"How to Draw Comics the ""Marvel"" Way - Stan Lee"
How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and Steve Buscema ---- This book was thought up by the two authors, namely the founder of marvel comics Stan lee and the artist Steve Buscema in 1977. It was published in the United States of America in 1978 and in the United Kingdom in 1986 by Titan books. In ... 1981 at the age of fourteen, I was already into comics but my father came through the door one night and said 'Have I found a shop for you'. The next day he took me to Birmingham and led me to 'Nostalgia and Comics', which is still there today. I was in awe and went back many times in the following years and became a serious collector. In my late twenties I lost most of my collection of over 4,000 comics through a messy divorce but I still collect daredevil comics today.
The reason I mention all this is because at the age of nineteen I saw this book and was always curious about it. At school all I ever did in art was draw superheroes. That stopped when I was sixteen and I would not pick up a pencil again until I was forty. So it was at the age of forty that I came across this book again in a comic shop in Amsterdam. I purchased it immediately. After looking through it, it became apparent at that early stage that this could well be the best book about drawing comic characters ever published.
What is inside?
The book starts, as you would expect, with an introduction from the great man himself, Stan lee.There is a dedication before the introduction, which reads....'Dedicated to every wide-eyed guy or gal who has ever held a pencil, pen or crayon and dreamed of telling fantastic stories through pictures; to everyone who's ever thrilled to the sight of a dazzling drawing and longed to be able to copy it, or better still, to create an original. In short to everyone and anyone who's ever wanted to be - a comic book artist! You're our kind of people. We know just how you feel. You see, we've been there ourselves!'
The preface by Stan Lee is dated as 1977 and, as you would expect, is loaded with enthusiasm. He tells us that he had always planned to write the definitive book on how to draw comics and essentially in the Marvel way. His problem was that, so far, other things had gotten in the way. Once John Buscema had told him that he was teaching drawing classes in 1975, the idea had burned a constant flame within him. Stan visited one of John's workshops and was blown away by the content of the course. John was one of the leading comic artists at the time and with his knowledge of the art and the ability to be able to actually demonstrate it made Stan Lee take notice. One other benefit was the fact that Stan and John were good friends, having worked together at Marvel comics for a number of years.Stan told John that he thought it was a crying shame that only a handful of students got to see his work and benefit from his teachings and asked John to illustrate a book if Stan did the writing. That is how this book came about and what a fine job they did with it.For the purpose of this review I will refer to myself and you as the reader as 'We' as if we are taking a look at the book together.
Chapter One - The Tools-and the Talk of the Trade!
This chapter outlines everything you will need to draw comics and comic characters.
It runs through the different types of pencil you can use to sketch out your initial drawing and then the ink pens and brushes to ink over it. It advises a thin point ink pen for detail and a number three sable brush for inking larger areas. Indian ink is the best ink to use and some white opaquing ink for covering up mistakes, which is essential. A simple glass jar with water for cleaning brushes is also recommended.
A triangle or angled square or ruler can be used for drawing perspective and a tee-square. Push pins can be used to keep your drawing on the board. I myself use magic tape, which holds it down and peels off without ripping the paper. It also ensures that there are no pin holes left in the paper.
As for the surface to draw on, at Marvel they use, or did at the time of writing the book, 2-ply Bristol board, which measured 10'' x 15''and a drawing board or table.
An ink compass is advised for circles and Stan also advises us to get a normal pencil compass as well and jokes that Johnny forgot to draw one for illustration purposes.
You will also need a clean rag and tissues for cleaning off your brushes and pen nibs.
This chapter then goes on to explain a typical comic-book page and all the elements that go into it. There are sixteen main pointers and all are alphabetically listed on one page and the actual comic-book page is on the adjacent page with the corresponding pointers so you know exactly what each part of the page is about.
For this purpose they use the Fantastic Four and a first page from one of their comics, which we are told is the 'Splash Page'. This is the page that starts the comic off with a large introductory illustration. It then goes on to talk about close ups and medium range shots as in how large or small the drawings are and how much they give us the impression of distance, just like a camera. It also explains a bird's eye view shot and a worm's eye view to help the artist learn how to draw from the two perspectives; i.e. from the ground and from above.
