Book Recs for Aspiring Comic Creators

Interested in making comics? For my latest list, I wanted to put together some recommendations on a few different aspects of the comics industry. These books can help you on your path, teach you about the industry, and hopefully keep you healthy physically and mentally as you navigate your way through.

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

Comics can be hard to figure out because there are no real universal standards for making them. Things are different depending on the publisher, market, audience, etc. which can be overwhelming. Understanding Comics is the closest thing that we have to a bible for the industry. It goes through the ins and outs of making comics; all in comic format! It’s a must-read for anyone interested in pursuing them or who is interested in learning more.

Here is the official synopsis: “Praised throughout the cartoon industry by such luminaries as Art Spiegelman, Matt Groening, and Will Eisner, Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics is a seminal examination of comics art: its rich history, surprising technical components, and major cultural significance. Explore the secret world between the panels, through the lines, and within the hidden symbols of a powerful but misunderstood art form.”


Words for Pictures by Brian Michael Bendis

Brian Michael Bendis is one of our modern greats when it comes to comic book writing. In his book Words for Pictures, he explores both the art side of the industry as well as the business side of things. You can’t really go wrong with taking advice from a man who really knows his stuff so this is definitely worth checking out.

Here is the official synopsis: “One of the most popular writers in modern comics, Brian Michael Bendis reveals the tools and techniques he and other top creators use to create some of the most popular comic book and graphic novel stories of all time. Words for Pictures shows readers the creative methods of a writer at the very top of his field. Bendis guides aspiring creators through each step of the comics-making process–from idea to script to finished sequential art–for fan favorite comics like The AvengersUltimate Spider-ManUncanny X-Men, and more. Along the way, tips and insights from other working writers, artists, and editors provide a rare, extensive look behind the creative curtain of the comics industry. With script samples, a glossary of must-know business terms for writers, and interactive comics-writing exercises, Words for Pictures provides the complete toolbox needed to jump start the next comics-writing success story.”


Essential Guide to Comic Book Lettering by Nate Piekos

Okay so technically speaking I can’t fully recommend this book since I have yet to read it myself (only because it’s not out just yet) but I can say with a lot of confidence that it’s going to be fantastic. Nate Piekos knows his stuff, especially when it comes to lettering! And as one of the most underappreciated jobs in comics, we should all strive to do our parts to understand just how incredible an art form it is.

Here is the official synopsis: “Award-winning comic book letterer, and founder of, Nate Piekos, provides you with the most in-depth tips and techniques ever published on the subject of digital comic book lettering . . . from creating your own lettering templates, emotive dialogue, and dynamic sound effects . . . to developing design skills and building a lettering career in the comic industry.”


Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels by Scott McCloud

This is technically the third book in McCloud’s series (I’ve completely skipped over Reinventing Comics) but I think it’s the other one that you can get a lot out of. Realistically, if you have to choose one between this and Understanding Comics, I’d choose the latter but if you can have both, why not go for it?! Like I said in the previous post, McCloud knows what he’s talking about and has created the “unofficial” bible for the industry. Trust that he’ll steer you in the right direction and give you great information that will help you in the longrun.

Here is the official synopsis: “Scott McCloud tore down the wall between high and low culture in 1993 with Understanding Comics, a massive comic book about comics, linking the medium to such diverse fields as media theory, movie criticism, and web design. In Reinventing Comics, McCloud took this to the next level, charting twelve different revolutions in how comics are generated, read, and perceived today. Now, in Making Comics, McCloud focuses his analysis on the art form itself, exploring the creation of comics, from the broadest principles to the sharpest details (like how to accentuate a character’s facial muscles in order to form the emotion of disgust rather than the emotion of surprise.) And he does all of it in his inimitable voice and through his cartoon stand-in narrator, mixing dry humor and legitimate instruction. McCloud shows his reader how to master the human condition through word and image in a brilliantly minimalistic way. Both comic book devotees and the uninitiated will marvel at this journey into a once-underappreciated art form.”


Draw Stronger by Kriota Willberg

While this book isn’t strictly about the comics industry per se, it’s really important regardless. Creatives tend to overwork themselves as they try to break into and continue to work within the industry. When we’re young, it’s easy to wave off pains and sprains and bounce back quickly. But as you get older, it’s harder to ignore how we treat our bodies. This book gives you exercises to incorporate into your daily routine to keep you in peak condition throughout your artistic career.

Here is the official synopsis: “Finally, Draw Stronger is here You’re a cartoonist. You take care of yourself to prevent drawing injuries. You do your stretches, take regular breaks, and draw with perfect posture. What happens? You start experiencing pain when you draw anyway A perfect example of bad things happening to good people. What should you do? Go to the doctor if it’s serious. But, if it’s a minor injury, go to your bookshelf and start reading Draw Stronger. This little tome can be used to help reduce discomfort until you see a healthcare professional, or it can provide guidelines for managing mild drawing injuries that don’t require medical attention. Explore Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation Therapy (R.I.C.E. Therapy) from the perspective of a committed drawer, learn some tips for understanding your pain, avoid worsening your injuries, and more.”

If buying the book (see link below) isn’t in the cards for you, not to worry! Kriota Willberg has a series available for free over on The Comics Beat website. You can check out all the posts here.


Dynamic Light and Shade by Burne Hogarth

There are lots of books out there on art, creating characters (like in the next post) and more but one of the most important aspects to that is understanding light. This book will help you process and master it for your own art!

Here is the official synopsis: “Mastery of light and shade – rendered with accuracy and expressive power – is the key to three-dimensional form in drawing and painting. Here is the first book on this essential subject, the product of years of study by one of the world’s great teachers of drawing and an artist of international renown, Burne Hogarth.”


Creating Characters for the Entertainment Industry by 3dtotal

I’m a writer and editor that likes to dabble in doodling from time to time. And the art books put out by 3dtotal Publishing are some of my faves to utilize! They break things down in a way that makes it easy for me (someone with ADHD and a lack of confidence when it comes to art) to process. Plus I love the style of the art and the advice that they give. I’ve been pining after this specific book for ages and the other one that I use from them is called Creating Stylized Characters which has been wonderful for me! Highly recommend them.

Here is the official synopsis: “Creating Professional Characters: Develop Spectacular Designs from Basic Concepts is an inspiring and informative exploration of how popular professional character designers take the basic concept of a character in a production brief and develop these ideas into an original, high-quality design. Suitable for student and professional character designers alike, this book focuses on how to approach your character designs in ways that ensure the target audience and production needs are met while still creating fun, imaginative characters. This visually appealing book includes twenty thorough tutorials guiding you through the design and decision making processes used to create awesome characters. Replicating the processes used in professional practice today, this book demonstrates the types of brief a professional designer might receive, the iterative design process used to explore the brief, the influence of production feedback on the final design, and how final designs are presented to clients. This detailed, enlightening book is an excellent guide to creating incredible imaginative characters suitable for your future professional projects.”


You can see the entire list over on and pick up the ones that might help you out while also supporting indie bookstores.

What are some of your favourite books and resources for learning about comics and writing? Leave your recs below in the comments!