GI Joe maestro (and all around comics renaissance man) Larry Hama posted these on FB the other day. I stole them so we could talk about them.
These are my ten rules for drawing a comic book page, that sums up what I have learned in forty odd years in the biz. They are not universal, they are my own personal guidelines, so there is nothing to disagree about.
1. Don’t have people just standing there.
2. ANY expression is better than a blank stare.
3. Avoid tangents, and any straight line that divides the panel.
4. If you use an odd angle in the shot, there has to be a reason for it.
5. If you don’t have at least one panel on each page with a full figure, your “camera” is too close.
6. Plan out your shots in “Lawrence of Arabia” mode rather than in “General Hospital” mode.
7. Don’t think of backgrounds as “things to fill up the space after the figures are drawn.”
8. If you know what something is called, and you have an Internet connection, there is no reason to draw it inaccurately.
9. If the colorist has to ask if a scene takes place at night, you haven’t done your job.
10. If you can’t extend the drawing beyond the panel borders and still have it make visual sense, you’ve cheated on the perspective
For comparison, here’s a page by Hama from John Carter, Warlord of Mars #28 (for my taste the heavy inks by Riccardo Villagren are aimed at making this look more like Gil Kane, which is weird.0
And Marvel Premiere #18, inked by Dick Giordano.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.