Review: Maker Comics Draw a Comic
The Maker Comics series put out by First Second is a series of titles that allow readers to learn a new skill or brush up on a skill they already have. There are countless how-to books out in stores and libraries, but while some are heavily illustrated, most are not comic form.
Maker Comic Comics: Draw a Comic
By JP Coovert
2019. First Second. $20
Grades 5 and up
If you’re thinking this is another “how to draw a comic” book, then you’re mistaken. This title goes beyond the drawing because it mostly teaches readers how to lay out a comic and how they can reproduce and distribute their own comics. (Much like zines back in the day.)
Using a story as a backdrop, where the reader is being hired as a library assistant, Maggie talks to the audience and draws them into the story. She is in charge of the library of comics her grandfather left behind. Dr. Carl comes along and claims he has bought the land the building that’s on it. He wants to turn it into a parking lot. Maggie goes on a quest with her dog to find the treasure that might save the library, taking her assistant (the reader) along, all the while teaching readers how to write and create a comic.
Unlike Adventures in Cartooning, this story doesn’t focus on drawing, and as with many nonfiction titles, the telling can get a bit stale. There are lots of details that might bore those who aren’t avid comics makers, like the detailed choice of pens used to ink a comic. Still, the story helps move the instructions along in most places and the details are there for a purpose.
The artwork is lively. Bright colors jump off the page. I love the purple hair. And while the different characters aren’t all that interesting story-wise, they are fun art-wise. For the most part, this is a book of instructions. A How-To.
I asked my 10-year-old what he thought. While he has not interested in drawing his own comic (he loves reading them), he did enjoy the format. He liked how the story took you through the how-tos, and he found the technique interesting. He particularly liked the idea of the T-Ruler. For kids who want to draw and produce their own comics, this is a great how-to manual.
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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