When we think of comics it’s all too easy to reduce them to pictures and word balloons. But a good comic also relies on effective page layout, framing, point of view, story pacing, spacing, lettering and many other techniques that – paradoxically – must remain invisible to the lay reader.
Written by award-winning comics writer, artist and editor Gary Spencer Millidge, ILEX Press Comic Book Design, which recently went on sale, lays bare the design processes and unique grammar behind this art form.
Using hundreds of examples of artwork from some of the biggest and most-respected names in comics, Gary lifts the lid on the techniques and ideas that underpin the greatest comics, providing a fascinating insight for readers, writers and artists alike.
“This book is something that I consider to be one of my major works,” enthuses Gary on his blog. “Quite apart from writing approximately 40,000 words on the subject, I had to research, locate, select and scan several hundred appropriate images in an attempt to illustrate the points I was trying to make. Packaged in a lavish 10 ix 11 inch format
it contains 160 full-colour pages and takes a design-oriented view of the creation of comic books, strip-mining the depth and breadth of comics history for its example illustrations.
“It’s not exactly a how-to book, although there are some nice examples of behind-the-scenes materials,” he continues. “It doesn’t include anything much about drawing or anatomy or perspective. It’s more about how comics work, how creators consciously or unconsciously design a character, a story, a page, a panel; and how it all comes together to form the unique visual storytelling that only comics can offer. There are sections on lettering and colour and publication design itself, and each section is punctuated by a designer spotlight on creators like Brian Wood and Chris Ware.”
• Comic Book Design is published by Ilex Press in the UK and Watson-Guptill in the US and should be available from any good comic or book retailer, in-store or online.
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.