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Comics Confidential: Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box

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A must-have collection for comics fans and creators everywhere, packed with interviews and original comics by today’s foremost graphic novelists. Respected anthologist Leonard S. Marcus turns his literary microscope to the world of comics, which has lately morphed and matured at a furious pace. Powerful influences from manga to the movies to underground comix have influence A must-have collection for comics fans and creators everywhere, packed with interviews and original comics by today’s foremost graphic novelists. Respected anthologist Leonard S. Marcus turns his literary microscope to the world of comics, which has lately morphed and matured at a furious pace. Powerful influences from manga to the movies to underground comix have influenced the thirteen artists and writers interviewed in these pages to create their own word-and-picture narratives. Here are their moving, funny, inspirational stories: true tales from the crucible of creative struggles that led each to become a master of one of today’s most vibrant art forms. The book also contains an original graphic short on the common theme of "the city" from each of the artists, a mini-comic set in a cityscape of their choosing—present-day, historical, or imaginary. Featuring interviews with: Harry Bliss Catia Chien Geoffrey Hayes Kazu Kibuishi Hope Larson Danica Novgorodoff Matt Phelan Dave Roman Mark and Siena Cherson Siegel James Sturm Sara Varon Gene Luen Yang


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A must-have collection for comics fans and creators everywhere, packed with interviews and original comics by today’s foremost graphic novelists. Respected anthologist Leonard S. Marcus turns his literary microscope to the world of comics, which has lately morphed and matured at a furious pace. Powerful influences from manga to the movies to underground comix have influence A must-have collection for comics fans and creators everywhere, packed with interviews and original comics by today’s foremost graphic novelists. Respected anthologist Leonard S. Marcus turns his literary microscope to the world of comics, which has lately morphed and matured at a furious pace. Powerful influences from manga to the movies to underground comix have influenced the thirteen artists and writers interviewed in these pages to create their own word-and-picture narratives. Here are their moving, funny, inspirational stories: true tales from the crucible of creative struggles that led each to become a master of one of today’s most vibrant art forms. The book also contains an original graphic short on the common theme of "the city" from each of the artists, a mini-comic set in a cityscape of their choosing—present-day, historical, or imaginary. Featuring interviews with: Harry Bliss Catia Chien Geoffrey Hayes Kazu Kibuishi Hope Larson Danica Novgorodoff Matt Phelan Dave Roman Mark and Siena Cherson Siegel James Sturm Sara Varon Gene Luen Yang

30 review for Comics Confidential: Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box

  1. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Great authors/artists. Loved the fact that almost all of them answered "horses" when asked what they have a hard time drawing.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I see the appeal for serious comics fans or those who are interested in the backend of comics or how to get into the business. Otherwise, the interview format isn't super appealing to casual readers, and there's no real narrative thread running through to keep a reader going forward. The introduction doesn't do it, and neither does the forward by Small (who, wow, was irritating about the fact critics discussed the classification of his book when it was nominated for the National Book Awards -- s I see the appeal for serious comics fans or those who are interested in the backend of comics or how to get into the business. Otherwise, the interview format isn't super appealing to casual readers, and there's no real narrative thread running through to keep a reader going forward. The introduction doesn't do it, and neither does the forward by Small (who, wow, was irritating about the fact critics discussed the classification of his book when it was nominated for the National Book Awards -- stay out of that shit since it's not for you, dude). Not much in the way of comics in here, and the time spent talking about the comics included is minimal.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Clark

    Such a fab summary of comics history for newbies and enough detail and inspiration for people who want to know the inner workings of my fave artists. Cannot wait to share this with my GN Club!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Billie

    A great group of creators, though I hope there's a sequel focusing on some of the creators conspicuous by their absence: Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, Matt and Jennifer Holm, Cece Bell, Noelle Stephenson, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, James Kochalka, Faith Erin Hicks, etc. Some of the editing on the interviews made them read a little awkwardly, but young readers probably won't care because they'll be too excited to be reading about their favorite creators.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sunah Chung

    Comics/graphic novels are prominent literature to young adults in the contemporary era. Not only young adults but also adults who love reading graphic novels would love to read authors and illustrators’ stories about their career and graphic novels. In this book, interviews by thirteen authors and illustrators tell their stories to audiences in the form of print texts. It was interesting to read about favorite authors’ personal stories. For instance, Sara Varon, who wrote Robot Dreams, interview Comics/graphic novels are prominent literature to young adults in the contemporary era. Not only young adults but also adults who love reading graphic novels would love to read authors and illustrators’ stories about their career and graphic novels. In this book, interviews by thirteen authors and illustrators tell their stories to audiences in the form of print texts. It was interesting to read about favorite authors’ personal stories. For instance, Sara Varon, who wrote Robot Dreams, interviewed that she did not like comics when she grew up. Not every comic writer was born to love reading comics, of course. She found her interest and talents in drawing graphic novels during her life trajectories. She also commented that she was not good at drawing human characters, which explains that her books are full of nonhuman characters. This book is not for young readers but for older readers. Young adults and even adults who are interested in creating comics would love to read through this book to be inspired by contemporary authors and illustrators.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Li Sifan(Liona)

