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Let’s Make Comics!

Jess Smart Smiley
Watson Guptill
$12.99

Do you have a budding artist in your family? Are you concerned about possibly bored children at home during the summer? Or maybe you’re a teacher in search of art projects for students? Cartoonist Jess Smart Smiley’s Let’s Make Comics, available starting June 5th, is a book for you to consider. Open the book’s oversized covers and you’ll discover more than sixty activities to help youngsters start making their own comics. Smiley uses the likeable cartoon duo of Peanut the Turtle and Bramble the Bear to humorously relate clear instructions which break down comics making and storytelling into its various components of drawing, basic plotting, inking, and lettering. His reassuring and gentle proceed at your own pace approach encourages practice and exploration using one’s imagination and observation of the real world and how to play with different vantage points for emphasis and visual interest.

Sample activities range the full gamut and include character design, pacing and formatting, inking and mark making for shading, dialog and caption writing, and ways to generate ideas. The exercise of drawing a four panel comic strip of how to brush your teeth may seem basic though in reality it helps to train the mind to think in artistic terms. Organized in a logical progression, you’ll have kids learning the foundation and being a cartoonist before you know it! Or possibly even a story board artist for movies or animation.

A glossary of basic terms and a handy skill set reference guide round out the book. Adults might wonder about proper art tools. Smiley didn’t include such a list and in my opinion it was a good decision. Just start with a basic #2 pencil, a ruler, a pink pearl or gum eraser, regular copy paper, and a black marker or two with different but appropriate width tips. The wider the tip the bigger the mark. Starting with the basics minimizes being intimidated or pressured by expensive art tools. Think about a trip to a craft or art supply store with your newbie comics maker once they’ve grown comfortable with these tools.

The binding here is an interesting choice. First, individual pages are sewn together in sections and then these bound sections are joined to the spine with perfect binding. Sewn binding is most often used for hard covers as sewing pages together makes for a more durable book. Perfect (or glue) binding is a good solution for managing production costs and making this affordable. From a practical viewpoint it means pages will stay open when the book is placed on a table and your budding cartoonist has a hassle free experience doing each project.

The tone and style of Let’s Make Comics is clearly designed to appeal to kids. Its skill building structure and clarity will guide anyone with curiosity regardless of age through the process. Adults and children doing these activities together could make for a memorable bonding experience or possibly rekindle a long ago interest in art or comics.

Look for Let’s Make Comics at your local book store or purchase from Amazon.

You can visit Jess Smart Smiley here and here on the web.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 2, 2018
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