Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud has gotten a lot of praise over the years, and it’s justified. It’s well presented, and it has some genuine insight into how art works (not just comics) and how people communicate. And even when you don’t agree with the points he makes, the book itself is an excellent example of how to make a presentation and of what comics can do.
Making Comics is even better. This is just a great, great book.
Everything about it — from the art to the tone to the organization — is cleaner, more sophisticated, more direct and uncluttered. It’s like attending one of the best, most insightful presentations you’ve ever been to, with a speaker who can make his head pop off his body and change shape.
He covers the insights into art and communication that have been his trademark since Understanding Comics, but never condescends, never seems removed or too “old-school” to be irrelevant, and grounds everything in the practical. McCloud covers all the topics from staging and framing to facial anatomy to perspective to buying art supplies, always showing you what others are doing while reminding you there’s no one right way to do any of it. You’re not just encouraged to make your own comics, you’re inspired to.
Because it’s such a practical book, it might not find as wide an audience as Understanding Comics did. That’d be a shame, because it’s a great read even if you don’t plan on making comics yourself. (And I think after reading it, it’d be hard not to want to make them yourself). It doesn’t come across as a lecture or a textbook or even a book, for that matter, but as a conversation with someone who just loves comics and wants to share them with everyone.