The How-To Guide to Comics

    Links about how to cartoon, self-publish or both.

    PLEASE NOTE: The How-To Guide is no longer being maintained. I'm putting it back on the web since I've received a couple of requests, but I'm no longer adding to the How-To Guide, nor am I fixing dead links.

    Despite that, much of the information here is useful, and the internal links will never go bad.

    Site created by Ampersand. Last updated November 1999.

    The purpose of this site isn't to include every comics-creation-related website that's out there, but only the ones that I believe are especially useful. If you have a comment about the "How-To Guide," please email me. Special thanks to Ishmael Hope for all his help.


Links for Artists

    If you're an absolute, utter beginner, here's some advice on getting started.

    The Cartoonist's Materials FAQ is an overview of the basic tools of the trade, for both comic strips and books. Includes info on paper size.

    Two terrific step-by-step demonstrations of how they do it by real pros: Howard Cruse's How One Wendel Strip Was Created (in which Cruse describes both his writing and drawing process), and Gene Fama's detailed description of his process. Fama's page is particularly useful for folks who want to learn about coloring comics with Photoshop.

    John McCleod, creator of Dishman and other terrific small-press comics, has written Tool Talk, outlining the tools o' the trade (it's especially great for lettering), and The Small Press Faq, which has useful information for all cartoonists. Highly recommended.

    A directory of drawing comics info by Rob Davis. Includes sections on pencils, inks, colors and conventions. Well worth reading.

    Bee-chan's beautiful U R Drawing site will be of special interest to cartoonists who want to draw manga-style comics. My favorite part is Bee-chan's copiously illustrated How to Colour with Photoshop page.

     How I Colour on Computer, by Robin Riggs, and Computer Color, Step by Step, by Quinn Supplee. The basics, clearly explained.

    Balloon Tales has excellent information on how to do computer lettering for comics.

    Comic-book lettering fonts available include various fonts by Comicraft (price ranges from $30-$850), Whizbang ($24) and Witzworx, a Shareware font by Ron Evry ($10).

    An exuberant website of coloring-related links has been put together by Scott Ewin.

    Dave Sim's instructional essays on creating comics and self-publishing. Even if you have no interest in self-publishing, this is good reading on art materials and ESSENTIAL reading on "what it takes" to become a professional cartoonist.

    R'ykandar Korra'ti's excellent Art Materials FAQ has tons of information about basic drawing media, with an eye towards how well they age.


Links for Writers

    Marc Fleury's Guide To Writing Comics is a collection of essays for the beginning writer, going through the process right from the start, often focusing on technical questions, such as word balloons and script format. In my opinion, the best comics-writing page out there.

     The Secrets of Writing Comics by James Hudnall. Another collection of essays for the beginning comics writer, these focus more on the "big" writing questions, such as character-building and conflict.

    Essays on how to break into writing comics (mainly for the larger comic book companies) by

  • Dan Chichester,
  • Peter David, and
  • Mark Evanier

    Peter David on "How I Write a Story"


Comic strips

    (Note: this section contains information peculiar to comic strips, but of course much of the general information in other sections, particularly the section on drawing, is also applicable to us strippers.)

     If you're an absolute, utter beginner, here's some advice on getting started.

     A brief guide to submitting a strip to syndicates.

     A list of syndicate addresses.

     Odds and Money, a brief description of the odds against making it, and how much money won't be made.

     An essay on creating comic strips (chiefly on where the ideas come from) by For Better or For Worse creator Lynn Johnson.

     The Cheapening of the Comics, a speech by Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson. Although not a "how-to" lecture, this speech does give a picture of how comic strips are produced and distributed.


Working for comics publishing companies


Self-publishing comics


Small-Press Comics and Zines

    A short, pithy page from Caption that shows exactly how easy it is to create your own mini-comic - or at least, the physical production aspects of it.

    John McCleod, creator of Dishman and other terrific small-press comics, has written The Small Press Faq, which is simply the best discussion of small press comics I've seen on the web.

    Doing Your Own Zine, by Sarah Dyer of Action Girl fame, is a super-fabulous beginner's course for wanna-be zine publishers.



Other Useful Web-Link Pages

    There's lots of overlap between some of these pages and this one, but each contains material that's not on the others, so browse 'em all.

    Pat's Cartoonist's Fountain of Knowlege has a lot of extremely useful information; similar in spirit to my page, but in some ways better (truth hurts), with lots of links I don't have.

    Another good page is Creating Comics, maintained by comics writer Dave Law. Again, similar in spirit to this page but sometimes better, with lots of new links.

    The British comics site Caption includes an enjoyably eclectic collection of essays on crafting comics, Pencil and Paper.

    Mike Fragassi's page on resources for comic creators is but a small part of his excellent Alternative Comics WWW Guide.

    Tools for Creators is a page similar to this one, but with resources for creators in search of collaborators, and various discussion boards.

    It was via Tools for Creators that I found the Comics as a Career Archive, which has many useful text pieces, mostly from USENET discussion groups.


Miscellaneous Resources

A list of recommended books for comics creators.
The US Copyright Office homepage - lots of good information about copyrights here. (Well, duh.) You may also want to check out the NEA's page on copyrights, including their FAQ.
A very brief outline of the very basics of copyrighting comics.

| Top of page | Drawing | Writing | Comic strips |
| Working for comic book publishing companies | Self-publishing comics |
| Small-Press Comics and Zines | Other useful web-link pages |
| Miscellaneous information | Email Ampersand | Ampersand's homepage