    Comics Confidential: Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box compiled and edited by Leonard Marcus in 2017. This book fully embodies the characteristics of non-fiction books: the theme is clear but the layout format is free. It’s a collection of interviews of 13 different graphic novelists and they each describe how they got into the business. More interestingly, they each discuss why they think there has been such a rise in popularity of the format and how they se Comics Confidential: Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box compiled and edited by Leonard Marcus in 2017. This book fully embodies the characteristics of non-fiction books: the theme is clear but the layout format is free. It’s a collection of interviews of 13 different graphic novelists and they each describe how they got into the business. More interestingly, they each discuss why they think there has been such a rise in popularity of the format and how they see the evolution of it. The book also contains an original graphic short on the common theme of "the city" from each of the artists, a mini-comic set in a cityscape of their choosing—present-day, historical, or imaginary.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Blake Norby

    Definitely not my typical pick, but I really enjoyed the format and subject. It's a collection of interviews of 13 different graphic novelists and they each describe how they got into the business. More interestingly, they each discuss why they think there has been such a rise in popularity of the format and how they see the evolution of it. Of course everyone paid tribute to Maus as paving the way for graphics other than superheroes. The best part of the book, though, was how each artist was gi Definitely not my typical pick, but I really enjoyed the format and subject. It's a collection of interviews of 13 different graphic novelists and they each describe how they got into the business. More interestingly, they each discuss why they think there has been such a rise in popularity of the format and how they see the evolution of it. Of course everyone paid tribute to Maus as paving the way for graphics other than superheroes. The best part of the book, though, was how each artist was given the topic "city" to draw panels for and each interpreted it so differently. It offered a lot of really cool insights into a world I know very little about.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    middlegrade/teen nonfic-- interviews with a diverse bunch of leading artists/illustrators in the graphic book/webcomic format. I was expecting this to be told through more of the artists' work, in graphic format, but I guess they've probably already told a lot of those stories. Instead, we get to sit down and read conversations/interviews between the artists and the writer/editor (with samples of each artists' work). Recommended for kids/teens who are considering a similar career in this expandi middlegrade/teen nonfic-- interviews with a diverse bunch of leading artists/illustrators in the graphic book/webcomic format. I was expecting this to be told through more of the artists' work, in graphic format, but I guess they've probably already told a lot of those stories. Instead, we get to sit down and read conversations/interviews between the artists and the writer/editor (with samples of each artists' work). Recommended for kids/teens who are considering a similar career in this expanding publishing field.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Isaac Thomas

    I recommend this book for high school students who want to know how to break into the comic industry. Other than that, it's pretty lame. The questions were lame, and were presented in the most boring way possible. The interviews were generic questions that the authors/illustrators most likely responded to via email. You could find better interviews with most of these illustrators by Googling them.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emilia P

    How can you make AMAZING cartoonists seem like a snooze? Ask them boring questions. Surround them with less amazing cartoonists. All I learned from this is that man Gene Luen Yang and Sara Varon. I love you guys. You are not boring. Mark Seigel, you....sigh. You're kind of a butt, but where would be without First Second? That's all.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mina

    Okay. So this book, among other things, have convinced me to become a Graphic Novelist. All the interviews were semi-interesting and stuff, but I kind of wish there was more information on HOW the job got done. It was so cool to see all the different styles but also hear that many of the artists had the same ideas about comics.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marcia

    Leonard Marcus interviews some of today's most popular children's and YA graphic novelists. I really enjoyed learning more about how these talented folks came to their careers. Includes an original comic from each.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    A series of thoughtful interviews of modern-day graphic novelists - artists and illustrators and storytellers from David Small to Gene Luen Yang. Fantastic.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Hodgson

    I enjoyed this inside look and realized how many of these writers I know from reading ....

  15. 4 out of 5

    Scott Robins

    Great line-up of creators interviewed in this book - started to get very same-y after a while though. I wish the questions were a little more idiosyncratic.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Edmund Davis-Quinn

    Nice idea but there should have been a lot more on each writer. The profiles and the work seemed too limited.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    I wasn't familiar with any of these author/artists but it was a fascinating way to learn about their process.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    This wasn't the most amazing book in the world, but I read it because my oldest daughter thought I'd like it and because I needed something light after the heaviness of The Radium Girls.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nan Narboe

    The structure of this book is ingenious. Each artist was given the prompt "The City," and each created a graphic response. That way, the reader can browse, and read an interview or not based on her interest in the sample of that artist's work. Good interviews of lively people but I think it's this idea that most appeals to me.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Teenreadsdotcom

