Part comic book, part course curriculum, and part self-help book, Making Comics by Lynda Barry can show and teach you to see stories in simple drawings. And how to make those drawings yourself!
Lynda Barry is a cartoonist, author, and teacher, and Making Comics reads as if you were a student in her comics class. Barry teaches us how to draw without judgment by showing us that the drawings we made as kids were simplistic – but we knew what they were! That yellow circle thing is the sun, and that blue scribbled line is a river, and those green hatch marks are trees. As adults, we’ve lost that sense of perception.
Making Comics had been on my wishlist ever since Austin Kleon recommended it in his newsletter. (Kleon is an author whose books are about creativity in today’s world. I highly recommend his books to anyone in a creative field, especially Steal Like an Artist.) I recently saw Making Comics at my local B&N and decided it’s about time I read it. My job demands perfection (graphic designer/copywriter for a community bank), but I came to the realization recently that I need to accept imperfection in my personal projects and hobbies. Perfection made them unenjoyable. I didn’t understand why I was forcing my fun art/photography to be so professional. My goal is to learn to see what is there, not what I think should be there – and Barry helps teach this. (Extending this idea into my Cannonball reviews will help me meet my goal too!)
Barry’s exercises have time constraints – from 1 minute and up – to train you to stop thinking and start creating. One of my favorite instructions from Barry is, “Don’t figure it out before you draw it. Let it happen like it’s something you are watching through a window.” You start with simple ideas and creative ice breakers. My current favorite thing to do when I’m stuck on something – draw Batman. All the lessons culminate in creating your own comics zine.
While I’ve read all of Making Comics, I have not completed the exercises. But I am adding drawings into my planners to showcase events.
My daughter and I have also enjoyed doing speed drawings where you draw something – we did baby Yoda – in 1 minute, then 50 seconds, then 40, 30, 25, 20, 15, 10, and finally 5. The drawings go from elaborate to simple, and it still looks like baby Yoda at 5 seconds.
Making Comics is a book I will reference, reread, practice too, and I highly recommend it! Anyone and everyone can reignite the child-like enjoyment of drawing.