I really thought I had already written an article on useful books for making comics. But when I checked, nothing! Over the years I’ve built up quite a collection of helpful books and I thought I’d categorize them into groups based on different areas of making comics. I’ve split them into Writing, Drawing, General, Colouring, and Lettering. I also have a little bonus section for books that don’t fit into any category but I’ve found them helpful nonetheless. If you are a comic creator reading this, I hope you find something useful for your comic creation needs. 

Disclamer: I’m not being sponsored by any of these books but I have provided Amazon Affiliate links which I benefit from if you do click and purchase from them ?

Article Short Cut Links (Click or tap the title)
1. Books for Writing Comics
2. Books for Drawing Comics
3. General Books for Making Comics
4. Books for Colouring Comics
5. Books for Lettering Comics
6. Bonus Books

Books for Writing Comics

Title: The Art of Comic Book Writing
Author: Mark Kneece
Published: 2015


  • A great introduction to writing comics
  • Covers all the bases of writing
  • Lots of clear examples
  • Easy-to-read layout


  • May not offer much to seasoned writers

Links to purchase the book

UK: https://amzn.to/3g8gjLK

US: https://amzn.to/3etXsKU

This is a fantastic book for writers which I refer back to often. Mark Kneece has written a very practical guide for writing that is suitable for beginners. He takes readers through the basics of starting with an idea, writing and formating a script, developing characters/world-building, and generally how to pace a story. I found the two chapters on world-building particularly useful as a guide is provided for how many pages should be dedicated to different acts of the story. Of course, this is just a guide but if you are writing your first story then this can be very useful. I write about this guide in a previous blog post here.

There was also an interesting section on ‘The Joy of Discovery’ which I personally think is one of the main strengths of comics as a medium. Throughout the book examples of both visual pages and scripts are used to help give clarity to points discussed. The layout of the book keeps things interesting and easy to read. I thoroughly recommend this book if you are just starting out or if you find that your writing tends to be a little unstructured. 

Title: Alan Moore’s Writing for Comics – Volume One
Author: Alan Moore
Published: 2010


  • Insights into the thinking of a great writer
  • Cheap and easy to pick up


  • Not a practical guide to writing comics
  • No subheadings or clear layout
  • Very short

Links to purchase the book

UK: https://amzn.to/3EC3tzE

US: https://amzn.to/3TgOMWP

This is an interesting book for writers. Although titled ‘Volume 1’, I’m not aware of any follow-up to this book and it seems that this is the only guide written by Alan Moore. It is very short at less than 50 pages in length. This is because it originally was written as an essay in 1985 that appeared in an obscure British fanzine. Rather than being a comprehensive guide to writing, the book shares Moore’s thoughts and ideas on the process. It’s written as if Moore is speaking directly to the reader and whilst it is grouped into chapters, the lack of subheadings can make it difficult to read. It outlines his philosophy for writing comic books based on his years of experience. It’s great supplementary information but I wouldn’t say it’s a must-read for writers. It’s fairly cheap and easy to pick up on Amazon but its price probably reflects its value to comic writers, especially since many other books have been made on the topic since this was written in 1985.

Title: Words for Pictures – The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels
Author: Brian Michael Bendis
Published: 2014


  • Collection of insights from seasoned creators
  • Good layout, a good mix of visuals and text
  • Beneficial if you work as part of a creative team


  • Not a practical guide to writing stories
  • The interview-style layout might not suit everyone

Links to purchase the book

UK: https://amzn.to/3CtSCoQ

US: https://amzn.to/3rY4jiB

In the introduction, seasoned writer Bendis states: “I don’t want you to write like me. I want you to write like you.” He offers a ‘nuts and bolts’ look at the creation of modern comics. Rather than just including his own thoughts, Bendis includes the insights of his collaborators and peers in the industry. You find a breakdown of script layouts complete with examples from Bendis but then the next chapter will look at another writer’s process. For example, Matt Fraction offers insights into his process which naturally differs from Bendis. There’s a section on how writers can best work with artists. It’s presented in interview-style contributions. The role and relationship of editors are also expounded upon along with the business side of getting your work published. 

