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The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics

(DC Comics Guides)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,122 ratings  ·  56 reviews
For any writer who wants to become an expert comic-book storyteller, The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics is the definitive, one-stop resource!

In this valuable guide, Dennis O’Neil, a living legend in the comics industry, reveals his insider tricks and no-fail techniques for comic storytelling. Readers will discover the various methods of writing scripts (full script vs.
Paperback, 128 pages
Published June 1st 2001 by Watson-Guptill (first published May 2001)
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 ·  1,122 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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Jul 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, writing
This is an introduction to writing for the comics industry. The content covers some of the basics of writing such as Chekhov's gun and Hitchcock's thoughts on suspense, so those with some understanding of story writing and structure won't find much new here. Perhaps it would be a good book for someone who is writing for the first time and hasn't read much about writing. For me, the best part of the book is that it includes a lot of inked DC comics without the colors. Those pages are beautiful to ...more
Wes Locher
Oct 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
The DC Guide to Writing Comics by Dennis O'Neil is a quick little romp through the utter basics of story structure, scripting, and dialoging.

Having been a huge fan of comic books for as long as I can remember, I've always had the desire to write and publish my own mainly just because I think it would be fun. For me, sequential art has always been a medium that ties together well-written prose with artwork that's exciting and and full of detail.

If you don't know the first thing about writing
Oct 17, 2008 rated it liked it
There is a common idea that you have to know the formula to break it. This book gives the formula to DC comics. It is sort of sad and demystifying, but for the most part maybe we could already see through it. I am glad DC is not overrun by this formula, but I can definitely see its presence. The author says every super hero story should start with action, so someone picking up your book will buy it. Now I want to go to a comic store and look to see if that is the general rule. What if it is, and ...more
Eugene booker
Oct 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Books great for any begging writer, get all the trade from Denny Oneil.
It goes into things like story structre and writing graphic novels, short stories and the like. Reccomended for anyone who wants to know ho to write comics!
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
a very clear guide to writing comics. It was technical for sure, but it shied away from incredibly dreary material. but at points it was boring
Nov 10, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: writing
This is actually a pretty terrible book. Much of that is because I just finished Alan Moore's book on writing so maybe he ruined it for me. But O'Neil is so conservative in his ideas about writing that he never really suggests anything that would actually distinguish one as a better writer. It seems like a lot of what Moore considers in his book to be irrelevant. And Moore was writing in 1985.

True, a lot of what O'Neil does say sounds like the lesson plan from your Middle School English
Apr 29, 2012 rated it liked it
I spent some time reading through this cover to cover, as I'm currently working on some comic book scripts and thought it might be helpful. I didn't learn much from this I didn't already know. There were a couple of good bits, one on characterization (very similar to what an author or actor does in theatre) and one on script preparation -- going from plot to outline to prose (very similar to what I have been doing). Other than that, I found it very basic information on storytelling and some ...more
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great for beginners

I won't get too deep into the book during this review. But as someone venturing into the world of writing comics for the first time, this was an excellent read. Plenty of helpful hints and important terminology. The thing that differentiates The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics is that they actually showed pages of actual scripts and then, how that particular script was translated into a finished comic book page.
Mira Domsky
May 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Definitely a useful handbook for amateurs, however, many of the examples of what a comic should look like or do are so old that they don't apply to modern comic writing. But what do I know? I'm an amateur, and O'Neil is a veteran.
Michael Scott
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics introduces the reader to writing for the comics medium. Overall, very good material and much to learn.

Best bit: the in-depth discussion and examples about structure. (The detailed examples and discussions about them were also good, but at this level I find writing idiosyncratic.)

Content: The book covers processes for writing (full script vs. the looser plot-first technique, preparing the complete script, writing for single issues, miniseries and
Karleen Elizabeth
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I was required to read this Guide by Dennis O’Neil for my Writing Workshop III: Comics college course. I knew nothing about comics and I don’t read very many so this book was very helpful to me with all the definitions it has. I read a few reviews where people felt that it had to many definitions, but I think for someone like me who knows zero about writing comics those definitions are important.

