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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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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 15 December 2009
This.

Is.

Great.

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.

BUY IT!
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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 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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on 7 August 2015
A well thought out and organized book about the creational process of comic production, rather than a book about "how to draw comics". Anyone who is into visual arts as a way of transferring information - or indeed just as a form of entertainment - would do well to read this book.

Be advised that this book is a graphic novel about comics and graphic novels. Well... could it have been written any other way?
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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 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 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 30 April 2016
Amazing, couldn't recommend enough. If you love comics and want to make them, you need to get this book. McCloud has s great insight into the industry and shares his knowledge with everyone in this book.
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on 26 April 2014
I'm looking into making my own online comic, this book is helpful to anyone who is interested in starting making any kind of comic. Whether it be traditional, digital, westernized, manga, etc. this book will cover it or at least give you fundamentals to build your comic on. It is displayed in an easy-to-read comic format, allowing you to understand the ideas immediately. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in making their own comics.
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