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How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way Paperback – September 14, 1984

4.6 out of 5 stars 282 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stan Lee is the creator of SpiderMan and the force behind Marvel Comics.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1



Since very few of us draw with just our fingernails, let's start off with what you'll need. Then we're got to make sure we're all speaking the same language. This part's the easiest.

Here we go! On these two pages you'll find just about everything you'll need to get you started. One of the nice things about being a comicbook artist is the fact that your equipment is no big deal. Let's just give the various items a fast once-over...

Pencil. Some artists prefer a soft lead, some like the finer hard lead. It's up to you.

Pen. A simple drawing pen with a thin point, for inking and bordering.

Brush. Also for inking. A sable hair #3 is your best bet.

Erasers. One art gum and one smooth kneaded eraser -- which is cleaner to use.

India ink. Any good brand of black india ink is okay.

White opaquing paint. Invaluable for covering errors in inking.

A glass Jar. This holds the water for cleaning your brushes.

Pushpins. Handy for keeping your illustration paper from slipping off the drawing board.

Triangle. A must for drawing right angles and working in perspective.

T square. Invaluable for drawing borders and keeping lines parallel.

Ruler. For everyone who says "1 can't draw a straight line without a ruler." Now you've no excuse!

Illustration paper. We use 2-ply Bristol board, large enough to accommodate artwork 10" x 15".

Drawing board. This can be a drawing table or merely a flat board which you hold on your lap. Either way, you always need some such thing upon which to rest your sheet of illustration paper.

Rag. This plain ol' hunk of any kind of cloth is used to wipe your pen points, brushes, and whatever. The sloppier you are, the more you'll need it.

Ink compass. Well, how else are you gonna draw circles? While you're at it, you might as well get a pencil compass, too-even though Johnny forgot to draw one for you.

Of course, there are some things we omitted, like a chair to sit on and a light so that you can see what you're doing in case you work in the dark. Also, it's a good idea to have a room to work in-otherwise your pages can get all messy in the rain. But we figured you'd know all this.

And now, onward!

Just to make sure we all use the same language and there's no misunderstanding when we refer to things, let's review the various names for many of the elements that make up a typical comicbook page.

A. The first page of a story, with a large introductory illustration, is called the splash page.

B: Letters drawn in outline, with space for color to be added, are called open letters.

C: Copy which relates to a title is called a blurb.

D: The name of the story is, of course, the title.

E: An outline around lettering done in this jagged shape is called a splash balloon.

F: A single illustration on a page is called a panel.

G: The space between panels is called the gutter.

H: You won't be surprised to know that this "ZAT" is a sound effect.

I: Copy which represents what a character is thinking is a thought balloon.

J: The little connecting circles on thought balloons are called bubbles. (We'd feel silly calling them "squares"!)

K: The regular speech indicators are called dialogue balloons.

L: The connecting "arrows" on dialogue balloons, showing who is speaking, are called pointers.

M: The words in balloons which are lettered heavier than the other words are referred to as bold words, or bold lettering.

N: This is my favorite part-where the names are. We call it the credits, just like in the movies.

O: All this little technical stuff, showing who publishes the mag and when and where, usually found on the bottom of the first page, is the indicia (pronounced in-deeé -shah).

P: Copy in which someone is talking to the reader, but which is not within dialogue balloons, is called a caption.

Chances are we left out a few other things, but this is all we can think of right now. However, not to worry; we'll fill you in on anything else that comes up as we keep zooming along.

Movin' right along, we now introduce you to one of Marvel's many widely heralded close-ups, so called because the "camera" (meaning the reader's eye) has moved in about as close as possible.

This type of panel, in which the reader's view of the scene is from farther away, enabling him to see the figures from head to toe, is called a medium shot.

And here we have a long shot. In fact, since it shows such an extreme wide-angle scene, you might even call it a panoramic long shot without anyone getting angry at you.

When you're up above the scene, looking down at it, as in this panel, what else could you possibly call it but a bird's-eye view?

On the other hand, when you're below the scene of action, as in this panel, where your eye, level is somewhere near Spidey's heel, we're inclined to refer to it as a worm's-eye view.

A drawing in which the details are obscured by solid black (or any other single tone or color) is called a silhouette. And now that we agree upon the language, let's get back to drawing the pictures...

