, so what's missing from this one is probably explained in the others (which I will definitely be checking out).

I also love that this was written and presented in comic book form. It makes it a very fun read, while still being informative. Overall, it was everything I expected it to be.
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on 20 October 2008
It seems insane to write a review having read only 15 pages, but I am so blown away by this book I have decided to do just that. It is partially inspired by the fact that the reviews so far have referred quite reasonably only to people interested in comics. I am writing this because the book should have a much broader audience.

Personally I am interested in communication and presentation skills (sad, I know), and that is the reason I got this book; hoping to learn a few things about visualisation of message. Within 15 pages I have learnt more new information than any other book I remember. The ideas are simple enough to be powerful while intelligent enough to be enlightening. The visual medium of the comic itself helps the ideas fly off the page and into your brain.

So if you are interested in understanding more about how to communicate effectively, and are not as sad as me so don't fancy reading a heavy tome on presentation skills, get this book.

Heck just get it because it is so much fun.

235 page to go... :o)
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