The last block in the chapter explains silhouetting or the blacking out of objects in the dark or shadow.
Chapter Two - The Secrets of Form! Making an Object Look Real!
Most people can draw but how do we make it look like a realistic picture. Some artists produce work that you feel you could reach out and touch or virtually pluck of the page. In chapter two we are shown how to draw shapes such as cylinders and blocks. John Buscema teaches us to not just concentrate on height and width and not making our drawings look flat. He teaches us the importance of depth and the thickness of an object. There are some examples for you to try out, such as drawing a gun, a car and an aeroplane. John also explains that although we want to rush off into drawing Spiderman battling Doc Octopus that the fundamentals are important if you want to move on.The chapter gets more and more technical as it moves on but is done so in a simplistic way that is easy to follow.
Chapter Three - The Power of Perspective!
John teaches us the importance of perspective in this chapter and shows us how to make sure that objects in our drawings are strategically placed and more importantly correctly placed in relation to distance, such as far away and near. The initial emphasis is concentrated on the horizon line which is basically the viewer's eye level or where your eyes would appear if they were in the picture.
You get a few examples and they are a good for practicing and then once again the chapter moves into a more technical mode. The artist learns how to draw buildings and buildings in relation to people.This chapter is invaluable if you want to create your own scenes or even draw your own comics.
Chapter Four -Let's Study - The Figure!
Figure drawing is probably the most important single element in the drawing of comics and this chapter pulls no punches in telling us exactly that. This chapter is really concentrated on the basics of figure drawing to get us started and a build up for the next chapter. We are shown how the male and female figures differ from each other and the differences in the skeletal structures and the muscles. A woman's body obviously differs from a man's figure and we learn how to draw a woman's curves.
Chapter Five - Let's draw the figure!
This chapter starts off with a lesson in beginning with the basics of figure drawing. We are told to draw stick figures and to practice them for hours, days and even weeks, until we are totally comfortable with them and can draw virtually any pose in stick figure form. We then learn how to 'flesh out' our stick figures by drawing muscles and shape on them. We learn how to draw different cylinders for different body parts such as calves, thighs, forearms and biceps. We also learn the obvious torso section in relation to the other body parts. We are shown how to draw a stick figure, add the cylinders and then rub out the construction lines and make the shapes look like more realistic body parts. Learning to train your imagination before you put anything down on paper is a large part of this process and it is not easy to do at all; if it was everyone would be able to do it.
Chapter Six - The Name of the Game is Action!
Now we have been taught how to draw the figures we learn how to make them part of an action sequence, to breathe life into them and animate them. We concentrate here on drawing a series of stick figures moving in motion of a certain action such as running, jumping or falling. Each stick figure is drawn in sequence to give us the feel of how the drawing of a figure moves while performing a certain action. We learn how to keep the figure motivated through the centre line of the torso. The centre line gives the figure its rhythm and is the basis for all figure drawing. Some examples of how to do it and how not to do it follow next in the chapter and we are shown the dynamic 'Marvel' way of doing it so as to be able to even make a standing figure look impressive. We are then given a chance to follow the whole five step process to draw our own first fully-fledged figure. In step one we draw the centre line to determine the curve and pose. Step two is the fleshing-out process. Step three we begin drawing through the figure and adding details. Step four sees us going over the whole sketch with a harder pencil and using more defined lines. Step five sees the darker shades and tones being added to the final drawing. It really is a great process and you really learn a lot.
Chapter Seven - Foreshortening! The knack of drawing the figure in perspective!
In this chapter we learn about perspective and analyse the fundamentals of how a body looks and acts in relation to its surroundings. We are told that every budding comic artist must be familiar with the art of foreshortening the body. Again we use the cylinders, spheres and cubes to practice the art. When a figure is tilted away from you or tilting towards you it looks like it is flattening out or becoming shorter. That's where the word foreshorten comes from; the object seems to become shorter as it is tilted towards the fore. This really learns you as an artist or budding artist to appreciate how parts of the body do look smaller as they are moved away from you. A great lesson about size in relation to how a body is lying is given in this chapter and it is invaluable to any artist.
