Sarah Eitelberg

Book Review: Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels

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Everyone wants that magic advice that will unlock the door into mastering an art; be it painting, sculpting, or even writing comics. A simple phrase that clicks your brain into understanding an ancient secret that pros have been using for years or a detailed map of all the steps needed to become the next Stan Lee. Brian Michael Bendis doesn’t have the magical answer that will transform you into being the next big thing in comics today. He says that right in his introduction, but being a comic and graphic novel teacher at Portland University, he might teach you a thing or two.

Cover of Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels

Cover of Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels

Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Publisher: Watson-Guptill

Release date: July 22, 2014

Do you aspire to a career in comics?
Order a copy of Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels today!

Bendis tells his journey into the “business” of how he went from a young boy dreaming of making a comic to being an award winning comic writer. In a world before the great comic popularity boom and internet there wasn’t a lot “how to” books on creating comics and Brian Michael took anything could get. It gives a sense of inspiration that this man could go from just a boy with a well-worn copy of How to Draw Marvel Comics to teaching classes about comic books at a University.

I loved the Matt Fraction piece tucked in the middle of the book too. As one of my favorite comic writers, I was delighted to see he had a pretty long article inside. No little word blurb or snippet, he has a hand full of pages of advice and examples of script writing for comics. Brain Michael includes other writers as well throughout the book, all who have great stories and advice to the reader, but I’m pretty sure I read Matt’s section at least three times. A close second to Mr. Fraction’s piece was Joe Quesada’s inspirational forward. The message of even that talent alone can’t carry you in the comic business is reassuring to the hesitant artist and or writer, like myself.

Obviously comics aren’t just about writing. They are a marriage of great tales and amazing illustration to tell wonderful and enticing stories to the reader. This book doesn’t leave this out. Bendis and his fellow writers talk about their relationships with their artists. They even get some fantastic comic artists to give their opinions on working with writers. It was interesting to see that each writer and artist team up had a different dynamic; I always thought there was an unspoken rule in these regards. Learn something new every day.

A great addition to library of the inspiring comic writer, Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels is a great, realistic insight into the comic world. Nothing seems sugar coated and gives a real look into the business or behind the scenes of the dynamics of making comic books. Giving insight into how each different section of the comic process sees and thinks about writers really seemed to make this book stand out from the usual how to book.   While obviously not the magic solution, it gives a lot of great advice and tidbits that I’m sure these great comic writers wishes they had had back in their rookie days.

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