The best books on the craft of comics

Lee Nordling Author Of Comics Creator Prep
By Lee Nordling

Who am I?

I’m an Eisner-nominated and award-winning graphic novel and comics writer, editor, and book packager. I've worked on staff at the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Disney Publishing, DC Comics, Nickelodeon Magazine, and Platinum Studios. My sequential art book, The Bramble, won the 2013 Moonbeam Gold Medal for Picture Books, and I created a new way to read comics with BirdCatDog, a 2015 Eisner Awards nominee, that received the 2015 Moonbeam Spirit Award Gold Medal for Imagination, and was chosen by Kirkus Reviews as one of the best children’s books of 2014. SheHeWe, the third book in the series, was a 2016 Eisner Award nominee for Best Publication for Early Readers.


I wrote...

Comics Creator Prep

By Lee Nordling,

Book cover of Comics Creator Prep

What is my book about?

Where inspiration and spontaneity prime a comic’s pump, create a vision, propel it forward, and give it life, Comics Creator Prep raises the level of comics craft to give a creator the requisite tools to consistently realize that vision. It shows creators how to use the tools in their comic toolboxes well.

One Amazon reader wrote: “This book deserves a place next to the works of McCloud and Eisner on any would-be comics creator's bookshelf. Nordling's classroom-style comics-writing exercises, and critiques of his (imaginary) students’ executions of them, really help to hammer home points about how to think comics, in a way that simple exposition cannot.”

The books I picked & why

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Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art

By Scott McCloud,

Book cover of Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art

Why this book?

First things first, every other book on understanding and making comics is simply an addendum to the work of Scott McCloud and Will Eisner. The fact is: most comics creators begin the process of learning to write and draw comics by teaching themselves from the comics and graphic novels they read, mostly through observation, and trial and error. With Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud, in addition to Eisner, pioneered the analytical study of how and why comics work. It’s a must-read for any serious comics creator, because it gives prospective comics creators and educators a solid foundation on which to build.


Reinventing Comics: The Evolution of an Art Form

By Scott McCloud,

Book cover of Reinventing Comics: The Evolution of an Art Form

Why this book?

While there are many good books out there on the craft of understanding, writing, and making comics, my suggestion for what to read establishes a bedrock on which careers can be built. Scott’s follow-up book to Understanding Comics continues to explore how comics work, and how they can work. In short, he just doesn’t define the sandbox in which you can play; he shows you how to expand the sandbox so that you can do things that have never been done before.


Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels

By Scott McCloud,

Book cover of Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels

Why this book?

The subtitle to Making Comics is: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels. In this book, Scott gets practical, and shows you how to apply what you learned from his previous volumes. In his introduction, he writes, “The comics industry is changing fast. Old formats die and new ones are born. Whole industries come and go. But these storytelling principles always apply. They mattered fifty years ago and they’ll matter fifty years from now.” To quote Stan Lee, ‘nuff said.


Comics and Sequential Art: Principles and Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist

By Will Eisner,

Book cover of Comics and Sequential Art: Principles and Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist

Why this book?

Eisner was a comics and graphic novel pioneer, first by his work on his classic creation, The Spirit, and then with his graphic novels. Eisner offers valuable, personal, professional, and practical insights into how the sequential art medium can be tailored to your intentions. In his foreword, he writes: “This work is intended to consider and examine the unique aesthetics of sequential art as a means of creative expression, a distinct discipline, an art and literary form that deals with the arrangement of pictures or images and words to narrate a story or dramatize an idea.”


Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative: Principles and Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist

By Will Eisner,

Book cover of Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative: Principles and Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist

Why this book?

In his foreword, Eisner writes: “In this work, I hope to deal with the mission and process of storytelling with graphics.” Where McCloud shows you different options and tools for how to choose images to explore ideas, Eisner gets specific, and shows you how he does it. This book, along with the four others I recommend, and mine, gives you all the tools you need to choose your own path for effectively working as a writer and/or artist in the sequential art medium.  


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in comics, cartoons, and Japan?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about comics, cartoons, and Japan.

Comics Explore 111 books about comics
Cartoons Explore 21 books about cartoons
Japan Explore 318 books about Japan

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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