Stan Lee's How to Draw Comics book review
By Leroy Douresseaux
July 9, 2012 - 15:16

Watson-Guptill Publications
Writer(s): Stan Lee, David Campiti
Cover Artist(s): John Romita, Dean White
$24.99 US, $27.99 CAN, 224pp, Color, paperback

Stan Lee's How to Draw Comics cover image

Stan Lee was a writer, editor, and publisher (and even a hype man) over his long tenure at Marvel Comics.  Collaborating with artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Lee created such characters as Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and the Hulk, among many others.  In addition to writing comic books, Lee has also authored several books.  Perhaps, Lee’s best known non-comic book, book is How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way (1978), which he co-authored with the late artist, John Buscema.

Stan Lee’s latest how-to book is Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics.  Co-written with David CampitiStan Lee’s How to Draw Comics is essentially an update of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, but with less emphasis on “the Marvel Way.”  In his introduction, Stan writes that it was time for a new book, one with “a cornucopia of cutting-edge, techno-savvy instructions.”

I have a copy of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, one through which I’ve thumbed countless times, and the difference between the 1978 book and this one is jarring.  Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics is, for one thing, bigger, and there is much information on digital lettering and computer coloring.  How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way is essentially analog, but obviously that’s because computers weren’t being used to produce comic book art and graphics when it was written.  Campiti’s hand is all over the sections on computers and digital processes to create comics because he runs Glasshouse Graphics, a company that provides everything from story and art to pre-press and custom publishing for comic book publishers and other clients.

Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics provides a broad overview of creating visuals for comic books.  There are sections on penciling, inking and coloring; lettering and word balloons.  Readers can learn about creating costumes; what makes great action; perspective and foreshortening; page and panel layout; and how to create visually appealing covers.  There is information on digital advances, creating a portfolio, and getting work in the industry.

Not to dismiss the earlier book, Stan Lee’s How to Write Comics, but Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics is a complete book offering both theory and procedure.  A budding comic book creator can get tips on penciling, inking, coloring, and lettering a comic book using both new and traditional methods, and he or she can examine numerous black and white diagrams that illustrate the basics of creating comic book graphics.  Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics is a text book because it explains the why’s and how’s, often using the advise and expertise of industry professionals.  There is even a section on using Google Sketchup to create skyscrapers, buildings, and other exterior landscapes.

There is apparently a limited edition of Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics.  I don’t know whether or not it’s a hardcover, but this paperback edition is the one to get if you have an eye on becoming a professional comic book artist.  The paperback is made to be handled a lot.


Rating: 8/10

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