If you’re interested in the art of making comics—whether that means you plan to create comic strips, longer comics, graphic novels, or massive space operas spanning 20 volumes—Drawing Words & Writing Pictures is for you. We have structured this book following the model of a 15-week college semester in a studio classroom setting (typically a three- to six-hour session once a week). We have invested it with all the rigor and seriousness that we bring to our own classroom. Conceptually, it’s aimed at a college-level learner, but a sophisticated teenager or any adult could use the course equally well.
However, we know that it’s possible that you won’t be studying comics in a classroom with the benefit of an experienced teacher, so we’ve built in features and methods by which individual, independent learners (who we call Ronin, after the masterless samurai who roamed feudal Japan) can easily use the book as well. But because we do believe that there is a great inherent value to learning in a group situation, we have also built in resources for those of you who want to create your own independent groups, either in person or online, and share your insights and experiences with others (who we call the Nomads).
They will learn the essential skills and tools they need to make comics. We cover all the cardinal points of comics in some depth: drawing and use of technical tools, page and panel design, storytelling, and unique features of comics such as juxtaposition of images and even flying sweat beads. Learners really will finish this book prepared to make comics on their own.
Absolutely not. Drawing skills always help make comics easier to produce, and smooth the way, but we address this issue right in our first chapter. Lots of cartoonists start out with minimal—or no—drawing skills, and they do just fine. Comics is a language and a form of storytelling; drawing is just one aspect of the medium.
DWWP is not a drawing course per se. Our emphasis is on teaching the narrative language of comics, which, as we point out in Chapter 1, is not entirely dependent on drawing skills. That said, you will find plenty of material in the book that will help you develop or hone your drawing skills, from figure drawing mini-tutorials to notes on using sketchbooks and photo reference.
Unlike existing instructional books devoted to comics, this is a true textbook that has a cumulative and carefully systematized methodology. Each of the fifteen chapters focuses on a particular aspect of comics and comes complete with homework, extra credit activities, and supplementary reading suggestions. Illustrated extensively by the authors and with numerous examples of international masters of the medium, DWWP provides a comprehensive introduction to the form that will give students the tools to create their own works in this art on the rise.
The ideas and methods taught in DWWP apply equally to all kinds of long-form graphic narrative: whether one page or a thousand, whether superheroes, manga, memoir, or any other narrative approach. The authors do not discriminate based on style or story content. These tools will serve all.
Did we answer your question? If not, please get in touch.
If you’re here looking for examples of student art, critique notes, or other companion material to DWWP, you want the Book Guide.