How to make a comic book
It happened every Saturday afternoon.
The school was over for the week and I had 2 sweet days of freedom. But before the weekend began, I HAD to get the weekly issue of “ΚΟΜΙΞ”.
I’d go to the newsstand right next to my house and try to spot its red cover.
I’d pay with the 3.50 EUROS I’ve asked for my parents, grab ice-cream or potato chips and run back to my room, ready to dive into the new adventures and laugh all the way till the end!
In Greece, we weren’t big on Superman and Batman until very recently.
We were raised reading Donald Duck, Asterix, Lucky Luke, Mickey Mouse, etc.
The magazine I’m talking about was published by a small, independent house ran by people passionate about the art of writing comic books. They were focused on delivering stories about Scrooge McDuck, Donald Duck and his nephews.
But what made me a collector (I have *almost* every single issue), was the first 5 pages.
In these pages, the editors would break down the process behind each story, provide commentary by the authors themselves, and nudge the reader to dive deeper into the intricacies of comic books.
What is a comic book?
“… a publication that consists of comics art in the form of sequential juxtaposed panels that represent individual scenes. Panels are often accompanied by descriptive prose and written narrative, usually, dialogue contained in word balloons emblematic of the comics art form.’
I think pretty much everyone is familiar with comic books.
We all remember the distinctive dialogue in bubbles, the over-the-top (yet, surprisingly enjoyable) stories, the eccentric humor, and the LARGE FONT NONSENSICAL PHRASES:
… written across the page!
Now, in 2021, between big-budget Hollywood movies and the super popular “anime” shows, there’s resurgent interest.
But comics books have been around for a long time — going back to the 18 century.
The “Golden Age” though took place in the 1940s an1950s, introducing many well-known characters including Superman, Batman, Captain America, etc.
Personally, I believe that what made this genre so powerful was the shift from the superhero archetype to other more realistic narratives.
It’s the reason adults can now enjoy a comic book.
How can you read a comic book (even if you’re an adult!)
It’s obvious that what started as children’s stories, soon became mature scripts, containing real-life lessons, gritty themes, and complex characters.
The story of the simplistic superhero who chases the bad guys and saves the city is evolved to multi-dimensional protagonists, grappling with morality and existentialism, blurring the line between good and evil.
It’s only natural, given that the kids who enjoyed and wrote comic books became adults with real-life experience.
The medium allowed them to not only express their creativity but also provide serious commentary about society as a whole, unbound by the limitation of more traditional/mainstream outlets.
See, the fact that the characters are lines on a paper grants you the liberty to push the envelope as much as you want
We’ve seen this phenomenon play out with Adult Swim shows and “SouthPark”, where the writing would be highly offensive if it wasn’t a “cartoon”. But now it’s just funny!
Comic books are even more powerful in that regard since the prose can be more complex and extend beyond satire. Combine that with the unapologetic, aesthetic value many of them possess and you have true, unfiltered art!
If you still believe comic books are just for children, I invite you to take a look at the following list of some of my favorite comic books.
8 Comic Books and Graphic Novels to Read in 2021 as an adult
Even if you’ve never read a comic book, these 10 options are a great introduction to this unique form of art.
This cornerstone graphic novel changed the way we perceive the genre.
Placed in an alternative reality, where the existence of superheroes has changed the course of history, Allan Moore unfolds a massive conspiracy theory that could jeopardize the future of humanity.
The ability of the writer to instil raw realism in fiction is uncanny.
We continue to follow the pen of Moore and his cultural hero “V”.
A political thriller that explores the concept of individuality in a world where freedom is limited.
But make no mistake, even though the subject is heavy, the delivery if nothing short of exciting!
A dark and gritty comic book series that encapsulates the “other” side of every big city.
What makes this graphic novel so unique is the setting. The city comes alive as you keep reading.
You get to walk every dimly lit alley and every notorious bar in town.
In Sin city, the city is the enemy.
Considered a masterpiece, this graphic novel defined the genre of dark fantasy in the world of comic books.
A truly immersive universe awaits the reader, where reality, mythology, and fiction blend together to create an intoxicating world.
But I have to warn you, you’ll either love it or hate it. There are no lukewarm feelings when it comes to Gaiman’s magnum opus,
This particular comic book series is a manga (“… comics or graphic novels created in Japan…”). It’s one of the most popular and controversial ones.
I don’t want to spoil the plot but answer me this question:
If you had a book where every time you wrote someone’s name, they died… what would you do with it?
Morality, existentialism, and nihilism are a few of the concepts this graphic novel explores.
A hidden, comic book gem by one of the greatest, in my opinion, writers AND artists.
Do you want comedy, mixed with history, and real-life struggles?
Scrooge McDuck makes the hero’s journey, from a broke “little duck” to a business tycoon.
So if one day you want to worth “one multiplujillion, nine obsquatumatillion, six hundred twenty-three dollars, and sixty-two cents”, you better read his autobiography!
A “classic” detective story, enhanced by the stunning illustrations of Juanjo Guarnido.The plot, the atmosphere, the quirky characters. It’s truly breathtaking.
It has all the necessary ingredients that form a dark thriller.
One death. One private detective. One true love.
Oh, did I forget to mention that the protagonist is a cat?
The first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize, “Maus” is an autobiography, a memoir, a history book, filled with realism and fiction.
The story takes place during one of the most tragic periods in the history of humanity, the holocaust.
But instead of humans, the book is about mice, cats, and pigs. This postmodern technique allows the reader to look at the events that stigmatized the 20th century from a new perspective.
How to make a comic book?
I think we pretty much covered all the different aspects that make this medium so unique.
But how do you actually make a comic book?
As you can tell, it requires a lot of different skills.
The basics are writing, storytelling, design, sketching, etc.
But when you have to combine all of these, things get even more complicated.
You have to:
- Create unique themes and aesthetics
- Define the underlying narrative and maintain visual consistency.
There’s no one recipe to make a comic book but these are some of the things you need to look out for.
You can always join forces with other talented people and create a project together!
The Saga continues…
In September 2013, after 25 years and 303 issues, the “Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold” is the last story to be printed by “ΚΟΜΙΞ”.
I was in college at that time. I opened page 5 and read the epilogue by one of the editors.
So many memories and childhood dreams came rushing back.
There’s an elegant bond between the reader and the characters of comics books.
The fact that you can see them and their world, makes for a stronger connection.
When you read a novel, everything happens in your mind essentially. But when you’re reading a graphic novel, the world is there in pure ink. You can touch it.
I believe these comic books can enhance the TBR list of every bibliophile and inspire them to explore their creative side in order to make their own series!
So, grab your pencils or your digital pens and get cracking! We’re looking forward to seeing your creations!
P.S- BAAAAAAAAANG! If you were a superhero, what would your power be? Comment below!