Saturday, January 17, 2015

Book Review: Comics and Sequential Art

Ever since I started delving in to the how-to of making comics, I've heard a lot about Will Eisner and the Eisner Award.

So when I saw a copy of his Comics and Sequential Art at Merlyn's, I snatched it off the shelf without hesitating.

Originally published in 1985, and adapted from his course while at New York's School of Visual Arts, this instruction book from a comics master is now nearing it's 30th printing.

Comics and Sequential Art, is not a book on how to draw and letter.  Instead it is a "...treatise on the theory and mechanics of modern comics" (page ix).  But this is a theoretical book packed with practical application regarding:  Imagery, timing, framing, expressive anatomy (a new term I learned!); along with writing and applying the use of sequential art, as well as comics as a form of reading.

Plus the book is packed with examples of Eisner's lively art and stories.

I can see why there's an award named after him.

This landmark comic artist's guide is available on and is the first of a trilogy, which consists of the subsequent works:

Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative (which I'm currently reading), and Expressive Anatomy for Comics and Narrative (which I don't own, but plan to order).

This latest edition of Comics and Sequential Art, which includes some material on webcomics, was published in 2008 and has earned an average 4.5-star rating:  Out of 31 reviewers, 26 felt this was an amazing book (23 x 5-stars and 3 x 4-star ratings). 

Four reviewers liked the book, giving it 3-star rating.  Two of these reviewers felt this book was "...more for professionals..." or for "...hardcore students of the art.."

These comments are true.  Comics and Sequential Art, is not for the casual reader of comics, but for those who want understand the key components in creating effective artwork.  But having said that, I think even a causal comics reader would enjoy Eisner's stories and artwork if he skipped the instructional narrative.

Meanwhile, the lone 2-star rater thought the book was "...sloppy and self-congratulatory."

I didn't notice any sloppiness in either the writing or the artwork.  And as for being self-congratulatory; well, the material is based on Will Eisner's own teachings.

So I'll give this teacher an A+, in the form of a 5-star rating.

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