BOOK REVIEW: 'Make Comics Like the Pros: The Inside Scoop on How to Write, Draw, and Sell Your Comic Books and Graphic Novels': Outstanding Book for Creators, Fans

Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
BOOK REVIEW: 'Make Comics Like the Pros: The Inside Scoop on How to Write, Draw, and Sell Your Comic Books and Graphic Novels': Outstanding Book for Creators, Fans

It's not often that a step-by-step guide to all aspects of a subject works for both creators and fans, but that's what  happens with "Make Comics Like the Pros: The Inside Scoop on How to Write, Draw, and Sell Your Comic Books and Graphic Novels" (Watson-Guptill Publications, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, 160 pages, index, large format paperback, 100 B&W images, 100 color ones, $22.99).

The book by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente is focused on giving step-by-step advice to comic book writers and artists but it also educates readers and fans of this form of literature. I'm not even close to being an expert on comic books, despite reading many in my youth when they cost about 10 cents a copy (they're typically $3.99 today!), but I learned a lot about the creative process and especially the distribution process of comic books.

I was surprised that there's only one major distribution company for comic books, Diamond Comic Book Distributors of Baltimore. Retailers have to deal with Diamond or do without. For more about the distribution of comic books, see pages  109 to 114. Van Lente draws heavily on his own "The Comic Book History of Comic Books" in the present volume. It probably would be a good idea to acquire that book if you are serious about breaking into the comics biz.

What Pak and Van Lente offer in their books is a  step-by-step guide to all aspects of comic book creation--from conceptualization to early drafts to marketing and promotion. It's not written by outsiders, but by two of the industry's most seasoned and successful professionals. 

Creating comic books is a highly collaborative effort. If you think one man or woman -- yes, there are many women in what was almost exclusively a boys' club -- does everything, think again!

There are many creative roles available — writer, penciller, inker, colorist, letterer, editor, and more. Each creator serves a vital function in the production of sequential art at companies such as DC, Marvel, Image, and Valiant.

Pak and Van Lente team up with a who’s who of the modern comic book scene to lead you step-by-step through the development of a comic. With these two fan-favorite writers as your guides, you’ll learn everything from script formatting to the importance of artistic collaboration to the best strategies for promoting and selling your own sequential art masterpiece. 

Pak and Van Lente even put their lessons into practice inside the pages of the book—pairing with Eisner Award–winning cartoonist Colleen Coover (Bandette) to produce the swashbuckling, adventure comic Swordmaids, and giving you front row seats to their creative process. "Make Comics Like the Pros" provides all the answers you’ve been seeking to take your comic book–making dreams all the way to professional-level reality.


About the Authors

GREG PAK is an award-winning comic book writer and filmmaker currently writing Batman/Superman and Action Comics for DC Comics, Turok Dinosaur Hunter for Dynamite Entertainment, and Eternal Warrior for Valiant Comics. He directed the award-winning feature film Robot Stories, wrote the epic “Planet Hulk” and “World War Hulk” comic storylines, and co-wrote (with Fred Van Lente) fan-favorite Incredible Hercules for Marvel Comics.

FRED VAN LENTE is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Marvel Zombies, Incredible Hercules (with Pak), Odd Is on Our Side (with Dean R. Koontz), and the American Library Association award-winning Action Philosophers. His original graphic novel Cowboys & Aliens (co-written with Andrew Foley) was the basis for the major motion picture. Van Lente’s other comics include The Comic Book History of Comics, Archer & Armstrong, and The Amazing Spider-Man. Pak and Van Lente are both residents of New York City.

For my Aug. 3, 2014 review of "Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels" by Brian Michael Bendis, from the same publisher, click:


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