Rather than being a detailed ‘how to’ book like Kneece’s The Art of Comic Book Writing, this is more of an insight into the thinking of successful writers and artists we‘re familiar with. I wouldn’t classify this as a must-have book but it is a good read if you understand the basics of writing or if you create comics as part of a creative team. Understanding the viewpoint of your creative peers is essential to produce a cohesive high-quality product.

Books for Drawing Comics

Title: The Best of Wizard Basic Training: How to Draw Vol 1
Author: Wizard Entertainment (Various contributors)
Published: 2005


  • A huge list of professional comic creators contributing to the book
  • Large book, over 250 pages in length
  • Something for everyone, some sections on writing, colouring and the business of comics


  • Not a super in-depth guide into any one subject, e.g. anatomy, layouts, etc.
  • Difficult to find a copy for purchase

Links to purchase the book

UK: Unavailable in the UK

US: https://amzn.to/3TgPIuj

Wizard Magazine, now that makes me feel old. I remember picking up copies of Wizard as a kid from my local market. They were packed with previews, interviews, and Basic Training Articles. These articles were hosted by a different artist each month, offering insight into the techniques used by current professionals in the business. Wizard then went on to collate these and publish them into one main book and then several smaller-sized books. 

This is a great book for comic artists if only for the sheer range of artists that are featured. Over 250 pages by the likes of Jim Lee, Michael Turner, George Perez, Joe Kubert, David Finch, Adam Hughes, and more. The book does contain some articles on other areas of making and producing comics but the majority of the book focuses on drawing. 

Chapters are split into sub-chapters or parts. Each sub-part is mostly handled by a different creator. For example, Anatomy is split up in the following way:

Chapter Three: Anatomy:

  • Structure – Kevin Maguire
  • Head & Torso – Kevin Maguire
  • Facial Expressions – Kevin Maguire
  • Hands – Gary Frank
  • Legs – Bart Sears
  • Feet Women – Darick Robinson
  • Sultry Women – Adam Hughes
  • Realistic Women – Terry Moore
  • Sex Appeal – Michael Turner
  • Teens & Children – Tom Grummett
  • Proportions – Dale Keown

That’s quite a list of creators in that one section alone! Other chapters include figures in action, creating your world, storytelling, and much more. These professionals make comics on a daily basis and have been doing some for decades. This book is a fantastic introduction to making comics in a general way, touching on all aspects of the creation process. 

The guides are put together in a clear consistent way across creators and even though it came out many years ago, I highly recommend it.

Title: The DC Comics Guide to Pencilling Comics
Author: DC Comics / Klaus Janson
Published: 2002


  • Klaus Janson's art is a great example to learn from
  • If you love the look of DC Comics you may really like this book
  • Some really interesting sections on what makes comics special


  • Not a super in-depth guide into any one subject, e.g. anatomy, layouts, etc.
  • Nothing that other books don't cover

Links to purchase the book

UK: https://amzn.to/3MvpZfq

US: https://amzn.to/3VrJ7iw

There is a range of comic-creating books that DC has produced. They come under ‘The DC Comics guide to’:

  • Writing Comics
  • Penciling Comics
  • Inking Comics
  • Coloring and Lettering Comics
  • Digitally Drawing Comics
  • Creating Comics

I didn’t realize until writing this article that DC had put out so many guides for creating comics. I own two books, Penciling comics and Coloring/Lettering Comics. Both books are mentioned and reviewed in this list. 

‘Penciling comics’ is written by Klaus Janson, a well-known name in comics with a long history working for DC comics. I really like his artistic style, it has an old-school element to it, with wonderful suaves of black on top of solid anatomy and perspective. 

