I read comics. So should you.

Get Good (art edition): Part 3

In art on January 23, 2017 at 10:38 pm

Welcome back to what has now become a three-part series on some of the best informational tools for the aspiring comic book artist. This week I want to touch on a few more books that I have found to be enormously useful, as well as what is without a doubt the best resource of all (if you can afford the time and money involved): schools. So let’s dive right in, shall we?

Drawing Words and Writing Pictures by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden


This is the definitive comics textbook. It’s structured in fifteen lessons, complete with homework assignments, extra credit sections, and even a companion website. It’s beautifully illustrated, easy to follow, and is thoroughly comprehensive to the point where it demonstrates proper use of tools and even stretches to do when taking breaks! I cannot recommend it enough. And when you’ve made it through this, it’s time to move on to Mastering Comics, which builds on those lessons and strives to elevate you to full-blown cartoonist status.

Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist by Stephen Rogers Peck


This will always be my favorite anatomy book, which I realize is a strange thing to declare. You get the human body, from skeleton to musculature to gender and race distinctions. You get it all in detail that will make your head spin, both as photo and illustrative reference.

Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur L. Guptill


It’s all here: tools, tone, shading, composition, and more. I know you crazy kids are all about the tablets these days, but if old school pen nibs and brushes is your jam, this is your new bible. As an added bonus, you get introduced to a gallery of insanely talented illustrators, designers, and architectural renderers. You will feel lazy and insignificant when gazing upon their work, so prepare yourself.

Schools. You just can’t beat what good schools offer you: hands-on instruction, an environment full of your peers, and challenges that will hopefully help you find your voice before you have to go out there and hack it in the real world as a professional. I’m envious of anyone who gets the opportunity, since I never made it there myself, and I’ve always wanted the experience. I have, however, done a bit of research and even visited a few places, and these are the ones that I think are worth going into crippling debt for.

The Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art-Dover, NJ


Founded by one of the legends in the business, this school provides an intensive three-year program designed to produce professional cartoonists. The list of alumni and alumnae that have gone on to graphic greatness after attending this institution is beyond impressive. This is the place where the big publishers come to hire new talent, and the instructors are going to make you and that drawing table spend enough time together to ensure that you’re one of the lucky ones whose work appears on shop shelves every Wednesday. For more info, click here.

The Center For Cartoon Studies-White River Junction, VT


Another school with a central focus on graphic illustration and design, with a faculty that’s a who’s who of indie creators and industry heavyweights, the CCS offers a one-year and a two-year program that provide students with the background and skill set which will set them on the path to being working professionals. The school also has the one-of-a-kind Schulz library, full of comics, instructional books, and rare Peanuts collections! For more info, click here.

So there it is. A jumping-off point for my fellow doodling dreamers and ink-smudged storytellers. I want to give the writing side of comics creation the same treatment in a future series of posts, but next week I have a feeling that I’ll be switching gears a little. Until then, keep at it. As much as you can. I’ll promise to do the same.


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