Sunday, July 21, 2013

Review: STAN LEE'S How to Draw Superheroes

WATSON-GUPTILL PUBLICATIONS/Dynamite Entertainment – @CrownPublishing and @dynamitecomics

WRITERS: Stan Lee with Danny Fingeroth, Keith Dallas, and Robert Sodaro
COVER:  Ardian Syaf; back cover by Alex Ross
ISBN: 978-0-8230-9845-3; paperback (July 9, 2013)
224pp, Color, $24.99 U.S., $28.99 CAN

Excelsior!  Stan Lee’s back!  And he is here to teach us about comic books – this time focusing on superheroes.  That is the case in the recently released Stan Lee’s How to Draw Superheroes.

This paperback book is the third in a series “how-to” books published under Stan Lee’s name by Watson-Guptill Publications (a division of the Crown Publishing Group).  Under a cover by Ardian Syaf, this 2013 book is co-written by Danny Fingeroth, Keith Dallas, and Robert Sodaro.  Stan Lee’s How to Draw Superheroes is a follow-up to Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics and Stan Lee’s How to Write Comics.

The stated purpose of Stan Lee’s How to Draw Superheroes is to give aspiring superhero creators information on just about everything related to the comic book superhero genre: from sidekicks and secret hideouts to super-villains and monsters.  The book also has 24 step-by-step exercises designed to help readers learn how to draw a variety of superhero types – from poses and powers to secret identities and secret bases.

I did not have to peruse through too many chapters of Stan Lee’s How to Draw Superheroes before I began to think that the book was about superheroes as much as it was a “how-to” art book, if not more so.  There are 13 chapters in this book, and all of them are basically written surveys of superheroes, costumed heroes, and super-powered humans and heroes, from Gilgamesh all the way to the new superheroes being introduced by Dynamite Entertainment.

With chapters devoted to “Sidekicks and Teen Heroes” and “Robots, Androids, and Cyborgs,” Stan Lee’s How to Draw Superheroes is a broad overview of the elements that make up and the ideas that shape and structure superhero comic books.  This book can either be a refresher course for those familiar with superheroes or a guide for those unfamiliar who want to enter the unique world of reading that is American superhero comic books.

As a book about superheroes, Stan Lee’s How to Draw Superheroes is good.  As a how-to art book:  well, there are better, and that includes Lee’s own How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way (1978), produced with the late John Buscema.  In fact, the earlier Watson-Guptill book, Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics, offers more about drawing theory and procedure than Stan Lee’s How to Draw Superheroes.  So buy this book for what it is (about superheroes) and not for what it is advertised as (a how to draw book).


Contributing artists:  Vinicius Andrande, Javier Aranda, Mark Bagley, Ed Benes, John Byrne, Tim Bradstreet, John Buscema, J. Scott Campbell, Jim Cheung, Chris Caniano, Will Eisner, David Enebral, Francesco Francavilla, Ale Garza, Phil Hester, Joe Jusco, Jack Kirby, Jim Lee, Adriano Lucas, Steve McNiven, Frank Miller, Ivan Nunes, Lucio Parillo, Paul Renaud, John Romita, Jr., Alex Ross, Tim Seeley, Joe Shuster

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