Chapter Eight - Drawing the Human Head!
This is a large chapter and is brilliant to practice with. We learn how to draw the human head and inhuman head. We use the same basis as the figure with centre lines and shapes. We learn how to draw eyes, ears, the nose and of course the mouth. We are again shown how to draw both the male and the female head and of course, again, the female face has different curves such as the cheek bones and the lips. The hair is an important part of the head of course and we are shown how to tackle it. We learn how to draw different profiles as in side views, front views and back. Expressions are covered; frowns, grimaces, rage, sadness and every manner of facial expressions are covered.
Chapter Nine - Composition!
This is all about putting the picture together and we learn about composition, design and layout and getting your picture right to send across the message that you want to convey. We are shown examples of three basic panels to start with, each containing an action based picture or at least one with motion contained in it. A grey area or shaded in area shows us where the important areas of the picture are. A comic artist will sketch out his idea and always have a shaded area in mind where the main body of the drawing takes place. Sometimes too many objects fall outside of this area and will distract the reader or viewer from the main element. In this case the artist will mess around and change his drawing until he gets it all working in one unified block. The next few pages contain more pictures with shaded areas to help us train our eye and help us to recognise the main areas in a drawing.
The viewpoint or 'Camera Angle' is tackled next and we learn how to use dramatic angles to make a panel or page look more appealing or realistic. We are shown Marvel's Dr Strange in a panel, walking through a door; it is a flat drawing with no emphasis on camera angle or motion. We then see the same character drawn at a different angle and the panel is transformed into a scene of impending drama and the picture has a sudden sense of urgency. A great lesson comes up next as we draw a full six panel page of an Avengers story in two ways. As with Dr Strange we draw a basic six panels and then redo them with better angles and more action. The movement of the characters is more defined and the page is designed in a way that it comes to life. We also learn how to keep the sizes of the characters different for better effect as if they are all roughly the same size the composition becomes boring and stale. You can really see the difference and it is an invaluable lesson.
Chapter Ten - Draw Your Comic Book Page!
This is a brilliant chapter and the first time Marvel had ever given anyone the option to draw a page just like they do it. As an example we use a page from 'Captain Britain', which was actually produced by Marvel for the British audience. It's quite cool as we get to draw Captain America, Captain Britain and Nick Fury fighting together against the Red Skull. For the purpose of this exercise we don't draw any dialogue balloons or captions, so we can concentrate on the drawing. We start off with the stick figures and do all six panels before adding the cubes and cylinders and then fleshing-out the characters. We then work on another full page drawing featuring Spiderman. The end of the chapter gives us a chance to practice the basic panels again as a summary to what we have been doing in this chapter. This chapter is obviously a lot more in-depth than this review will reveal but I urge you to get the book if you want to have a go at this.
Chapter Eleven - The Comic book Cover!
We learn the importance of the cover in this chapter and learn how to catch the buyer's attention and intrigue them into wanting to pick the comic up in the first place. More thought and work go into the making of the cover than any other page in the comic. We are then given an example cover from 'The man Called Nova' featuring Spiderman. We are shown several loose sketches of ideas the artist had for the cover and shown a set of criticisms for each one and how the actual cover was finalised. A lot of different aspects of the cover are covered (pardon the pun), such as the title, the central focus, the wording and the perspective or angle.
Chapter Twelve - The Art of Inking!
This is another immensely important aspect of the comic; once the drawings have been done then Indian ink has to be applied over the top of the pencil or it will never get to sale. You can of course keep your drawings in pencil if you don't intend to sell them, but if you look at my Daredevil and Spiderman drawing in the photos, I have inked it over and it looks a lot better than it did in pencil form. It must be a devil to ink over someone else's drawings though and you need a steady hand; although mistakes can easily be rectified by using opaque white ink. This chapter goes deep into the different pens, brushes and materials you can use for inking and it delves into all the different strokes you can use.
