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

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  576 ratings  ·  94 reviews
Best-selling Marvel Comics writer Brian Michael Bendis reveals the comic book writing secrets behind his work on The Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, All-New X-Men, and more.

One of the most popular writers in modern comics, Brian Michael Bendis reveals the tools and techniques he and other top creators use to create some of the most popular comic book and graphic novel stori
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 22nd 2014 by Watson-Guptill (first published January 1st 2014)
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4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  576 ratings  ·  94 reviews


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Sam Quixote
Jun 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I’ve never taken a creative writing course in my life but I’ve never understood why anyone would if the teacher was an unknown writer, as most tend to be. The only “how to write” book I’ve ever read was “On Writing” by Stephen King, which made sense to me as he’s an enormously successful novelist - of course he’s worth listening to! - and it also turned out to be a very entertaining read, one of King’s best in fact.

Similarly, Brian Michael Bendis is best placed to pen a “how to write comics” bo
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Stewart Tame
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'd go so far as to say that this is one of the better How To Write books that I've read. Bendis brings his considerable expertise and enthusiasm to bear on the topic, and provides bountiful examples, and not just from his own work, either. Indeed, there are several chapters in which various writers, artists, and editors are encouraged to give their own, sometimes differing, opinions on the subject. There are copious illustrations along with the text, showing comics pages in various stages of pr ...more
Mike
In a word: awesome.
Anthony
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Brian Michael Bendis has written a lot of comics. A LOT OF COMICS. He's had several very successful runs on various Marvel titles, and has some critically acclaimed creator owned work to his name.

He's been a regular guest on a comic book podcast called Word Balloon for nearly 10 years and often answers fan questions, most of those questions being about the craft of writing and making comics.

More recently, he has taken to the blog site Tumblr to answer fan questions more directly on the business
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Jordan
Oct 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
I had been looking forward to this book for a long time and had very high hopes, so some disappointment should probably be expected. But my, what a letdown. Bendis is probably the most open comic creator on the planet, and his lively letters columns and Q&A sessions are always full of helpful, honest advice. I assumed this book would expand on those and add some new depth to the conversation, resulting in a really valuable resource. Instead, it's all very vague, sparse and more basic than ba ...more
Ian
Feb 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
One of the silliest books of art theory I've ever read.

The introductory chapter is about how Bendis isn't famous and how most people don't know JK Rowling's name. Even if either of those statements were vaguely true, why do they belong in this book? Right off the bat, it reads like a first draft.

The chapters about process read more like Tumblr FAQs than art theory. What few insights Bendis offers get driven into the ground without elaboration, ultimately streaming back to his main point: "I dunn
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Caitlin
Apr 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've been reading graphic novels for years but for the most part didn't bother to learn the business or process behind it. This is one of the best books I've read about the genre and easily the best on how writer and artists collaborate, the ways to get into the business and the mistakes to avoid if you want to break into the industry.

Despite being a regular reader and reviewer of graphic novels, I have to admit that prior to reading Words for Pictures, I had only a vague idea of the process. Af
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Bobby
Aug 14, 2014 rated it liked it
The book is sold as a "how to write and get into the business of being a comic book writer." And to that, it has a lot of basic information, but very few actual tips and tools to show you how to do it.

A quick example: the importance of a cliffhanger is highlighted and explained. Everyone who has watched a TV show or read a comic knows what a cliffhanger is. What isn't explained is how to actually construct one. What are the story elements and character elements that go into the cliffhanger? Und
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Joey Cruz
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for writers wanting to get into the comics business. Bendis is the name on the cover, but what he does is compile the thoughts, experiences, and advice of all of his professional comic creator friends in interviews that touch on every essential topic an aspiring comic creator should know.
Genevieve
* Originally reviewed on the Night Owls Press blog here. *

Storytelling is a craft and a business. This is a central maxim in Words for Pictures The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels by Brian Michael Bendis.

Words for Pictures is a fascinating 101-type introduction to the world of visual storytelling—and it is one of the first books on this topic targeted directly at writers. With Words for Pictures, Bendis has written a modern-day guidebook to breaking into comics and graphic
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Jason Pym
Jun 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, non-fiction
This is more like “an introduction to…”, and while it has some interesting information and points you in the right direction, it does not go into the nuts and bolts of any aspect of comic book writing: This is not the place to find information on character, plot and good dialogue, or even comic specific information that you find in McCloud’s Understanding Comics (which I thought this would be like). To give an example, there’s a chapter on the business side of things by Bendis’ wife which has a ...more
Gamal Hennessy
As a child, the first book I recall getting my hands on about the comic book industry was How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way. After I got out of law school, I got my hands on Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. The first book exposed me to comics as a technical skill and not just a bunch of cool pictures. The second book reintroduced me to comics as an art form and not just a childish obsession. Words for Pictures is a book on the same level. It describes the creative and practical aspects of ...more
Annice22
Borrowed from Publisher/NetGalley for an honest review.

This was full of information and I like this even more that it wasn't an "how to write" book. Because there is no perfect formula for writing the perfect story. The book does include interviews from some of the experts in the industry from writers to editors where they share their advice for dealing with the industry.

As a comic book fan, I see the final product but this book lets you see what goes on behind the scenes in a way because get to
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Trey Piepmeier
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. I'm glad I came across this book in my search for advice and information on the world of comic book writing. There are parts of this I'm going to refer to often, I'm sure.

While this book is directed at people who are interested in writing comics, I think it would interest anyone who enjoys reading comics as well. I found it fascinating to realize that a comic book writer basically writes for an audience of one; the artist. Because of that, there's no standard format for a comic script
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Todd
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are no shortcuts.

There are no quick in's or out's.

There is just doing the work.

