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Book recommendations (craft, technique)

edited October 2014 in The Toolbox
I just bought Framed Ink by Marcos Mateu-Mestre and dumped six pages of art I spent last week drawing and started over. Already my results are better. The sub-title is Drawing and Composition for Visual Storytellers, and that sums it up nicely. Generously illustrated with Mateu-Mestre's masterfully relaxed pen and brush drawings, the five chapters start with some general notes, moves onto single panel composition, composing shots for a purpose, composing for continuity, and finally addresses the graphic novel. While most of the book focuses on visual design for animation, the lessons apply very well to comics. He doesn't speak much about how comics work between panels, that is, what happens in the gutters; Scott McCloud is much better on that. Instead he shows how composition for storytelling purposes, especially with respect to light and shadow, works within a drawing. I know of no other book quite like this, and his drawing will leave you unsatisfied with your own work.

Comments

  • Nicked from the web:


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  • edited October 2014
    I've been reading the Bendis book lately. I love this kind of stuff, and it's always nice to see the process that people use. There's lots of talk from artists about "do's and don'ts" in scripts. Matt Fraction has a nice guest article in it. 

    I've also been looking at Hy Bender's Sandman Companion. Lots of insights and reverse-engineering of stories. 

    imageimage
  • edited October 2014
    Oooh, just bought the Bendis book. Thanks for the recommendation.

    I have On Writing by Stephen King and J. Michael Straczynski's The Complete Book of Scriptwriting. I like the former much more than the latter. Making Comics is my favorite of the Scott McCloud books. 

    My favorite creative-in-general book is The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher. It's fantastic. Opens up your brain.
  • I like the Steven King book a lot. I tried the JMS one several years ago, but it didn't resonate with me at the time. 

  • On my shelf:

    The two Eisner books
    The three McCloud books
    Three Uses of the Knife, by Mamet
    Adventures in the Screen Trade, by Goldman
    Writers on Comics Scriptwriting Vol 1 and Vol 2.
    The DC Guide to Writing Comics
    On Writing, by King
    Come In Alone, by Warren Ellis

    Of these, the Ellis book has probably been the most useful, surprisingly. 

  • Ha! Almost the exact same stuff on my shelf. I don't have Three Uses of the Knife...rather I've got his "On Directing Film" book. 
    And I found the Ellis book to be tons of fun too.  
  • So what have you learned from some of these books? What is useful about the Ellis book. What does and don't's made a change for you in the Bendis book?
  • One of the most consistent themes was that artists don't like to see multiple actions in the description for a single panel. This is something I think we've all heard before, but I find it interesting that professional artists are talking about it, because that implies that pro writers are still doing it. 

    Another thing that caught my eye was a comment from Adam Hughes. He said that he doesn't like seeing grammatical errors in a script because it means that he's probably receiving a first draft that wasn't carefully thought out. That thought never occurred to me, and I must say that I've been guilty of not proof-reading or spell checking a script because I thought of it as mostly a "working document". Now I've kind of changed my view on that. 

  • edited October 2014
    One of the most consistent themes was that artists don't like to see multiple actions in the description for a single panel. This is something I think we've all heard before, but I find it interesting that professional artists are talking about it, because that implies that pro writers are still doing it. 
    Depends. There's a line between something that can't be depicted in a panel but is written as if it should be and something that is just narrative for the artist.

    For instance: He opened the door, walked into the room and turned to face the women behind him. Technically, you can't draw this as is. But you can certainly draw the end result, and so the description is just connective tissue. And in my experience, writing something with that connective tissue gets you better results than trying to write every panel as if it's simply a description of a photograph.

    And every now and again, artists are just wrong. I had a guy recently say that panel had to be two panels to depict something, and he was flatout wrong.
  • Maybe it also depends on your working relationship with the artist. 
  • It also depends on what the artist is comfortable with, how technically skilled they are, how lazy, how theie imagination works. Artists and writers can be a good fit, or not.
  • Another thing that caught my eye was a comment from Adam Hughes. He said that he doesn't like seeing grammatical errors in a script because it means that he's probably receiving a first draft that wasn't carefully thought out. That thought never occurred to me, and I must say that I've been guilty of not proof-reading or spell checking a script because I thought of it as mostly a "working document". Now I've kind of changed my view on that. 