We are then shown panels from comics as examples and we are actually shown famous drawings redone and overworked to show you that you can over saturate a picture if you're not careful. We are also shown different shading techniques for different moods. A general rule of thumb when inking is to keep it simple and keep it clear. The way they break a picture down in this chapter to show us the importance of the ink and of shadows is absolutely priceless if you want to gain knowledge as an artist.
My Final Thoughts
I have loved this book for years and I often find myself going back to it time and time again. At one hundred and sixty pages long it is an invaluable tool for any budding artist or indeed a professional one as a refresher. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in this genre of art and it is a must if you want to know insider secrets of how the best comic artists in the world ply their trade.
Five out of five stars for me.
Thanks for reading.
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Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare
Shakespeare uses many different methods to display tragedy and love throughout Romeo and Juliet. On both sides of the coin, the main tragic force is the feud between the two families; however, it is also the driving force for the love displayed in the play as well. Throughout the play many of the characters in Verona fall victim to the ... family feud. Many of the tragedies that beset this group of people stem from the feud and all around seem intrinsically linked into it in a way that makes the entire play seem as though it is built around the conceptual metaphor 'argument is war' as described in Lackoff and Johnson's studies.
The prologue to this play tells the reader immediately that the families are beset with tragic incidents and that there will be a tragic ending before the play has even begun; setting the scene for the serving men of both Montague and Capulet houses arguing. They speak to each other in a language similar to that used in poetry giving the overall scene a pace and beat that is moving fast enough for an argument, especially when the actions are added into the scene with the language. Levenson describes this where the Petrarchan cliché 'dear enemy' (p56) is used. The contradiction of these words when they are put into a sentence is echoed throughout the entire play by many of the characters. The cliché continues when Romeo not only falls in love with, but marries Juliet, an arch enemy of himself and his entire family in full knowledge of the situation.
Although the feud should have prevented Romeo and Juliet from ever falling in love, indeed from ever meeting, the fact that Juliet is a strong willed woman who at first never wanted to marry any man and then falls in love with the enemy of her father and family shows that who Romeo is could play a part in the reason for her falling in love with him. When she asks his name in Act 2 Scene 1 (2.1.95-96) she already knows who he is and begins to conspire immediately with him, Nurse and Friar Laurence to arrange a wedding behind her parents back.
'Bid her devise some means to come to shrift this
And there she shall at Friar Laurence' cell
Be shrived and married.' (Romeo 2.3.168-171)
It isn't until her hand is forced and she has to consent to marrying Paris that the feud causes the storyline to take a turn for the worse for both families.
The entire play is conceived of tragedy between the families from Romeo being banished from Verona for killing Tybalt and the death of Mercutio at Tybalt's hand in act three scene one; to the death of Juliet by her own hand due to the mix up that Balthazar caused by telling Romeo that his beloved Juliet was dead. Had he not taken the news to Romeo, the letter from Friar Laurence would have arrived to Romeo in Mantua and explained everything; he would have been less likely to have been at the family vault in the middle of the night where both of Juliet's suitors die; Paris in a tragic battle with Romeo and Romeo at the will of the apocothary who should never have been selling the poison he had as it was illegal. All this is described by Friar Laurence In Act 5 Scene 3.
'Betrothed and would have married her perforce
To County Paris. Then she comes to me,
And with wild looks bid me devise some mean
To rid her from this second marriage
Or in my cell there would she kill herself.'
Friar Laurence 5.3.238-242
From this it is possible to see that not only does the play relay on a driving tragic force, it also relies on the circumstances surrounding the characters; which also agrees with the discussion of Aristotle's description of the plot of a tragedy.
'It is arguable, moreover, that the play's catastrophe is shown to be the consequence of chance rather than of fate or providential design. (Pacheco, 40).
As stated earlier on the feud between the two families has an effect on everyone else in Verona as many of the supporters of one side or another are happy to break into arguments of fights in the street. It is due to this that the Prince declares that the feud be kept off the streets in Act one Scene one after the first street brawl between serving men of Romeo and Tybalt in which both masters become involved with.
