Not Just for Beginners

By Jessica Abel & Matt Madden
First Second Books 34.95 318 pages

Mastering Comics – Drawing Words & Writing Pictures Continued is presented as a semi-unofficial textbook about becoming a great comic artist. A continuation from their first book, Drawing Words and Writing Pictures, Mastering Comics is the perfect follow-up for those hoping to advance with their comics. Becoming a great comic writer requires many skills including writing and story, plot development, and artistry. Once those pieces are in place, everything must come together to create the perfect balance of visual and written story. Mastering Comics takes the reader step-by-step through each element of creating a comic. Further, each element is demonstrated with examples, and the reader is encouraged to complete the incorporated exercises. Each section also contains helpful tips, food for thought, and additional sources and reading that are relevant to the topic.

“First step: Pull out a blank sheet of paper.
Second step: Panic.
Third step: Put the paper away.”

Creating fabulous comics go well beyond simple artistry or a great idea. Mastering Comics also provides a thorough grounding in basic artistic skills that help the reader understand first; how to see the world and, second; how to re-create that on paper. Perspective, lighting, horizon, and dimension make up artistic fundamentals that can sink a comic if not executed correctly.

Mastering Comics is an approachable book, even for the beginning artist. While the book and this reviewer encourage you to begin with Drawing Words and Writing Pictures for true beginners, this second book can be utilized as a stand-alone guide for the artist. The points are well-written and clear, the examples are relevant and sound, and the exercises bring forth an opportunity for the reader to truly experience the points discussed for deeper understanding.

Reviewed By Rachel J. Richards

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