When I met Andy Diggle at a Singapore comic convention, he echoed the oft-heard creator advice that the best way to learn how to make comics is to just dive in and do it. I had taken that leap when I began making Satanic Hell, and true to the adage, I learned a ton about the process and I’m still learning. Having said that, if I could enter a TARDIS right now and go back in time and hand over my Kindle to myself with the following two books on it, I would do it faster than you can say Raxacoricofallapatorius (and not just for the TARDIS ride). But even though Satanic Hell is finished and being released on Alterna Comics, these books are still an incredibly timely and useful read for me. I feel I learned just as much reading these books as I did working on the whole seven-issue series. Everyone from beginners to experienced creators can benefit from them. Keep these books handy, you’ll being going back to them frequently. And get ready to take lots of notes when you crack ’em open. As for the quality, don’t just take my recommendation – see the stellar reviews these two books get on Amazon.
Write or Wrong: A Writers Guide to Creating Comics
by Dirk Manning
$9.99 on Kindle (no Kindle, no problem)
Dirk Manning is the genius writer behind Nightmare World and Tales of Mr. Rhee, both of which I recommend you check out if you haven’t. Manning was one of the first creators to start posting their comic pages on line back in 2001 with his Cthulhu-infused short-story comic series Nightmare World. That series was later picked up by Image, and the Nightmare World spin-off, Tales of Mr. Rhee, now continues that saga on Devil’s Due. This book collects the best of his wisdom from his making comics column on Newsarama as he pulls examples from his journey from being an unknown writer with a dream of making comics to becoming the successful indie name he is today. The book is from a writer’s perspective, but all creator types can get something out of it. Manning uses a fun and conversational voice to cover the whole process a writer needs – from getting started and writing your script, finding artists, how to work with them, building audience, reaching out to publishers, you name it. One of my favorite things about the book is how Manning shows the importance of prioritizing finances and time in order to be a successful creator. After finishing this book, I was pumped and ready to just focus on creating comics forever. The rest of my life be damned. You can follow Manning’s mausolean musings @DirkManning.
Comic Book Marketing 101
by Matt Nastos
$3.99 on Kindle
The whole idea of marketing your comic book can be turn-off. Just the name “comic book marketing” can bring to mind gimmicky tie-ins, constant “deaths” of main heroes, endless variant covers, and recycled plots that are “proven” sellers. If that’s your concern, don’t worry. This is not that book. Whether you just want to make solid, intriguing comics that people enjoy or aim to be the next Stan Lee, this book is a must-read. Unless you’re making a comic only for yourself, the book you’re working on is going to need readers. Artist-writer Matt Nastos gives you the no-nonsense knowledge on how to help people who may want to read your comic actually learn of its existence, and he uses real examples (much to the chagrin of some indie publishers). This includes defining your audience, creating your outreach plan, basic SEO, expanding your readership, and more. For me, the big takeaway was to orient my mind in the proper direction in regards to gaining exposure for my work. Regardless of how much energy you want to put into letting people know about your comic, there’s greats tips in here for all. And for the decent price of $3.99 that’s certainly worth it. You can also check out his articles that formed the basis of the book at MattNastos.com. At the very least, follow Matt’s comic publishing insights @NiftyMat.
There are certainly other good books out there on making comics, including ones that go deeper into specific areas like script writing, drawing, and more. Share the books on creating comics that you think rock in the comments.