The Business of Comics: book review on Brian Michael Bendis’s “Words for Pictures”

This review is on a complimentary book I recieved from I chose the book, and the thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.

For this book review, I chose Brian Michael Bendis’s “Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels.” I’m not planning to write for comics anytime soon, but I chose the book because it is a recent publication (July 2014) and is pop culture relevant for all the influence comics are displaying these days. Plus, it’s GetPopCultured week at Barnes and Noble and I’m reading Bryan Lee O’Malley’s “Seconds” in addition to this read. I’m just in a comic based type of mood these days.

Bendis is a big name writer in comics and has worked on such notable titles as Ultimate Spiderman and the currently trending “Guardians of the Galaxy.” If you are looking to take advice from someone in the business, Bendis seems like a good mentor.

As your mentor, the first thing Bendis says in Words for Pictures is that he doesn’t want you to write like him. He wants you to write like you. Also, he wants you to write a lot. Every day. He’s going to be tough on you for these 200 pages as your guide through what it’s like to write for comics, but also he believes in you.

In Words for Pictures, Bendis shows us the nuts and bolts look at creating comics. He never downplays that creativity and art are important in the business, but he says that the business aspect of it is just as important as the art…if not more. For every Bendis in the industry, there are 1000 other great writers and artists that will never get published. To this effect he covers the business from front to back, bringing in artists, comic executives and even a savvy co-business owner (his wife) to write alongside him.

Page 14 offers the best description of why writers write. Spot on. I won’t ruin it for you.Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction show up as well as 14 other artists who write on writers of the industry. It makes sense to include this, and to have artists pulling a lot of the load of this book because…artists are a big part of comics. If you are writing for comics, you are more than likely going to have to collaborate with artists more often than not.

One of the writers I most respect is Neil Gaiman, and he’s a shining example of writers crossing over into comics, and how great having a good writer with talented artists can be. An artist for his “Death” graphic novel, answers some questions for Bendis in one section of this book as well. He confirms (like every other interview I’ve ever read) that Gaiman is a delightful human to meet and work with.

This book has everything you are looking for if you love comics, are curious about the process of how comics come into being, or want to break into comics yourself. It’s written for your average Peter Parker type, and defines all the terms that may trip you up. Plus, the artwork included on every single page is gorgeous. Bendis brags in one sections that the “business of comics” chapter is worth the $25 cover price alone. Maybe so, if that’s what you’re looking for, but I would purchase this just to have these beautiful comic prints.

Bottom line: the book is full of good advice for writers in any medium and will thrill comic fans. Worth owning.


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