Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels
by Scott McCloud

Making Comics:
Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels
by Scott McCloud.

The foremost question is always:

Remember that:

NEW In contrast with Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, here Scott McCloud has a section of text after each chapter, expanding usefully on the ideas.

NEW Even better, he also has optional exercises: you provide the drawing paper and you have turned this text into a workbook.

CONTENTS (after Introduction):

  1. Writing with pictures.
    Choice of:
    1. Moment. Expands on choice of moments that matter and the resulting six types of transition between panels first presented in Blood in the gutter in Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art.
    2. Frame (distance, angle, where to trim). Show what the reader needs to see for place and focus.
    3. Image. Quick and clear evocation of characters, objects, environment, symbols.
    4. Words. Clear and persuasive communication in seamless combination with images.
    5. Flow. Transparent and intuitive reading experience.

    The center of the frame shows what is important: a person, the motion of an object, the absence of someone, a distance to be crossed or already crossed, or someone directing attention to something not yet seen.

    The contrast and balance of clarity versus intensity.

    The many exercises at the end include the great loosening-up exercises of "Quanto comics" and "24-hour comics".

  2. Stories for humans.

    Character design (with an inner life, visual distinction, and expressive traits), facial expressions, and body language.

    For facial expressions (together with head position, gaze direction, etc.) consider the six basic emotions and their McCloud's suggestion of what is indicated by their combinations:

    Even more emotions are created by mixtures of intensities as well as which emotions, such as:

    For body language, express emotions and relationships through elevation, distance, and imbalance.

    Exercises include expressions, body language, targeting expressions, targeting poses, and body language in sequence.

  3. The power of words.

    Seamless integration and the 'Desperation Device'. Seven ways words and pictures can combine in seamless balance:

    1. word-specific: pictures illustrate the words. "Am I taking advantage of the freedom words give to my art?"
    2. picture-specific: words accentuate aspects of the scene. "Am I taking advantage of the freedom my art give to my words?"
    3. duo-specific: words and pictures send the same message. Good to minimize this type, to reduce redundancy. "Are there good reasons to tell my reader anything twice?"
    4. intersecting: words and pictures contribute information independently (in addition to supporting each other). "Are both pictures and words contributing something of value to each panel?"
    5. interdependent: words and pictures combine to convey an idea that neither conveys alone. This can be a very informative and rich type of combination. "Could the two [words and art] together be more than the sum of their parts?"
    6. parallel: words and pictures seem to be independent. A popular experimental form. "Could they [words and art] carry a vastly different message [from each other]?"
    7. montage: words and pictures combine pictorially. "Do words and pictures need to be treated all that differently?"

    The many exercises at the end include a word-specific and a picture-specific exercise, as well as a montage exercise and an exercise on balloon dissection. These are very practical and helpful.

  4. World building.
    Sense of place, perspective, and research.

    The many exercises at the end include drawing the real world and drawing a nine-panel (no characters and no words) page showing fragments of the place to express a theme.

  5. Tools, techniques, and technology.
    Making it real.

    Describes both manual and computer tools.

    The many exercises at the end include

  6. Your place in comics.
    Three essays about style:

    1. Understanding manga. Lists 8 manga characteristics that were not, in 1982 when Scott became aware of them, being used in American comics:
      1. Iconic characters.
      2. Strong sense of place.
      3. Frequent use of wordless panels combined with aspect-to-aspect transitions.
      4. Subjective motion to make the reader feel as if they moved with a character.
      5. Genre maturity.
      6. Broad variety of character designs.
      7. Small real-world details.
      8. Emotionally expressive effects.
    2. Understanding genres.
    3. Understanding comics cultures.

  7. Making comics.
    The comics professional.

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