Comic Resources: Reading and Designing

Like many of you, I am hunkering down at home for the time being.  While I’m not bored, I know a lot of people are probably struggling to adjust to this unexpected break from normal activities and keep themselves (or their kids) occupied.  I’ve seen a lot of suggestions that people use this time to start a hobby or learn a skill they’ve always wanted to try, so I thought I’d provide some reading and design resources for any comic book enthusiasts out there.

This is also a fun opportunity for me to dabble and doodle a little myself.  It’s been a while. 😊

strawberry

My first strawberry!

Want to Read a Comic? — Hoopla

This site is a great resource for reading comics.  Hoopla has a large collection of comics, ranging from newspaper comic collections to graphic novels by acclaimed authors and artists.  If you have a local library, check their website to see if you can gain free access to Hoopla through your library membership.

Hoopla’s interface works well with both laptops and cellphones.  If you double tap the screen on your phone while reading your comic, you can zoom in and scroll through the pages panel by panel so that the text is easy to read.

Want to Create a Comic?

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Use reality as a springboard for your comic creativity.

Tip 1.  As with writing a regular book, start with what you know.  Consider what you can draw well and then think of a story that will incorporate these elements.  (See featured image for examples of how I applied this to my own sketches.  Leaves, trees, flowers, and simple animal shapes are what I’m comfortable drawing).  Try to choose a story that deals with topics, settings, or characters you are familiar with.  You can add fun or fantastical elements, but familiarity is often the best foundation for a story.

Tip 2.  If you’re uncomfortable committing to a design, practice drafting your art with a pen.  You can discard what you don’t like because this is just practice. Consider using scrap paper or the blank sides of used paper so that the pressure is off for you to maximize each page and you don’t feel bad about throwing your sketches away if they don’t turn out.  This is the brainstorming stage, the rough draft, so just relax and have fun!  You need to get your ideas down before you will have anything to work with.  Also, you won’t know what you like or dislike unless you explore a little first.  Try something new and see where it takes you.

Tip 3.  Vary the tools you use to figure out what suits your project’s style and your personal preference.  The beginning of a hobby or a project is the best time to explore your possibilities so that you don’t unwittingly limit yourself.  If you become hooked on the first medium you try (pen, pencil, charcoal, etc.), you may never discover that you really love something else even more.  This will also give you more tools in your artistic tool bag so you can adapt your medium to suit particular projects.

Additional Resources

Happy reading and drawing!

arrietty pic

-ARRIETTY-

Making Comics: A Resource

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Do you want to make comics, or maybe just have a better understanding to be able to critically read and evaluate? These two desires drove me in high school not only to read and draw my own, but also to try and find resources on how to effectively tell stories in the comic book medium. A great tool that I found was the book Making Comics.

What NOT to expect

If you are looking for a step by step guide of any kind, or if you are looking for an anatomy introduction or beginners course in perspective look elsewhere (Figure Drawing for Dummies). Scott McCloud, the author, is interested in principles, not formulas. While this does not mean that the above are not present in abbreviated form, this book’s primary focus is on broader principles. McCloud is interested in presenting options and information, not teaching a color by numbers approach.

What to expect

Scott McCloud’s book is unique in that it is actually a comic book itself. This means that while he is teaching principles, the book itself is demonstrating the very things he is talking about. He discusses in depth the use of page layout and its interaction with pacing and intensity. He talks about art, and using it on its own and in conjunction with words to most effectively communicate ideas, emotions, and story. All the while, the pages of his book visually reinforce everything he is discussing.

Conclusion

Scott McCloud’s book Making Comics is by far the most valuable resource I have found for learning the principles surrounding effective comic making. It is easy to read, but eminently approachable and useful since it is in comic book form itself. Scott has studied this art form his whole life, and he is able to concisely communicate core ideas in a natural way. Whether you want to make comics, or simply be better equipped to read and evaluate the comic books in your personal collection, this is an excellent resource.

-FLINT-

Comix: for all your Linux comic needs

Comix_ScreenshotWith ereaders and tablets blooming, more and more comic books are moving into digital formats. This week I wanted to share a comic book viewer with you. I recently started messing around in the world of Linux, and discovered a comic book reader called Comix that allows comic book lovers to view .cbr and .cbz files. I haven’t been able to use it extensively, but the software does have some very useful features. One of the features that could come in handy is the “Manga” mode that turns pages right to left. This would be very beneficial since manga is a growing style of comic here in the U.S. Below is a picture of some of the different viewer settings, including the “Manga” setting (second from right):

Screenshot

The software is also very intuitive to use, and provides an immersive reading experience. Although I do not have a picture of it here, Comix does allow readers to enter full screen so that all of the menus are hidden and don’t distract from the reading experience.

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In the coming weeks I plan to test comic readers for Windows and write up a report on those since I know most people don’t run Linux. Do you have a comic reader that you use? If so, let me know which one.

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-flint-

Credits:

  • Comic Book used in screenshots: Insufferable by Mark Waid (I am not promoting anything on the Thrillbent website. Not all of the comics are child or teen appropriate. Visit at your own risk).
  • Software: http://comix.sourceforge.net/