Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review: Stan Lee's How to Draw Comics


WRITERS: Stan Lee with David Campiti
COVER: John Romita with Dean White (limited edition cover: Francesco Francavilla)
ISBN: 978-0-8230-0083-8; paperback
224pp, Color, $24.99 U.S., $27.99 CAN

He was born Stanley Martin Lieber in 1922, but the world of arts and entertainment knows him as Stan Lee. For Marvel Comics, Lee has been a writer, editor, and publisher and has been associated with Marvel Comics since 1939 when it was Timely Comics.

Collaborating with artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Lee created such characters as Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and the Hulk, among many others. In addition to writing comic books, Lee has also authored several books. Perhaps, Lee’s best known non-comic book, book is How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way (1978), which he co-authored with the late artist, John Buscema.

Stan Lee’s latest how-to book is Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics. Co-written with David Campiti, Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics is essentially an update of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, but with less emphasis on “the Marvel Way.” In his introduction, Stan writes that it was time for a new book, one with “a cornucopia of cutting-edge, techno-savvy instructions.”

I have a copy of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, one through which I’ve thumbed countless times, and the difference between the 1978 book and this one is jarring. Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics is, for one thing, bigger, and there is much information on digital lettering and computer coloring. How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way is essentially analog, but obviously that’s because computers weren’t being used to produce comic book art and graphics when it was written. Campiti’s hand is all over the sections on computers and digital processes to create comics because he runs Glasshouse Graphics, a company that provides everything from story and art to pre-press and custom publishing for comic book publishers and other clients.

Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics provides a broad overview of creating visuals for comic books. There are sections on penciling, inking and coloring; lettering and word balloons. Readers can learn about creating costumes; what makes great action; perspective and foreshortening; page and panel layout; and how to create visually appealing covers. There is information on digital advances, creating a portfolio, and getting work in the industry.

Not to dismiss the earlier book, Stan Lee’s How to Write Comics, but Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics is a complete book offering both theory and procedure. A budding comic book creator can get tips on penciling, inking, coloring, and lettering a comic book using both new and traditional methods, and he or she can examine numerous black and white diagrams that illustrate the basics of creating comic book graphics. Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics is a text book because it explains the why’s and how’s, often using the advise and expertise of industry professionals. There is even a section on using Google Sketchup to create skyscrapers, buildings, and other exterior landscapes.

There is apparently a limited edition of Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics. I don’t know whether or not it’s a hardcover, but this paperback edition is the one to get if you have an eye on becoming a professional comic book artist. The paperback is made to be handled a lot.


Neal Adams, Erica Awano
Dan Borgones, Nick Bradshaw, Ariel Burgess
Aaron Campbell, J. Scott Campbell, Chris Caniano, Eman Casallos, John Cassaday, Frank Cho, Vince Colletta
Bong Dazo, Mike Deodato, Jr., Steve Ditko
Tina Francisco
Ken Haeser, Tabitha Haeser
Bob Kane, Gil Kane, Michael Kelleher, Jack Kirby
Fabio Laguna, Jonathan Lau, Jae Lee, Jim Lee, Jun Lofamia
Gemma Magno, Jezreel Morales
Earl Norem,
Ariel Padilla
Cliff Richards, Al Rio John Romita, Alex Ross, Mel Rubi
Steve Sadowski, Gaspar Saladino, Edgar Salazar, Mel Joy San Juan, Alexander Sicat, Joe Sinnott
Anthony Tan, Wilson Tortosa, Michael Turner

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