I've read many writing help books, from Stephen King to Steven Pressfield. From Deborah Chester to now Brian Michael Bendis. The one piece of advice set into the firmament is that you aren't going to find a magical way to get your words cranked out. There isn't a meat-grinder for ideas to turn them into sentences. There is simply reading and there is writing. And you will do it until you produce something finish
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Josh
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Bendis is a top name in comics, and he clearly brings that experience to the table in "Words for Pictures." But in equal measure--and embracing the diverse approaches that art entails--the book also features the voices and perspectives of a wealth of other creators and professions in the comics world (admittedly with a Marvel-focused leaning).

The result is a book that doesn't focus as heavily on craft as some books might--though many of the basics are certainly covered. Rather, "Words to Pictur
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Javier HG
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
El cómic es uno de los medios culturales de más éxito si lo juzgamos con base en los personajes reconocidos que ha creado (Spiderman, Tintín, Asterix y Obelix por citar solo algunos) y su "exportación" también con éxito a otros medios (TV, cine, videojuegos).
Para el gran público Brian Michael Bendis es un desconocido pero en el mundo del cómic es un autor muy reconocido, habiendo creado no solo contenido propio (Powers) sino también para Marvel (la franquicia Ultimate Spiderman es prácticamente
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Morrigan
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I did a degree in creative writing over a decade ago, comics were considered silly and dying out. Would have killed for source material like this.
These days I read a lot of books like this, attend author seminars at my local library or workshops at the Writer's Centre. Usually, if only 90% is content I knew already, I consider it time and money well spent. This book though, it's going to wind up a mess margin notes, post it book marks and highlighter. Great reading for writers, artists and self
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Blaine McGaffigan
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This guide on how to write comic books and break into the industry is crafted by not only a talented writer, but a teacher who has honed these ideas over the years teaching in University classrooms.

Brian Michael Bendis is one of the top pop comic book writers. He has pioneered the modern “write for the trade” style of comics, and excels in sharp dialogue for the characters. Bendis constructs a very easy to read book that uses visuals and industry interviews to show viewpoints outside of his own.
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Joe Pinney
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific book that in very clear layman’s terms explains the process of writing for comics and graphic novels, as well as the business of comics as it pertains to writers, whether a writer is also an artist or not. Bendis, one of the most prominent comic writers today, enlists the input of an assortment of artists, editors, and even his wife, who runs the family business (the business of Bendis’ writing), to assist him in communicating what’s recommended and what pitfalls to avoid for anyone con ...more
Tracy
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
Not what I was looking for. This is primarily interviews with other creators, which is fine but I was hoping for more in-depth content and advice about how to decide how to frame a scene or break it into panels. Also, I'm looking to do indie comics, doing my own illustrations, and this is much more focused on collaboration, particularly through one of the mainstream publishers. DNF about 3/4 through.
A.J. Bauers
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-craft
For any person interested in writing a script for a comic book, this is really a must-read.

The most important lesson I learned from this is that the author writes for the artist first, then the audience. If you can write a scene that's visually dynamic or interesting, your comic book isn't going to do well. Let's face it, it doesn't matter how well written a comic book is--it's a visual medium first. So if you can't write with that in mind, comic book writing might not be your field.
Mitchell
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A bit think but still interesting. A different kind of how to write comics book. Lots of example comic art pages. Some good specifics. Actually a lot of other people's words from interviews. It definitely made specific observations as to how writing for comics is different than writing for other mediums. 3.5 of 5.
David Freudenburg
Oct 19, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a book to help people who write for comics and graphic novels. It gives a lot of wonderful information and advice on how to do it and how to get published. What a tremendous gift from someone who has been through the process. I don't write for comics, but if I did, this book would be worth gold! For ME, it was helpful to learn about the creative process and how it happens.
Kevin Carey
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I can't describe how inspiring and insightful I found this book to be. Really helpful and helps light those creative fires.
Ollie Higgs
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely fantastic read! A really great look at the comics industry, by one of my favourite writers. Loved this.
James
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Amazing. A surefire primer for what to expect when choosing to be a writer for comics and meeting the people you come in contact with.
Anthony Schultz
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
“Words for Pictures” is an interesting text— More-so because it is exactly that: A textbook. The author, Brian Michael Bendis, is a writer that I have read for years; he has written some of my favorite superhero tales from the modernization of the New Avengers to his current X-Men runs to the stellar Secret Invasion and Age of Ultron Marvel events. He is the quintessential rockstar of the comic book world, or as he would put it: Comic book famous.

Rarely do audiences get to see the man behind the
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S.Q. Eries
Oct 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: comic, nonfiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Kinchen
Aug 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
BOOK REVIEW: 'Words for Pictures': Exhaustive, Entertaining Look at the Writer's Role in Creating Comics and Graphic Novels

REVIEWED BY DAVID M. KINCHEN

In one of those strange coincidences that often occur in my life, the review copy of "Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels" by Brian Michael Bendis (Watson-Guptil Publications, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC; foreword by Joe Quesada; large format paperback, $24.99,
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1,795 followers
A comic book writer and erstwhile artist. He has won critical acclaim (including five Eisner Awards) and is one of the most successful writers working in mainstream comics. For over eight years Bendis’s books have consistently sat in the top five best sellers on the nationwide comic and graphic novel sales charts.

Though he started as a writer and artist of independent noir fiction series, he shot
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“While talent will certainly open the door for you, it’s about failing and knowing how to do so properly.” 2 likes
“IRVING: Flowery prose. Verbosity. Some folks think they’re Neil Gaiman, and have ambitions of their scripts being reprinted for their adoring fans to pore over, when in reality, scripts are working documents designed to provide the narrative framework for their collaborators to decorate and embellish with imagery.” 1 likes
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