The book starts from the beginning, examining tools and materials and progressing on to anatomy, clothing, perspective, and storytelling. This is great if you are starting at the beginning of your creative journey but if you have already begun then chapters dealing with tools and materials can seem like a waste of pages as they often covered well-trodden information. As a result of including these types of chapters, other areas of the books don’t go as deep as some readers may like. For example, chapter seven is about Juxtaposition (placing images together for comparison or contrast for assimilation). Now that is quite a topic and one that is unique to comic book storytelling, not found in any other medium. I personally believe that this is an important topic to understand in order to make good comics and yet there are only 5 pages dedicated to this, with one of those pages being a full-page image example. 

Other chapters discuss, layout, composition, angles, and movement with plenty of examples provided (all from DC comics of course). I would recommend this book if you are just starting your comic creator journey but if you are familiar with the general process you will likely want something a bit meatier to sink your teeth into.

Title: How to Draw Noir Comics: The Art and Techniques of Visual storytelling
Author: Shawn Martinbrough
Published: 2007


  • This is a great book on Noir Comics, there aren't many other books
  • Shawn Martinbrough's work is gorgeous and moody
  • Includes a small graphic novel story in the book!


  • The drawing style may be a bit too niche for some
  • Doesn't cover other areas of drawing comics

Links to purchase the book

UK: https://amzn.to/3Tbm8qo

US: https://amzn.to/3S3e8Xg

Here is a really interesting insight into the niche of Noir Comics. For those unfamiliar with the term, Noir is the French term for Black, and Film Noir has often been characterised as a type of crime film featuring cynical malevolent characters in a sleazy setting and an ominous atmosphere that is conveyed by shadowy photography. This has come over into comics too but Shawn Martinbrough mentions in his intro that to him, Noir simply celebrates the colour black and is not confined to a specific genre. In this book, he shares his approach to dramatic lighting, interesting cinematic angles, and creating emotional moments in panels. His aim is to help readers attain a noir ascetic to their storytelling. 

Notable chapters I enjoyed are:

  • Creating a Mood with Shadow and Light
  • Staging Action 
  • Creating Drama

The book is filled with plenty of gorgeous visual examples from Shawn’s work and there’s even a bonus lettered story included at the end of the book. This is a great book for learning how to use black in an effective way in your comics.

Title: Framed Ink Series (Framed Ink/Framed Ink 2, Framed Perspective Vol 1 & 2)
Author: Marcos Mateu-Mastre
Published: 2010/2020


  • Both books are a deep view into what makes a great panel
  • Excellent examples of black for composition and mood
  • A book that you can revisit regularly


  • Although different panel sizes are considered there is more to consider to layout and composition
  • Doesn't cover other areas of drawing comics

Links to purchase the book Framed Ink

UK: https://amzn.to/3esI4OR

US: https://amzn.to/3Mva0OB

Links to purchase the book Framed Ink 2

UK: https://amzn.to/3yBtlIa

US: https://amzn.to/3SUBX4O

Here are a great series of books from my shelf by Marcos Mateu-Mastre. However, in this review, I’m only going to focus on Framed Ink and Framed Ink 2. In my humble opinion, these books are the most valuable to comic creators out of the series. There are lots of books available on perspective but these two books really help comic creators to create effective panels.

The majority of Framed ink focuses on composing images to convey a visual message or feeling. This includes the use of negative space, order vs chaos, and concealing/revealing emotions. when reading the book you can see Marcos’ experience in feature animation and film. One thing I particularly like about Marcos’s art is his heavy use of black in his panel work. There is a real sense of mood and black is often used as part of the composition to direct the reader’s eye.

Framed Ink 2 continues with the theme of composition however it takes a much deeper look into the subject. In this book, Marcos discusses the use of frame space and how to build energy within that space. For example, Marcos shows how to create action and reaction within a static panel using areas of compression and release in the composition. Composition flow is another topic that is discussed which is useful in guiding the reader’s eye in a particular direction. In addition, this book also deals with different panel shapes, both vertical and horizontal, which lends itself more to the comic format. In summary, both of these books focus on composition specifically in visual storytelling which is an essential skill for comic creators.