'Three civil brawls bred of an airy word,
By thee old Capulet and Montague,
Have thrice disturbed the quiet of our streets,
And made Verona's ancient citizens
Cast by their grave beseeming ornaments,
To wield old partisans in hands as old,
Cankered with peace to part your cankered hate.
If you ever disturb our streets again,
Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.'
This warning from the Prince doesn't stop the aristocrats from starting their arguments in the street as honour dictates while onlookers run to get a watchman. The fighting normally follows a slight against one of the men involved, which leads to something tragic happening. This incites acts of revenge causing further fights, further deaths and is like a circle with no end. It is unlikely that the people involved can remember what caused the feud in the first instance. This seems to be due to men having quick retaliations to the smallest word against them without stopping to thing what the results from their reactions could be.
Pacheco discusses this further (Pacheco, p51) as even with the death of their only children both Montague and Capulet under the guise of a new friendship compete to build a statue of the other's child in pure gold not to be out done by the other. Thus it seems the death of their children hasn't quelled the family feud but maybe only given it a reprieve while they grieve for the children they have lost due to their own actions.
'Montague insists on offering more - a statue of Juliet in 'pure gold', which prompts Capulet to match the extravagant gesture with one 'as rich' of Romeo. Is Shakespeare hinting that these old rivals cannot stop competing with one another?' (Pacheco, 51).
It seems that even in their children's death the fathers are unable to put aside their quarrels and even though they seemingly stick to the kind of behaviour that is set by the honour code are still trying to outdo each other, were the deaths of Romeo, Juliet and Paris all in vain? From this it seems as though as soon as the appropriate time has passed for grieving both men will go back to being arch enemies rather than friends and the feud will continue until their deaths.
As you can see tragedy is the central theme in Romeo and Juliet and it is possible to see how the family feud between the Montague's and Capulet's can be seen as the main tragic force causing by chance or fate a number of events that would never had happened had the two families not been rivals. This is shown when we see how many people in the city of Verona the feud effects as well as how often the ruling forces of Verona have to get involved and break up street brawls and fights. Paris, Romeo and Juliet were all lacking in information in Act five when the three of them die, had it not been for that lack of information, it is likely that at least Romeo and Juliet would still be alive at the end of the play rather than having their father's lament over their memories. However, had there been no feud in the first place the play would have been very different. It would likely have been a story of two star crossed lovers getting married and spending their lives together as there would have been no central theme for tragedy written into the plot without the family feud.
Shakespeare draws the reader (or viewer) into this feud making them vie for the couple against the odds of their fathers arguments. It is one of my favourite works by him and I can see why it is a firm favourite for GCSE students to study (although I studied Julius Ceasar). The language used is full of metaphors, similes and other poetry devices but it isn't too difficult to understand the plot and keep up with what is going on as the main story line isn't deviated from too much. If you like Shakespeare and haven't read this one, I recommend that you do.
Levenson, J.L. (ed.) (2000) The Oxford Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Pacheco, A. A177 Shakespeare: An Introduction (3rd edition) 2009 The Open University
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Homemade Gifts Vintage Style - Sarah Moore
I bought this book from the discount bookshop The Works, during one of my frequent visits where I tend to pop in to have a look round and end up buying lots of books I don't really need! One of my hobbies is sewing and crafting, and having recently finished a beginner's dressmaking course I have been keeping an eye out for any books ... which may help me practise my skills by making little bits and bobs for using round the house or giving as gifts.
I paid £5.99 for this book, which was great value as it's a beautifully presented hardback vintage style book, with great quality thick paper pages and lovely photography. The RRP is £16.99 which is a bit overpriced in my opinion, although I would say the book looks like a premium book, I would suggest an appropriate RRP of around £10 myself, although obviously I was happy to spend much less than this. It costs around £10 on Amazon at the moment, which is still good value in my opinion.
As I've already mentioned, the book is hardback, and has a lovely pretty pink ribbon to help keep your place. It also stays open without having to snap the spine, which is useful when following craft projects as it's not really practical trying to do things one-handed because you're using the other hand to keep the book open at the page you're trying to follow.
