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Words for Pictures: A Book Review

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

As a child, the first book I recall getting my hands on about the comic book industry was How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way. After I got out of law school, I got my hands on Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. The first book exposed me to comics as a technical skill and not just a bunch of cool pictures. The second book reintroduced me to comics as an art form and not just a childish obsession. Words for Pictures is a book on the same level. It describes the creative and practical aspects of comics as a business and belongs on the radar of anyone with any interest in the medium.

Brian Michael Bendis is an award winning writer who has worked on seminal franchises including Spider-Man, X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s also had success with his own original titles including Powers, Torso and Scarlet. Bendis brings years of experience to Words, walking an aspiring creator through major aspects of the writing business including:

  • The motivations for writing
  • The form and function of the script
  • Collaboration with editors and artists and;
  • Protecting your business interests

Bendis doesn’t just rely on his own perspective for this book. He adds the insights from dozens of top writers, artists and editors to create a behind the scenes look into the business that is now driving the blockbuster movie industry. One of the most important lessons in the book gets a chapter to itself. Bendis advises anyone and everyone who gets into comics on any level to protect their creative investment by seeking out and listening to lawyers and accountants when it comes to handling their career.

Even if you’re not interesting in writing comic books, Words for Pictures still has value. If you’re a writer on any level, the advice he offers transcends the comic book page and extends out to novelists, playwrights and screenwriters. If you simply love iconic artwork, Words is filled with art from some of the top comic book artists of the past and present. In the same way you don’t have to read comics to enjoy comic book movies, you can enjoy Words for Pictures without trying to be the next Walt Simonson of Brian Michael Bendis.

Have fun.