Now I did have some issues with the way that it was written and some parts felt a bit tedious to
David Sparvero
Jan 31, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a quick read but it did offer some great information on various storytelling elements. I am glad I read it and did find it somewhat helpful. At least half of it is general information that was not new to me but the authors commentary on the information was beneficial. And honestly, anything but Dennis O'Neil is grat.
Andrew Mills
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Dennis O'Neil's book offers great advice for writers who want to learn more about plot structure, story arcs, subplots and more. I particularly liked when he compared and contrasted to devices in other media (such as television or movies), and pointed out limitations or unique benefits of the comics media.
Travis Webber
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Sometimes I read how-to books, for the enjoyment of listening to skilled professionals talk enthusiastically about their hard-earned abilities and finely-honed workflows. This was a good book, but is pitched at a more introductory level than I needed to scratch that itch.
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best, most accessible books on the craft of writing (not just comics writing) I have ever read. There is a great deal of application to other forms of writing that I am looking forward to working with, using the lessons here as inspiration.
James Hold
Nov 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
I didn't get much from this. The advice is pretty general: start with the ending, etc. Otherwise it's mostly a lot of definitions. O'Neil wrote this in a annoying 'cute' style which did not help. It's an oky starter, but Stan Lee's book is far superior.
Dennis Jacob Rosenfeld
Good for beginners. If somewhat knowledgeable this might not provide any new insights. Somewhat disappointing considering some of the amazing writing O'Neil has done in his career.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Solid book on writing comics. Covering many facets of the field.
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
this comic makes me feel happy
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
Whether you really want to try your hand at writing comics or are just interested in how the product comes together, The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics is an enlightening little book, profusely illustrated with real-life experiences and actual comics panels and pages. Best of all, it is written by Dennis (usually known as Denny) O’Neill—both a classic comics writer and an influential editor of classic comics.
The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics underscores some of the lessons learned in
Sep 10, 2012 added it
Shelves: how-to
Another how-to guide, this time focusing on comics from one master. I've already flipped through Stan Lee's How to Write Comics: From the Legendary Co-Creator of Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Iron Man, so I think I've got an idea of how to write a "how to write comic books" book.

I liked both Stan Lee's and Dennis O'Neil's books on how to write comics and they're pretty comparable: both have sections on vocabulary, both discuss the importance of three-act structure,
Feb 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes, there just is no school like the old-school.

In this book, Denny O'Neil covers the 3-act structure, something I only vaguely understood, gives his two cents on the various categories of comic book series (miniseries, maxiseries, ongoing title, graphic novel, etc.), and gives understandable definitions to comic book terminology, such as panels, pages, story-arcs, and what-not. If I didn't like Denny O'Neil much before, I love him now.

Though what I was looking for in this book (a guide
Eric England
Jul 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics by Dennis O'Neil is a fun and informative read that provides much helpful advice to novice writers. While the book is a bit basic and aimed at those truly starting in the field of writing, there are plenty of useful tips that aid any writer working in all mediums. I found that the Levitz Paradigm was an intriguing and innovative means of structuring multiple plot lines for an ongoing comic series. I think it could also work well for television and other ...more
Tyler Hayes
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Not only the best book on writing comics I have ever read, but one of the best books on writing. O'Neil approaches characterization, three-act structure, and other pillars of the craft with a simple, conversational tone that brings the core ideas across in a way that is neither intimidating nor difficult, and really makes the reader feel like he is here to help them tell their stories in the best way they can. Some of his advice is very specific to comics (most notably the script format), but a ...more
Serge Pierro
Nov 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
A good introductory book on the essence of writing for comics. Nothing of profound depth is presented within, but it does contain all of the relevant material to get one up and running. Writing itself isn't taught, so the aspiring comic writer would have to supplement this book with those that actually teach the writing process. Sample pages from scripts are contained within - including Sandman by Neil Gaiman!
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
Denny O'Neil provides very useful information about D.C. Comics' writing protocol. The books is a quick read and has great black & white artwork.

It's nice that the Detective Comics company has, basically, a manual for novice comics writers. I'm positive that O'Neil's book will be a very useful reference more than anything.

Read it once. Keep it close to flip through as you write your own original story drafts.
Charlie Wilson
Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Although a tad simplistic, O'Neil's book was a good how-to guide for beginners. The only reason I gave it four stars was that it could be a bit patronising, and his 'I'm just a good pal having a chat' tone irritated me, taking an almost 'I know better than you' tone. I mean, he does know better than me, but it still irritated me.
Jason Hammons
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Denny O'Neil is a true master of the craft of storytelling. This book is so full of fantastic advice and guidelines from not only O'Neil, but many other masters as well. This book is worth its price in what it taught me about outlining alone, not to mention the numerous other valuable lessons. I'll be referring back this one for years.
May 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Overall it makes for a good reference book for those interested in writing comics, but it has its limitations since it mostly covers writers who have worked for DC (although not exclusively); hence the title. A more complete picture would have included writers representing both DC and Marvel, as well as the independents, underground and foreign publishers.
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: comic book writers and artists
Recommended to Andrew by: barnes and noble
Tells you everything you need to know about writing comic books, and the history of it. It even goes to describe the basic elements of comic books, and describes the elements of the past. I've actually seen new comic books use old elements very well, like the "POW!" and the hero being alerted to dangers around him, etc.
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Dennis O'Neil is a comic book writer and editor best known for his work for Marvel Comics and DC Comics from the 1960s through the 1990s, and Group Editor for the Batman family of titles until his retirement.

His best-known works include Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Batman with Neal Adams, The Shadow with Michael Kaluta and The Question with Denys Cowan. As an editor, he is principally known for

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DC Comics Guides (6 books)
  • The DC Comics Guide to Pencilling Comics
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