If you grew up enjoying comic books like me, you probably have entertained the notion of writing or drawing your own comic book one day. It’s a thrilling and unique medium, and it clearly takes a team effort to bring the adventures of your favorite super-heroes to life month after month.
That, by the way, is the gist of the message in the new book, Make Comics Like the Pros, by comic book veterans Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente: teamwork.
The 150-page trade paperback book is a well-presented behind-the-scenes look into the production of comic books, from idea to script, from art to final production. Each area gets its own detailed chapter, complete with sample scripts, artwork and more along the way.
But, overall, the book’s main mission statement is abundantly clear: a comic book is all about collaboration. It’s about being flexible, with each participant in the process agreeing to be flexible and open to alternative ideas or ways of presenting the story to readers.
Yes, the idea may start with the writer – as do most things, whether it is a book, ad campaign or a movie – but unless the writer also happens to be the artist and editor, it certainly doesn’t end there. The artist and editor will also have plenty to say before the final product makes it to the presses. In that respect, comic book production is not unlike the production of a television episode, where the writer is just one voice in a roomful of writers, producers, actors and directors who ultimately will also have input into the execution of the final script.
If you can’t work collaboratively, and be willing to embrace, and sometimes concede to other ideas even when you are adamantly against it, then you are probably better off scribing novels. At least then you will only have an editor or agent to contend with, not a whole platoon of creative minds.
Pak and Van Lente speak from vast experience in the comic book business. Pak has written dozens of storylines for DC Comcis, Marvel, Dynamite Entertainment and Valiant Comics, including the “Planet Hulk” and “World War Hulk” storylines. Van Lente is a #1 New York Times best-selling author, having written the Marvel Zombies line of books, Incredible Hercules (with Pak), and the original graphic novel Cowboys & Aliens, which was the basis for the motion picture.
Their insights into the comic book business are invaluable. The pair begin by crafting the idea of a comic book, showing the reader how to properly format and script the comic book, and how to work with artists on bringing their vision to life on the page. They then take the process even farther by explaining how to pitch your comic book and break into the comic book medium.
The only drawback to the book is the lack of any art from the more popular DC or Marvel comics the pair have worked on. Instead they use images from Valiant titles and an original tale crafted from beginning to end specifically for this book.
But overall, the book details a fascinating process that is guaranteed to hold your interest, whether you are a writer, artist or just a reader wanting to learn more about the medium.
Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.