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A generation ago, becoming a comic book creator was usually a solitary and self-guided process. Sure, there was How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, The Kubert School (still going strong), and a few other tools, but for the most part you were on your own. Today there is a blossoming variety of resources that are building a smarter and more skilled community of tomorrow’s comics makers.
One of the most recent additions is Comics Workbook, a new web magazine set up by cartoonist Frank Santoro (Storeyville, Kramer’s Ergot). As he explained on his own Tumblr, Santoro intentionally set out to put together a team of contributors that consisted of more girls than boys to “flip the script on this comics magazine thing”. Instead of looking to other comics sites, he turned to girls roller derby and the supportive community those teams create, and is trying to “copy their model.” The results are a rough yet immediate DIY vibe that displays comics and minicomics in-progress (such as “The Great” by Alyssa Berg, pictured here), brief yet hilariously brash reviews in comics form, a series of reflections on Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, links to interviews and reviews, and more.
Santoro is in the middle of teaching an eight-week correspondence course for comic book makers, and has written a series of columns examining layouts and color for The Comics Journal. So the guy definitely knows his stuff and has some interesting theories (even if they are beyond me as a non-artist).
Mastering Comics, the second comic-creating textbook by Artbabe and La Perdida creator Jessica Abel and 99 Ways to Tell a Story‘s Matt Madden, finally hit shelves last month, offering a remarkably thorough (and remarkably enjoyable, as well) lesson in what it takes to not only make a comic, but get it in front of readers, as well. It’s no surprise that it’s so wonderful; their previous collaborative effort, Drawing Words & Writing Pictures, was similarly informative and entertaining to comic creators and the more generally curious alike, and the two have taught at New York’s School of Visual Arts for the past few years. I had a brief chat with the two about the release of the book, and what it takes to “Master” comics.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d grab the latest Lio collection, Zombies Need Love Too. Cartoonist Mark Tatulli has one of the better newspaper comic strips going these days.
If I had $30, I’d nab what is clearly the book of the week, NonNonBa, the latest book from Shigeru Mizuki, author of Onward Toward Our Noble Deaths. NonNonBa aims more toward Mizuki’s traditional milieu of Japanese folklore and yokai monsters, though this book is more autobiographical in nature in that it deals with his relationship with his grandmother and how she instilled in him an interest in the spirit world. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this release.
My splurge for the week would likely be one of two books from First Second: Either Baby’s in Black, Arne Bellstorf’s fictionalized tale of the sadly doomed Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe, or Mastering Comics, Jessica Abel and Matt Madden’s follow-up to their previous how-to textbook, Drawing Words, Writing Pictures.