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Drawing Words and Writing Pictures

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  954 ratings  ·  37 reviews
"A gold mine of essential information for every aspiring comics artist. Highly recommended." --Scott McCloud

Drawing Words and Writing Pictures is a course on comic creation - for college classes or for independent study - that centers on storytelling and concludes with making a finished comic. With chapters on lettering, story structure, and panel layout, the fifteen lesso
Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 10th 2008 by First Second
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Making Comics by Scott McCloudUnderstanding Comics by Scott McCloudDrawing Words and Writing Pictures by Jessica AbelMastering Comics by Jessica AbelWriting for Comics, Vol. 1 by Alan Moore
How to Make Comics
3rd out of 36 books — 14 voters
Once Upon a Road Trip by Angela N. BlountChasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. SwansonInstruction Manual for the 21st Century Samurai by Alexei Maxim RussellThe Upstairs Room by Johanna ReissCan I See Your I.D.? by Chris  Barton
Best YA Nonfiction
15th out of 33 books — 32 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,210)
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Laura Cushing
Reading this book from the library led me to one conclusion- I need to buy this book. There is just far too much useful material in it for me to digest in the period of a library loan. The book is set up like a course on drawing and writing comics - and I would love to be able to have my own copy so that I can follow that course and do all the exercises.

Definitely on my To Purchase list.

It's very well written and gives plenty of examples and exercises. There are even supplemental materials avai
Wow. This book is so definitive that it's easy to get bogged down. Great resource, but if I relied on just this, I"d lose my mind and stop drawing comics altogether. More of a reference book than a how-to, at least for me.

I guess I do things the easy way -- pack of markers, regular office paper folded up, and a scanner! But it's nice to know all the "real" ways out there, too, and the examples and other tips are helpful.

(More pictures at

Drawing Words and Writing Pictures is more of a course that a book on drawing comics. The authors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden, both comic artists and teachers, have designed the book to follow a 15-week semester. It's easy to follow and each lesson builds on the previous.

The course is comprehensive and covers everything from paneling, storytelling, transitions, lettering, inking, character development, etc. Basically every form of education you need to create y
Paul Mirek
This cartoonist's textbook is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in any aspect of comic-making. Abel and Madden focus on those who want to do it all: drawing, inking, writing, and production, but even those who are interested in just one aspect of the process should explore the other sections as well. For instance, I found the portions on linework and the use of nibs especially interesting, even if I haven't dusted off my art supplies in a while.

Each chapter includes exercises and que
Filling the void in formal comic book education, Drawing Words and Writing Pictures is intended to be a text book for a group (or individuals) to follow over 15 weeks (either with or without a lead instructor). If you read the suggested reading and do every exercise in this book as rigorously as if you were taking a class at school, you will come out the other side a better artist/writer. And you will have in your hands at minimum a mini-comic's worth of material to (self-)publish. The book is n ...more
This is basically a text book for learning how to draw comics.

And it's a damn fine one.

I've always liked to read 'how to' books, even when I already know how to do something. You can never know everything and a good 'how to' book should always teach you something new. This book is a very good 'how to' book. The practice sessions look sensible and effective (even though I haven't done any of them and only plan on trying out a few). The history and theory of comics is solid. The sections on how to
Drawing Words and Writing Pictures can be a guide or a course on how to draw, write, illustrate, create, etc. your own comic book. It is for any kind of comic lover: Superhero, manga, or personal artistic vision—what I call a graphic novel, but I know others don’t agree with that label. The introduction is done as a comic, but also as text, for an alternate way of looking at it. There is also a website that goes along with it where they encourage students to scan in and upload their work to show ...more
Jason Fella
I've bought just about all the "How To Draw Comics" type books out there, and they are mostly pretty mediocre. They have some good info in them, but leave many more questions unanswered. This is definitely the best of the bunch, especially since it talks about much more than just the drawing part of comic creation. Panel design, inking, lettering, etc. is all in here. The presentation and writing style is nice and it flows well.

The only real complaints I have about this book, were mentioned by o
Drawing Words and Writing Pictures can be a guide or a course on how to draw, write, illustrate, create, etc. your own comic book. It is for any kind of comic lover: Superhero, manga, or personal artistic vision—what I call a graphic novel, but I know others don’t agree with that label. The introduction is done as a comic, but also as text, for an alternate way of looking at it. There is also a website that goes along with it where they encourage students to scan in and upload their work to show ...more
My husband brought this home from work (he works at an art college) and it was riveting. Even though I'm not an artist, I found the technical elements of how a comic is produced fascinating and enlightening--it helped me see the medium in a different way. I imagine that if you're an artist, you'll get even more out of it.
This would be a wonderful tool if I were a beginning artist and a perfect textbook for the class I always wanted to take. But I am just a lowly writer, and this had little for me. It talked about storytelling from an artistic perspective, as in moving from panel to panel, but made no mention of writing as anything separate from the art and no mention of collaboration between writers and artists.