Copyright © 1978 by Stan Lee and John Buscema

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 13 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 8
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Reprint edition (September 14, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671530771
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671530778
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (282 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is not only the best and most comprehensive book in learning to draw comic book style art, this has some of the most basic, yet most critical drawing techniques, techniques such as the vanishing point, character swatches, layouts and breaking figures down into shapes, for example... I did not have this advantage when I was learning to draw. When I started out as a child, I discovered all of these techniques the difficult way, through trial & error...A process that regrettably takes years. I wish I knew about this book when I was a kid. If I had, I would have advanced so much more as an artist, I couldn't even imagine where I'd be today.
Anyways, I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning how to draw, period. This really is THE book, people. Search no more. It LITERALLY contains everything I know on drawing techniques (& I've been drawing since I've been old enough to hold a pencil). And not only is it informative, it's extremely fun! The way they present thier lessons, reading & practicing along with it makes you feel like you're goofing off with a comic book, as if you weren't learning anything (although you are). Ideal for those with a 30 sec.(or less) attn. span. The only thing that keeps me from rating it 5 stars, however, is that they should encourage readers to take up more of an interest in drawing real life, things around you, as well as comics. Because it's real life elements that serves as inspiration for the true comic book artist. Real life drawing is the foundation for comic book style art.
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Format: Paperback
The art of drawing comics can be very demanding, and any attempt to create a how-to that can teach all of its elements in equal depth is doomed to imperfection. That being said, this is a good starting point for young artists who think they may have some skill and need to know what to do with it.
This was one of the first real "how to draw comics" books and has become a classic over the years. The book describes the tools of the trade, the terms used, and the "Marvel" creation process, covers the basics of anatomy, form, perspective, layout, and the use of black, gives techniques on inking and lettering, and shows examples of how the art can make a story more exciting. Stan Lee's prose is fun to read and John Buscema's art is very clear in illustrating the principles being taught.
If Buscema's art looks a little dated today, it may be because first off, this book was made to be simple and easy to understand, and the art is done likewise, not cluttered up with intense detail and crosshatching. It may also be because he has a solid foundation of a knowledge of anatomy and how to compose a picture for maximum clarity and effect which, unfortunately, certain influential contemporary artists don't have.
This book does not have the room to go into depth on the deeper concepts of comic theory (how to lay out a page, for instance, or how words and images can be used together to heighten mood). For that I would reccomend Will Eisner's "Comics and Sequential Art." For giving a good, basic overall foundation, however, this book does, however, deserve a place on the shelf of any comic artist.
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Format: Paperback
I'll start off by admitting that this book is a bit on the begginers level. However, the first time I picked up this book was when I was seven. Over the years I kept checking it out of the library over and over just to draw the pictures in the book. I didn't even read it until I bought the book at the age of 16. Any time since then that a person has asked me how they can learn to draw super heroes, I always reference this book. I tell them to skip the reading, draw everything, and then go back to read it, then draw everything after they do that.

It's an easy read and was truely inspirational to me in developing my own style of comic art. One of my top favorite books ever.

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Format: Paperback
I think every serious or aspiring artist should own this book. I've had a copy since the early '80s, andit became so dog-eared from frequentuse, that I had to buy another. John Buscema is an excellent teacher. After all, if you're goingto learn to draw, you might as well learn from the best; and John IS the best, IMO. Among other things, the book contains vital rules for drawing in perspective, and drawing lifelike human faces and figures. This is not just a book for comic fans, or kids, it's for everyone!
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Format: Paperback
I remember when this book came out years ago, and was always curious about it. But other of life's callings caused me to never pursue it. Now that I have a six-year-old boy who likes to draw, it renewed it's interest with me, and yes, I picked up a copy from Amazon.com. I'll review it on two fronts.
First, I looked through it myself. I was impressed with the way they started you off with the basics, and got progressively harder. One could say "Duh!" to this, but the good point about it is that it gets you into actually drawing the famous Marvel characters relatively early. Like with the second lesson. It also takes you into the world of the things to look out for if you were involved in putting an actual comic book together. So not only do they cover how to do the action figures, it shows how to draw backgrounds to provide prospective, covers the topic of inking, and even has a chapter on drawing covers! So it does cover the entire spectrum.
Second was how the boy took to it. While he has a busy schedule, and while no, he doesn't spend every waking hour with it, when he does he has been known to spend a couple hours per sitting practicing the drawing. Once I got him past the idea that the first one had to be perfect, and that practicing over and over again was what made you a good illustrator, he took to it very well.
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