by JP Coovert
2019 / 124 pages
Cartooning was a fascination as a kid, so I’ve read a few different books on how to do it, and I think this might be the best overall introduction I’ve seen. One of its strengths is the way it teaches – via a comic adventure! Our guide Maggie, and her dog Rex, are trying to fulfill her grandfather’s dream of having a comic library, but the villain of the piece, Dr. Stephens wants to turn the building into a parking lot. How can they stop him? A discovered treasure map might lead to just what they need to buy the building.
Alongside their treasure quest, readers are given 6 projects to complete:
- Learning the parts of a comic
- Planning a comic strip
- Drawing your comic strip
- Making a one-sheet, 8-page comic
- Printing your one-sheet comic
- Make a bigger comic book
There’s piles of information here, but kids only have to use the bare bones of it – just a pencil and a sheet of paper – to start making their own mini-comic books. And if they get into it, then they can dive back into the book to learn more about the different pencils, pens, brushes, and techniques they can use to get better.
There isn’t a lot of help offered for actual drawing techniques – kids will have to turn elsewhere to find more on that. What this book is about is equipping kids to get a running start in presenting their story or joke in a polished and yet still easy-to-do manner, even while their art skills might be at the stick figure level. They can get excited about starting and completing an actual comic.
The only caution is a minor one, a passing mention made in one of the comic captions about dinosaurs living 65 millions years ago.
My 10-year-old daughter and I have read another in this “Maker Comics” series and found Build a Robot a lot harder to get off and running with – you need to have a spare small motor lying around. That said, Draw a Comic does have us interested in checking out others, like Grow a Garden and Bake Like a Pro. We did discover though, that like many books published after 2020, one of the later additions to this series bent their knee to the LGBT lobby: the kid in 2021’s Conduct a Science Experiment has two moms.