How To Create Comics
by Danny Fingeroth & Mike Manley
Although perhaps best known for his long stint as a comic book writer at Marvel, Danny Fingeroth currently publishes Write Now!, a magazine about the fine art of writing comics. Former creative partner Mike Manley, a veteran penciller and inker, publishes his own comic-oriented magazine as well: the predictably-titled Draw!, targeted at aspiring artists. In classic comic style, it was only a matter of time until the inevitable crossover…
How To Create Comics is, well, the trade paperback chronicling the events of this momentous event, and it’s a solid read for any would-be creative team.
Fingeroth and Manley spend the majority of the 104 pages collected here walking the reader through the creative process behind their character The Thief Of Time, a rather uninteresting and somewhat stereotypical comic property. Although the character itself and the somewhat contrived story pitch is far from top shelf material, the meat of the book isn’t the story they’re creating but rather how they’re doing it. The details of this process are the kind of tips and tricks the aspiring comic auteur will need to take his/her ideas and turn them into something tangible.
A lot of attention early on is spent on the brainstorming and character development process, but the discussions here pale in importance to the more technical information on scripting (full script vs “marvel style” plot-first), pencilling, inking and word balloon positioning. Tools of the trade are discussed including the different type of inking brushes and pens and the various software packages currently used in the workflow at major publishers (Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark, etc). The result is a concise how-to on the comic and graphic novel creation process, supplemented by recommendations on how to pitch to publishers or, if finances and guts permit, self-publishing your creations.
Other topics covered include the coloring and printing processes, important web resources, as well as some revealing recollections by the team about their time spent together working on the Marvel title Darkhawk. TwoMorrows publisher John Morrow makes a critical contribution towards the end of the book, on the self-publishing, printing, and distribution of comic books.
Although I’m somewhat underwhelmed by the sample material the creators provide, and honestly not a huge fan of Fingeroth’s storytelling repertoire, I can’t help but regard these guys as real career pros. What they’ve provided here is the closest thing you’ll find to a comic creation tutorial, an essential reference for anyone who’s ever hoped to self-publish or make a serious bid at a career in the field that was once regarded as “funny books”. Now get to it, True Believers.