General Books for Making Comics

Title: Understanding Comics / Making Comics
Author: Scott McCloud
Published: 1993 / 2006


  • Both books are a must-read for serious comic creators
  • A seriously deep insight into the medium of comics
  • You'll find topics rarely discussed in other books
  • Scott McCloud is a comics genius - the presentation format is excellent!


  • The book doesn't concentrate on any one role in comics

Links to purchase Making Comics

UK: https://amzn.to/3CvrSo7

US: https://amzn.to/3MqvJHy

Links to purchase Understanding Comics

UK: https://amzn.to/3g3O6WF

US: https://amzn.to/3VlRSuC

Here are two books I highly recommend for comic creators. They are not your typical ‘how to’ books. Although it does touch on writing and inking/coloring, they are not in-depth guides. These books excel in their discussion of the medium of comics and its specific nuances. The method of delivery is interesting and different from most books on making comics. Both of these books are written as comics. How meta! Explaining the medium of comics through comics.

Understanding Comics investigates the relationship history of words and pictures and how the form has changed in different countries and cultures. It also discusses the importance of gutters and what takes place between panels in the reader’s mind and the path creators take when embarking on making comics. It’s a great explanation of what comics are and what has contributed to the medium.

Making Comics focuses on more practical lessons and builds on the theory that the first book researched. You’ll learn how to choose between different moments to represent your story, how to create interesting characters, and how to harness subtle storytelling tools like body language and facial expressions (one of my favorite parts of the book).

The level of depth astounds me every time I read these and these are the most revisited books on my ‘how to’ shelf. In my opinion, these are must-read books for those creators who are serious about pushing themselves and the medium of comics beyond current boundaries.

Title: How Comics Work
Author: Dave Gibbons / Tim Pilcher
Published: 2017


  • Dave Gibbons has decades of experience
  • A great holistic view of creating comics
  • Lots of examples from Gibbons' own library of personal work
  • Lots of signed copies around in London shops


  • Not super deep on any one specific topic

Links to purchase the book

UK: https://amzn.to/3VlRSuC

US: https://amzn.to/3RZHCW7

I attended this book launch in Orbital Comics, a shop in London (before it sadly closed down). Both Dave Gibbons and Tim Pilcher attended and gave a panel discussion of the book’s creation. Dave Gibbons is a fantastic comic creator and his work on Watchman with Alan Moore still stands the test of time. He has 50 years of experience in every aspect of making comics making this book a great insight into the creator’s view of comics. It touches on many subjects and whilst not functioning as an in-depth guide into each topic (e.g. this isn’t a full guide to anatomy or script writing) it does give a holistic view of the full process and how the different elements come together to make great stories. Gibbons gives plenty of examples from behind the scenes and cites examples from influences that have shaped this process.

Scriptwriting, letter writing, coloring, design, and storytelling are covered with lots of visuals. Dave and Tim have produced a great book full of practical tips on making comics.

Title: Comics & Sequential Art: Principles and Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist
Author: Will Eisner
Published: 2008


  • Advice from a true legend of comics
  • If you like Scott McCloud books you'll like this too
  • Lots of practical examples


  • I wish all 3 of his books were combined into one book

Links to purchase the book

UK: https://amzn.to/3TdRYCC

US: https://amzn.to/3Cx4LcM

Will Eisner is a legend in the comics industry. If you have never come across his work, I highly recommend ‘City People Notebook’ and ‘New York: The Big City’. All of his works are expertly written. So when I found out that he had produced a number of books on making comics I had to read them.

Comics & Sequential Art refines graphic storytelling into clear, concise principles for creators to learn. Dialogue, expressive anatomy, framing, timing, and other aspects are covered. I particularly enjoyed chapter 3 on timing as time is handled uniquely in the comics medium and it’s rarely discussed in-depth in ‘how to’ books. Time is framed in the pages we create and we can control the perception of how much time is passed between panels. This can vary anywhere from seconds to millennia. Plenty of examples from Eisner’s own work are referenced to help readers understand the point.

