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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Draw Out The Story, by Brian McLachlan. Owlkids, 2013. $9.95 ages 9 and up

"You have five senses. Pictures show sight and texture. Sound effects and word balloons show sound. You can use words for smell and taste, but you can also use icons instead. If you put some wavy lines and suggestive icons
by something, they tell the reader that's what it smells like. Without icons, wavy lines either mean steam or suggest something that is stinky."

The subtitle reads, Ten Secrets to Creating Your Own Comics. Brian McLachlan certainly delivers on that promise. If you are a beginner wanting to learn how to draw comics and create stories, this is the book for you!

In a book meant to encourage readers to try their hand at graphic storytelling, Brian McLachlan opens with a discussion of “comics grammar” (explaining conventions like speech balloons, panels, and caption boxes), then moves into a discussion of styles and genres, and how to use detail and color to focus on the importance of story:

"Deciding which details to use and which to leave out is part of the art of making comics. If you sketch enough, you'll get better at putting the right details on the right shapes to make awesome comics."

He offers great ideas for improving skill with detail in a series of exercises that is part of the Your Turn section that follows each secret chapter. I found them to be very enlightening and helpful. Then, he moves on to show budding cartoonists how to use shapes and those details to give personality to the images being created.

This guide is practical; more than that, it is great fun! Easily accessible for his intended audience, he ensures that readers come away with a real sense of the art of creating graphic stories and adventures. I think that choosing to divide his book into ten 'secret' chapters allows time for his readers to digest all of the information provided in each one. He encourages both written work and accompanying artwork through his many examples. He offers an abundance of follow-up exercises for his readers to try at the end of every chapter. They are sure to find their own personal way of storytelling through graphic means...and that is a good thing.

The unique and informative table of contents informs readers of the ten secrets prior to sitting down to enjoy the riches within this book's pages:

"Comics let you SHOW and TELL.

There are three parts to presenting a comic.

Simple art DOESN'T equal simple stories.

DETAILS  make the difference.

Let the PERSONALITY shine.

Take it ONE MOMENT at a time.

Know your TOOLS.

You need more than one GOOD IDEA.

There are two ways to build a story.

Go BEYOND the normal."

Now, the fun can begin! 

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