How to Draw a Graphic Novel


For all our multi-talented children and teens of color out there -- if you are a writer or a comic-lover, you will love your copy of How to Draw a Graphic Novel, by Balthazar Pagani. The moment you open the first pages you will be drawn to the clever, colorful, can’t-put-this-book-down appeal of this essential “how-to” book for creatives.

After defining what graphic novels are (“a self-contained story told in comic form”), readers are whisked backward in time to examine the history of graphic novels. Did you know that comics became successful in the US during the 1930s? And did you know that comics, or “manga,” as they are known in Japan, date back to the 18th Century? It’s true! And in Europe, the first graphic novel, penned by on Rodolphe Topffer, debuted in 1827.

Author Pagani wastes no time guiding readers toward producing a great graphic novel. First, he asks them to decide whether they’re an artist or a writer… or both. Then there are quick lessons in copyright basics, printing and binding, and even how to save files in a digital format. Beyond this, readers interested in learning to write graphic novels learn to use “good working methods” to produce the best book they can. They also learn to research their subject and find and practice their own drawing style in order to create harmony between the words and the images.

Once this crash-course is out of the way, future graphic novelists are schooled on the various layout styles, including panels and balloons. They learn how to create their own font, and are given a list of “essential tools” for becoming a graphic novelist. These tools include pencils, watercolors, felt pens, drawing boards, graphic tablets, etc.

This book almost has too many tips and features to mention. There are tips for drawing characters and scenery. Tips on lettering and layouts. There’s a section explaining what a storyboard is and why you need one, and there are also gems of knowledge about inking and coloring. Of course, no great instructor would forget to offer lessons on proofreading, keeping deadlines, getting published, and making it into international comic book fairs. All of this information is presented in straightforward and fast-paced prose that will keep readers turning the pages. However, the prose may be a better fit for upper elementary, middle grade, and even young adult students. That being said, Mr. Pagani’s illustrations are so rich in color and inviting in nature, they are sure to be enjoyed by ALL ages.

Use this book as supplemental reading in language or art classes. Comic-lovers can also use it to learn about their favorite cult creators, including Will Eisner, Jackie Ormes, Osamu Tezuka, and more. Enjoy!

**This review also appears on our Sister Site - Picture Book Depot -


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here