I didn't exactly read it cover to cover (don't really need to know how to care for brushes and such),
Where 'Making Comics' is a good start, this book gives practical LESSONS in the art form.
Apr 23, 2009 Mark rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: art
Drawing Words & Writing Pictures is a formal and disciplined textbook for a 15-week college course in creating comics, including homework, and with ample guidelines for DIYers as well. The authors teach cartooning at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, and this book is clearly the result of many hours in the classroom: DW&WP is the best single-volume pragmatic guide on making comics available and, like Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, it makes an equally engaging and illuminating read ...more
I collect books about making comics, and this one was a great surprise. It is very different from its predecessors (Eisner's and McCloud's) in the sense that...
1. it really feels like a course, with plenty of exercises, and
2. the deepness of the technical information is just amazing. They go so far as to tell you how many mm you can use for gutters, and which brands and sizes of nibs and brushes certain artists use.

Extremely through, a manual to keep at hand at all times!
Steve Garvin
Good introduction into the process of creating sequential art, especially comics. It went through everything from setting up the page to inking the drawings to emanata and word bubbles, etc.
Feb 15, 2009 Speedtribes rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: creators and any artist
This is a must read for comic creators along side Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics. As far as I can tell, it's pretty much a massive reference book chock full of useful technical tips, techniques, tool use/missuse, and general comics/manga theory with examples from a host of recent manga and comics creators from all over the industry.

Very useful.
The other reviewers pointed out how this is a good instruction book, and it is. My main beef with this, though? The fact that, to add a spot color (for emphasis and captions, and so on) is a great idea, but don't make that color bright and light. THey used a light orange for the color, and it makes it VERY difficult to make out words and concepts. They do a better job in the follow up book with dark purple, but this color choice was FAIL.
This book provides lessons for turning an idea into an actual comic strip and/or comic book. Basically a classroom in book and includes lessons and assignments.

This is a good resource for those looking to learn comics and includes important elements that are missing in many how-to-draw books.

Covers many technical aspects to drawing and has additional info on the web. Bonus!

Learning Curve
Low: Good for beginners

Sandy Brehl
The deceptively simple subtitle (a definitive course from concept to comic in fifteen lessons) doesn't begin to reflect the detailed, comprehensive, sequential, and professional instructs ions in this self-instruction course in comic creations. it seems to me (a non-artist) that Tis book could be a master course for someone to achieve his/her dreams.
Debbie Hoskins
Written as a comic textbook. I will give it the designation of graphic novel bible. They also have a website that supports the book. It's written for classes, groups, and those working alone. Very supportive and you will learn tons! Jessica and I would argue over the term graphic novel. I like it; she likes the term "comics."
An extensive instruction book on the art of making comics. This would be a great textbook for a class, but perfect for the independent learner. Each lesson includes a homework assignment, a bibliography, and practice activities. This is an excellent tool for comic artists.
rachel williams
I checked this out at my university library because I am working on a comic book with a friend and it never hurts to brush up on things. It was detailed and thorough; everything you need to know if you have an idea for a comic book and you do not know where to start.
Amy Beth
Amazing book about how to learn how to draw comics. I used it as a reference for teaching. It doesn't just give examples and step-by-step, it goes through all the principles so you have a real underpinning of what it's about. The exercises in it are also great.
Mar 08, 2011 Jeeyon is currently reading it
I'm actually skipping around quite a bit to get a feel for their tutorials and the section on technique and inking is fantastic, the best I've read so far (it feels sacrilegious to say I enjoy it better than Scott McCloud's books, but so far I do).
GRPLTeens Grand Rapids Public Library
Written as a graphic novel textbook. I will give it the designation of graphic novel bible. They also have a website that supports the book. It's written for classes, groups, and those working alone. Very supportive and you will learn tons!
Instuctive and informative filled with exercises, assignments, and ideas to really get one into the habit of designing a comic strip. Written in a 15 section lesson plan just like an intro class to graphic novels would be set up like.
This book is an engaging and concise read. It really showed me a lot of technical and stylistic parts of making comics I couldn't find elsewhere. Very good for people like me who want to draw a comic but don't know how to start.
Jessica Duverneay
gave a teen book talk on this one for an interview - pretty sweet - acknowledges that people like to work alone, and that people like to work in groups. excellent illustrations, pragmatic information.
I'm not really interested in making my own comics, but if I was this would be my bible. I was able to take a lot of useful information away from this, though, about brushes and reproducing your work.
Very helpful book with lots of useful advice. Its what made me start taking comicbook making seriously. However I never used the exerises so I can't speak for how useful they are.
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Cartoonist and writer Jessica Abel is the author of the graphic novelLa Perdida(Pantheon Books) as well as two textbooks about making comics,Drawing Words & Writing PicturesandMastering Comics(First Second Books), written in collaboration with her husband, the cartoonist Matt Madden. She's also the co-writer of the graphic novelLife Sucks.
Previously, she publishedSoundtrackandMirror, Window(F
More about Jessica Abel...
La Perdida Life Sucks Soundtrack: Short Stories '90-'96 Radio: An Illustrated Guide Mirror, Window: Artbabe Coll.

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