BearSleuth Opinion Piece: 5 Books you Should be Reading if you Want to Write Graphic Novels

Writing for Graphic Novels is a big business that a lot of writers want to break into. It’s very competitive to get one of the few higher paying jobs in the industry and even getting noticed can be a problem for a lot of writers without artistic talent. I cannot guarantee that this set of books will help you ascend to ladder to Comic Book Writing Stardom, but it will help you avoid a lot of big errors and help you to sound like you know what you’re talking about:

Number 5: Supergods: Our World In The Age of The Superhero by Grant Morrison


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Picture Source: https://cityoftongues.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/9780224089968.jpg [Accessed 9/06/2015]

This is my least favourite book on this list simply because it gets very dry at points. The entire book comes in at around four hundred pages, but do not let that dissuade you from reading it. Morrison has charted the entire history of super heroes right back to origins of Superman and going forward almost to the present day. This is a must for anyone considering writing in the super hero genre but it’s pretty helpful to learn about the industry and some of the theories to why superheroes are so successful for any graphic novel writer.

Number 4: Sequential Art by Will Eisner


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Picture Source: http://images.cdn.bigcartel.com/bigcartel/product_images/127730052/max_h-1000+max_w-1000/comics-sequential-art-cover.jpg [Accessed 9/06/2015]

This guy was the godfather of sequential art study, not that there was much challenge for the title. Eisner had such an influence on the industry that the highest award you can get as a comic book writer or artist is an Eisner award. Why? Because he looked at the genre and pointed out that it was a new media form with different rules to anything anyone had ever written in before. I could talk passionately about this book for more than a thousand words, but I won’t. This teaches you the basics and every other book I recommend uses this as a jumping off point. Get the updated version now and read it.

Number 3: Panel One: Comic Book Scripts by Top Writers


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Picture source: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/519hX8phm8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg [Accessed 9/06/2015]

The challenge with this one is finding a copy. Unfortunately it’s almost impossible to buy it new and the supply is extremely limited. However, a second hand copy might be obtained through Amazon or Ebay for the right price. I was able to get hold of a copy through my local library which is another possibility. The thing is, as a writer you tend to study comic books but it isn’t actually comic books that you are writing, it’s comic book scripts, and that is a huge distinction. Panel One gives you the best idea of what a good script looks like as well as the many different styles of approach different writers take to the genre. It’s a must for anyone looking to write for the medium but I would also recommend it to any script writer.

Number 2: Words for Pictures by Brian Michael Bendis


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Picture Source: http://www.universohq.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/bendis_words-for_pictures.jpg [Accessed 9/06/2015]

Bendis is considered by many to be at the peak of his comic book career. He has made the progression most comic book writer’s make from fan boy to indie writer to writing for one of the major publishing houses. The guy is a legend. The thing that really helps about this book is that it is current, most of the other books I’m recommending are dated in one way or another and so lack in certain areas but Bendis is working for Marvel comics right now as you are reading this article. He teaches at the University of Oregon so he knows what up and coming writers are like and what they need to be told. This would be the number one book for graphic novel writers if it wasn’t for…

Number 1: Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud


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Picture Source: http://www.theaveragegamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Understanding-Comics-Scott-McCloud.jpg [Accessed 9/06/2015]

This is it, the one you need to go out and buy right now. Understanding comics is the bible of profession and almost every single writer I have talked to or heard talk about comic books ends up mentioning it. The reason this book is separate from the rest of the pack is simple, it’s not a book but a comic book. It is, to my mind, the only non-fiction non-narrative graphic novel to my mind and it is perfect. Because the entire book is a graphic novel it allows McCloud to be able to demonstrate his point as he makes it. The book is clear and easy to read. I recommend it to anyone and everyone.

So this is my handy list of Books (and maybe one comic book) that you should be reading if you want to write graphic novels but it doesn’t stop there check back on Thursday for the 5 graphic novels that will inspire you to write your own.

One thought on “BearSleuth Opinion Piece: 5 Books you Should be Reading if you Want to Write Graphic Novels

  1. Pingback: 5 Graphic Novels That Will Inspire You to Write Comic Books | The bear sleuth

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