6 Books for the Aspiring Comic Book Writer
Comic books are a medium quite unlike any other: A complex combination of words and imagery that work together to tell a dazzling and evocative story. And with an enticing description such as this, it really isn’t at all surprising that so many people desire to break into the industry as writers. But where does one even begin? Simple, start by checking out this list of must-have books on comics guaranteed to help your script meet the professional standard!
1) The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics by Dennis O’Neil
To call Dennis O’Neil an industry legend isn’t fan hyperbole, the man’s more than deserving of the title! O’Neil rose through the ranks of his writing career, going from freelancer to group editor of DC’s entire range of Batman titles. And his years of empirical knowledge and more can be found in The DC Comics Guide Writing Comics. Covering everything from industry terms to proper script formatting—in addition to anecdotes from his years in the editorial trenches—O’Neil’s guide is as close to attending one of his writing courses as you’re going to get!
2) Making Comics by Scott McCloud
Artist Scott McCloud is a name heard often around comic book shops and conventions, primarily due to his comprehensive how-to books that cater to both writers and artists alike. He’s written a handful over the years, but Making Comics is the bread and butter of the bunch. Nearly a graphic novel itself, McCloud utilizes clever imagery and layman’s terms to teach readers the importance of space, object and character placement, and pacing to storytelling. In other words, writers go on a vicarious trip as they see things through the eyes of the artist.
3) Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative by Will Eisner
If Dennis O’Neil is a legend, then Will Eisner is a veritable god of the entire comic book medium. Getting his start during the Golden Age of Comics, Eisner—along with many others—laid down the foundation for the burgeoning industry, approaching it with an insightful artistic philosophy. Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative is the second of Eisner’s three books and arguably the finest, discussing storytelling’s role in mankind’s history, the influence of comics, and the mechanics behind giving your story that desired emotional impact.
4) Writing for Animation, Comics and Games by Christy Marx
For the writer that wishes to try his or her hand in more than one entertainment medium, Writing for Animation, Comics and Games is the most versatile and comprehensive book on this list. Author Christy Marx has been writing for these aforementioned mediums and more for nearly 30 years, so it goes without saying that this is a hefty tome absolutely brimming with some of the most technical information out there. One caveat, though: This book isn't accommodating for those who’ve never engaged in any of these mediums, and are just now taking the plunge. However, if you have rudimentary knowledge of what you’re diving into, then Writing for Animation, Comics and Games will be an invaluable resource.
5) Alan Moore’s Writing for Comics by Alan Moore
It’s less than 50 pages and incredibly thin—no kidding, it’s easy to overlook on a crowded book shelf—but Alan Moore’s Writing for Comics is quite literally the mind of Moore in your quivering hands. This isn’t by any means a step-by-step how-to book, it’s actually an essay that appeared in a British fan magazine from 1985. Within, Moore not only goes through the building blocks of writing your story, but also advocates to look into yourself to create something unique —something that represents who you are as a writer—that doesn’t fit any conventional mold. Moore has always warned aspiring writers about the hazards of derivative, uninspired works, and after reading this you'll find it hard to fall victim to those temptations.
6) Supergods by Grant Morrison
Supergods is the farthest from being a how-to book. In fact it isn't, yet it carries a fascinating discourse on the super hero archetype and how they’ve gone on to influence our collective imagination. And who better than Grant Morrison—the writer that redefined characters such as Batman and Superman in this modern age—to pen a treatise on one of the comic book industry’s most popular genres. In it, Morrison approaches these spandex-clad sentinels of justice with the notion that they’re modern myth, his invaluable expertise something to consider when drafting your own super hero comic.
Which comic book writer is your favorite?