The blurb on the back of the book tells us it contains 50 inspirational ideas for vintage gifts, from teacup handles, button bracelets, Christmas stockings and so on. The projects can be used as gifts, and only take a couple of hours each, so they are very accessible to all skill levels. Although I primarily bought this for the sewing projects, there are in fact other little projects which anyone could do, such as a beaded door hanger, a covered notebook, and Christmas decorations.
The book is split into the following chapters:
· Basic Kit
· Made by hand
· Sewn by hand
· Sewn by machine
· Cards and packaging
The section I have used most is the sewing by hand section, as I wanted to experiment with using different stitches before I started getting to grips with the sewing machine. I have so far attempted a strawberry pin cushion, a notebook cover, and some felt gingerbread men for the Christmas tree. They are all very easy projects, with numbered step by step instructions which I find easy to follow. There is a photo of the finished result, so you know what it should look like. It also tells you at the beginning of the project what equipment you need, to help you get organised.
As I love all things crafty, I love the variety of this book as it offers different projects which require different skills. For example, although I love sewing, I also like the look of some of the made by hand projects, such as a candle teacup, or covered suitcases. Some of these ideas would be great either for giving as gifts, or if you are planning a vintage style wedding. There are ideas you could use for favours, table decorations, or for receiving cards (such as the covered suitcase).
Admittedly, not all projects appeal, for example the lampshade is a bit hideous in my opinion, and some of the projects are things more suitable for doing with kids rather than as an adult project. For example, there is a bracelet made out of buttons which would be good for keeping children entertained. I should also mention that about half of the book is taken up by the sewing sections (by hand and machine), so if you're into papercraft and general crafting, you won't get the most out of this book. This warrants a star being knocked off in my opinion, as it's fairly restrictive if (a) you don't like sewing, and (b) you don't have access to a sewing machine.
Using the book is a pleasure, and they have very thoughtfully put the chapter name at the bottom of each page, so you can see at a glance which category the project falls under. This came in handy before I had access to a sewing machine, because it avoided me getting my heart set on a project I needed a sewing machine for.
When I first bought this book, I was a bit concerned that there was no guide as to the difficulty level of each project, and I wasn't sure if I would end up wasting my time starting something that I wasn't able to complete. As it turns out, I don't think anything in this book is overly difficult, although obviously if you have an interest and history of crafting you will find the tasks easier. Even the sewn by machine projects seem fairly straightforward, on a par with the beginners sewing books I have where they start with basics such as cushions and aprons.
There are templates at the back of the book, which are very prettily presented in vintage patterns, and as it's such a lovely book you wouldn't really want to be cutting it up to get the templates. It does suggest using tracing paper or photocopying the templates to avoid spoiling the book, and in fairness the shapes are fairly basic so it's not difficult to replicate them without having to cut the book into pieces. Some books have an envelope with separate pieces of paper for the patterns, but as these are such basic templates this isn't really necessary.
I really love this book, and think it's excellent value for the money I paid. It would suit anyone learning to sew, or someone who enjoys crafting and making things, especially as gifts or for a forthcoming wedding. If I didn't already own this book, I would be very happy to receive it as a Christmas present, so if you know somebody crafty, make a trip to The Works!
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S Non-Fiction Book
Author: Shereen El Feki / Non-Fiction Book / Paperback / 368 Pages / Book is published 2013-03-07 by Chatto & Windus
Harry's Magic Tables: Teach Your Child Their Times Tables in as Little as a Week! - Stephanie Moraghan
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Genre: Humour / Non-Fiction Book / Author: Sheila Sweeny Higginson / Paperback / 24 Pages / Book is published 2013-01-08 by Disney Press
Genre: Junior Books / Non-Fiction Book / Author: Steve Mills / Hilary Koll / Paperback / 64 Pages / Book is published 2013-01-31 by Rising Stars UK Ltd
Genre: Junior Books / Non-Fiction Book / Author: Steve Mills / Hilary Koll / Paperback / 60 Pages / Book is published 2013-01-31 by Rising Stars UK Ltd
Author: Sue Palmer / Non-Fiction Book / Paperback / 320 Pages / Book is published 2013-03-07 by Orion
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