Tuesday, 19 February 2019

How to Draw Comics by Ilya, reviewed by Chitra Soundar

I grew up reading comics. Read more about that story here.  So I’ve a fascination with telling stories in that format. When I lived in Singapore, I worked with a local publisher – Asiapac Books, who converted some of my stories embedded within the non-fiction book into comic strips. A sort of dream come true.

Recently with my nephews growing up and wanting to introduce comic books to them, I did two things:

First, I got them a copy of the Akissi digest. It’s one of my favourite series, that’s not dissimilar to the “Jamela” picture books , reviewed here  and the Anna Hibiscus stories reviewed here by Sarah Hammond, but in comic form.

The second step was to buy a How-To Book. The book I landed on was – How to Draw Comics by Ilya, by Michael O’Mara Books. It’s a master class in storytelling through drawings and at the same time, teaching us the grammar of comic books.

The thing I liked about this book was that it started with the basics for someone like me. From terminology to conventions – how do you tell the story, in which order, do you go left to right? Does it need to be funny?

It does get technical as you go further – from which pens, how to use a drawing tablet to how to draw faces, action elements of the story to how to show character.

For me it’s almost like two birds in one stone – I can learn visual storytelling while my nephew and I can together explore how he can learn to create his own comic books.

And if you want something for young kids to start off drawing, try this one too! Written by the amazing Loui Stowell and illustrated by a team of wonderful illustrators, it’s a stepping stone to more complicated stuff and of course half-term fun.

With a full disclaimer on “I can’t draw”, here is my first attempt at a cartoon cat in comic strip form to show you that I'm learning from these books, albeit slowly. 
Oscar the Cat by Chitra Soundar

Chitra Soundar is an Indian-born British writer of children's books. She has written over 40 books for children and often visits schools to teach creative writing. Find out more at www.chitrasoundar.com or follow her on Twitter @csoundar.


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