Expressive anatomy is another great chapter. The example below shows clearly how changing the body language of characters changes the interpretation of the dialogue. This touches on a topic of comics that deeply fascinates me, specifically, how the correct understanding of a scene can only be derived from the successful combination of words and images.

This is a great book and as I write this I’ve just added his other two books on making comics to my Amazon basket to expand my collection!

Books for Colouring Comics

Title: The DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics
Author: DC Comics, Mark Chiarello and Todd Klein
Published: 2004


  • Not many books deal with colouring comics
  • The book gives the standard that DC used (a little outdated)


  • Outdated when discussing software options
  • There are deeper levels to colouring comics not discussed

Links to purchase the book

UK: https://amzn.to/3fYqJO5

US: https://amzn.to/3rSLIEQ

DC has a series of books on making comics and while they are a little dated the principles are sound and useful. I haven’t come across too many in-depth books on comic colouring specifically and this is the only book that covers the subject in some depth. There are many useful sections in this book. For example, it discusses value, intensity, colour temperature and complementary colour theory. Light sources, skin tones and colouring styles are also detailed along with other tricks and tips to make your work look professional.

Many of the principles are useful but where this book starts to show its age is when it discusses the use of computers in colouring. At the time of publishing the most recent version of Adobe Photoshop was 7.0 In fact, the writer says they personally use version 4.0! However, since that time there have been a number of alternative tools available. My particular favourite is Clip Studio Paint. It’s a fantastic tool that is slowly becoming a favourite amongst comic creators.

Another part of this book covers lettering, but I won’t cover that too much as I prefer the content in the books mentioned in the lettering section of this article.

Books for Lettering Comics

Title: Comic Book Lettering
Author: Richard Starkings & Josh Roshell
Published: 2003


  • Written by lettering professionals in the industry
  • Visually appealing layout 
  • Some good commentary on what works and why


  • Very short compared to other books on this list
  • Lots of other areas of lettering comics not covered

Links to purchase the book

UK: https://amzn.to/3g59hrp

US: Unavailable in the US

This is an old gem in my collection that I picked up many years ago. This is a short publication just over 60 pages long, covering some of the principles need to letter comics well. The book is written by the same creative team that made the website https://www.comicbookfonts.com/, a website that sells custom-made fonts.

The book goes through the basics of lettering including, how to create balloons/tails, captions, SFX, and titles. There is even a small section showing how to create your own font from scratch. The book is very colourful with lots of accompanying examples. It’s partly also laid out like a comic book, using the same principles it teaches to communicate to readers.

Lettering comics digitally has come a long way since this book was published but this is a quirky little find even if it doesn’t feel like a large full-on book like others in this list.

Title: The Essential Guide to Comic Book Lettering
Author: Nate Piekos
Published: 2021


  • A very in-depth look into lettering
  • Written by a professional letterer with tons of experience
  • Huge book - over 250 pages


  • Book has been written with Adobe Illustrator in mind
  • No chapters discussing how to creator your own custom fonts

Links to purchase the book

UK: https://amzn.to/3CQvEJX

US: https://amzn.to/3rV8ITH

I’ve been following the Blambot blog from Nate Piekos for some years. He is an award-winning comic book letterer who has worked for all of the major publishers and who also creates his own fonts from scratch. I recommend checking out his website which has great fonts for sale and many free articles that are useful for creators. 

Recently, Nate has collated his knowledge and years of experience and produced a highly detailed guide to lettering. The book discusses the different methods for lettering, and how to adhere to good lettering principles when stacking lines and laying out speech bubbles. In addition, it covers how to handle captions, sound effects, titles, and logos. Each chapter is logical and easy to follow with visual examples. 

It does focus on using Adobe Illustrator which may not be your preferred choice of software but I found that the principles and ideas still translate, providing you know your chosen software well. If you are an all-in-one comic creator who letters your own comics, this can be an invaluable resource. I often find that indie comics are let down by the lack of good lettering and this leads to an unprofessional finish.