    I don't often have this problem because I'm obsessive-compulsive about proofing everything I write, even Facebook comments.

  • The artist writer thing is an interesting one. Right now, for instance, I'm losing an artist on one project largely because of a clash between our working styles.

    But that's not necessarily what it sounds like. The artist and I are good friends, and we intend to work together on a creator owned thing in the nearish future. The problem is that we came onto the book late, as is usual for me on WFH, and the clash is that my writing style leads to the artist over thinking the book and while this hasn't made us late it has lead to a lot of stress.

    It's also lead to some great work from him and me, and we really like working together. What is true that we're ill suited to a monthly book under the circumstances we found each other under. But on something where we can do the schedule? No problem.


  • I haven't read Thierry Groensteen's System of Comics, but my friends who have rave it up. Very big in academic circles.

  • edited October 2014

    For instance: He opened the door, walked into the room and turned to face the women behind him. Technically, you can't draw this as is. But you can certainly draw the end result, and so the description is just connective tissue. And in my experience, writing something with that connective tissue gets you better results than trying to write every panel as if it's simply a description of a photograph.
    And every now and again, artists are just wrong. I had a guy recently say that panel had to be two panels to depict something, and he was flatout wrong.
    I've had more than one spirited discussion about this. I try to treat my scripts as narratives, as a thing that's interesting or entertaining to read all on its own, even though the audience will never be larger than half a dozen people, most likely. It's my feeling that a script that's fun to write will be fun to read and also fun to draw.

    I don't have anything to back this up empirically, but the comics I've made have been written this way, and they've turned out okay. I'm also seeing a proliferation of writers selling scripts at cons. Gail Simone does it, Joe Harris does it, and Peter David has done it for years. I assume that these aren't selling exclusively to aspiring writers, but again, there's no data to back that up.

    Also: my professional background is in technical writing, which can be a miserable slog at times, so my comics writing needs to stay separate from that, if only for my own sanity.

    This probably deserves its own thread. I'd like to know how the writers here write, and what the artists here want to see.
     
  • So what have you learned from some of these books? What is useful about the Ellis book. What does and don't's made a change for you in the Bendis book?
    COME IN ALONE is a collection of Ellis's columns that originally ran at CBR, basically unedited, so the end result is a book with a very different tone than what you'll typically see in a book that's intended at as teaching tool.

    Not every column is about making comics, but they're all about the industry as Ellis saw it in the moment when the columns were written, and they're written with a candor that you can usually get away with in a column.

    The difficulties inherent in pitching, from crafting the document to actually getting an editor's attention long enough to read it, I learned from CiA.
  • Dave Sim's Guide For Self Publishing, I have the original edition, but I think he released a revised one.
    One of the best books about doing comic books i've read, and it is pure text and pure bliss (at least for me, because i'm a fan, haha)

    Come in Alone changed my views on comics, I used to print out the column every week, I have it binded here in the studio.
  • Yeah, I have Sim's book too. 

    I used to read CIA every week, back in the day. Warren was preaching everything I wanted to see happen in the industry, and damn if most of it didn't happen. 
  • I've noticed that there are more books that I need to read than I own. I do have some of the basics: 

    Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative - Will Eisner
    Comics & Sequential Art - Will Eisner
    Understanding Comics - Scott McCloud
    Superheroes: Joe Kubert's Wonderful World of Comics
    Writing for Comics with Peter David
    How to Publish Your Own Comic Book - Tony Caputo
    Dave Sim's Guide to Self Publishing
    Make Your Own Comics: The Small Press Primer - Mike Hall
    The Insider's Guide to Creating COmics and Graphic Novels - Andy Schmidt
    Whatcha Mean What's a Zine? - Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson
  • I'm currently digging the Webcomics Guide by Brad Guiger. He Kickstarter funded the book, which is a sequel to his Webcomics.com book he wrote with Scott Kurtz. 
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