Bonus Books!

Title: Panel Discussions: Design in Sequential Art Storytelling
Author: Durwin S. Talon
Published: 2007


  • An interesting approach to laying out the book
  • Contains a deep look at panels in comics you might not find elsewhere


  • The layout of the book may not appeal to everyone
  • The book may be hard to find and purchase

Links to purchase the book

UK: https://amzn.to/3rOLXki

US: https://amzn.to/3MucVab

Panel discussions is a little like the ‘Words for Pictures’ mentioned in the writing section of this article. The book features tutorial interviews and examples by a host of comic creators including Mike Wieringo, Mark Schultz, Mike Mignola, Scott Hampton, and even Will Eisner. It aims to provide industry expert discussions of pacing, story flow, gutter use between panels, and more.

Whilst it is an interesting read, and each chapter covers something different, there is no specific subject layout. Instead, each chapter is titled after each comic creator and is presented almost as an interview that then touches on a specific aspect of creating comics. Examples from published comics are found throughout but step-by-step guides or breakdowns of specific storytelling tools are not included.

It is an interesting read with some thought-provoking insights, but it may leave newer creators needing more to complete their knowledge of what exactly is required to create a comic.

Title: The Resonator / The Making of a Graphic Novel
Author: Prentis Rollins
Published: 2006


  • Half of the book is an original graphic novel!
  • The process is seen through the eyes of a single comic creator
  • Novel layout to the book


  • The 'how to' parts of the book are fairly high level
  • The book may be hard to find and purchase

Links to purchase the book

UK: https://amzn.to/3VmXzIO

US: https://amzn.to/3EAtiAl

This is a very interesting book that I think I picked up at The Works (a discount bookstore in the UK). What makes this book unique is that it is reversible when flipped over and turned upside down. One half of the book focuses on the process of making comics and the other half is a complete graphic novel (at almost 100 pages) called ‘The Resonator’, completely created by the author himself. I have great admiration for creators that take on the role of writing, drawing, and lettering/colouring. As a bonus, this sci-fi story includes a cat, and who doesn’t like a cat in comics!

Writing, penciling, inking, and lettering comics are covered with direct examples used from The Resonator graphic novel. Nothing particularly groundbreaking is discussed but seeing the creative process of a single graphic novel and then seeing the direct result is something rarely seen in other books. This really is a nice addition to my collection and is unlike many of the other books available.

Title: Reinventing Comics: The Evolution of an Art Form
Author: Scott McCloud
Published: 2000


  • More Scott McCloud
  • The layout continues to make it easy to read


  • Much of the book is only a theory of what could happen
  • The book starts to show its age when discussing technology

Links to purchase the book

UK: https://amzn.to/3rO2vsJ

US: https://amzn.to/3T0B4Yr 

Scott McCloud’s books are a great read, however, out of the 3 books on making/understanding comics, this tends to be the weakest in my opinion. It is still a great read but offers less to comic creators than his other two books.

Rather than focusing on understanding how the medium works or the storytelling skills needed to make successful comics, it is a lively discussion on how the comics business might respond to change. McCloud presents 12 revolutions that McCloud predicts are necessary for the comic book to survive as a medium. For example, will the perception of comics as a ‘low’ art form begin to match that of respected literature?

In addition, McCloud tries to explore the future of comics when it comes to technology. The intricacies of digital production are investigated along with the idea of an infinite digital canvas. Some interesting ideas are presented and as we are now over 20 years after the book was first published, it’s interesting to compare how comics have actually evolved over time. However, creators needing practical lessons may be left needing more.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this article for comic creators. Is there a particular book that’s helped you as a comic creator that’s not on this list? If so, mention it in the comments below.

Although this hasn’t been an in-depth review of each book, I hope you’ve managed to find something that will help you in your creative journey. Stay tuned for more articles in the future.