    COMICS CONFIDENTIAL: Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box is a series of interviews with 13 comic artists speaking on all manner of subjects from first jobs and artistic techniques to childhood obsessions. Award-winning author, reviewer and essayist Leonard S. Marcus conducts and compiles the interviews. He speaks with artists like Hope Larsen, Sarah Varon, Danica Novgorodoff and Gene Luen Yang, perhaps the biggest name of the bunch. COMICS CONFIDENTIAL isn't an COMICS CONFIDENTIAL: Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box is a series of interviews with 13 comic artists speaking on all manner of subjects from first jobs and artistic techniques to childhood obsessions. Award-winning author, reviewer and essayist Leonard S. Marcus conducts and compiles the interviews. He speaks with artists like Hope Larsen, Sarah Varon, Danica Novgorodoff and Gene Luen Yang, perhaps the biggest name of the bunch. COMICS CONFIDENTIAL isn't an anthology --- it's more like a documentary in which Marcus discovers what makes each artist tick as well as what brought them to their craft. The informative nature of the work very much suits it for academia. It's more of a chronicling than a story. This is more of a resource than entertainment. The book would sit very well in a library, especially at an art school, or as required reading for a history of comics course. The anthropological approach to comics and comics creators is refreshing and continues to build on the trend of validating comics as a high art form. Marcus asks all of his subjects about their childhoods, how they got into comics, who or what their inspirations were and generally what their family life was like. This loose template helps to highlight and compare the differences and similarities in the origins and early lives of comic artists. It is wonderful to follow their early careers and note how unique everyone's journey into comics can be. The nice thing about COMICS CONFIDENTIAL is that all of the artists Marcus interviews have been making images for a long time, but most of them aren't entirely well-known to the average comic book reader. Names like James Sturm, Geoffrey Hayes, Catia Chien, Mark and Siena Cherson Siegel, Harry Bliss and Matt Phelan have all been around for a while but, like everyone else in the book, they fall on the often neglected alternative spectrum of comics. The best thing about the book is that each interview is followed by a short comic from that particular artist. A lot of the works tend to be autobiographical and rather introspective. Dave Roman narrates what it was like growing up in Long Island and the wonders of visiting New York City. Gene Luen Yang also illustrates his expectations of big city life and how the reality of college shattered his comic book-fueled illusions. Kazu Kibuishi relives a day spent in a bustling metropolis. All of the artists contribute short two page stories ranging from a bear leaving the city for the country and a woman finding a feral boy in the park to a block party in a small neighborhood. COMICS CONFIDENTIAL is a straightforward exploration of a selection of non-mainstream comic artists. It appeals to comics historians who are interested in documenting the medium. It will appeal to academics who enjoy a collection of artists works and statements and it also appeals to lovers of alternative and more introspective comics. Leonard Marcus's respect for the medium shows through in this book. COMICS CONFIDENTIAL is a love letter to the comics history. Reviewed by Michael Lee Harris

  21. 4 out of 5

    CD

    Full disclosure: I won this book in a goodreads giveaway. This book focuses on the writers of comics and the how or why they chose to pursue the profession. Each chapter includes an interview with a writer as well as a comic created by that writer based on the author's request to draw "the city". The interviews tend to cover similar material for each writer, making it easy to see how the writer's made decisions that led them down a similar path. For individuals interested in pursuing a career in c Full disclosure: I won this book in a goodreads giveaway. This book focuses on the writers of comics and the how or why they chose to pursue the profession. Each chapter includes an interview with a writer as well as a comic created by that writer based on the author's request to draw "the city". The interviews tend to cover similar material for each writer, making it easy to see how the writer's made decisions that led them down a similar path. For individuals interested in pursuing a career in comics lacking the know-how, this book certainly could be used as a resource. For young readers who are interested in comics and did not realize that it could be a career, this book could serve as an inspiration. And, for those readers of comics that are interested in a little more information about the writers behind some of their favorites, the book is light and enjoyable fare. Because of the choices that the author made about the format, touching on many different writers instead of focusing on one or two, one criticism of the book could be that it lacks depth. But, I think that the goal of the author was to give a brief review of the career paths of many different authors to showcase the differences and similarities. The individual interpretations of "the city" challenges are particularly interesting, since each comic writer/artist filters the challenge through his or her experience to complete the challenge. All in all, this book provides some interesting insight in the minds of comic book writers, albeit just a little bit, and it's value likely lies in inspiring those looking for a career in comics, but not knowing how to get started.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Raechel

    Interesting to learn how graphic novelists work and what brought them to the world of comics and graphics.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sally Sugarman

    This is an informative and engaging book. Looking at thirteen graphic artists whose work is primarily for young people, Marcus interviewed them either in person or on the telephone, asking them about their experiences as children, how they got involved in becoming graphic novelists. Each artist then drew a two page graphic story on the theme of the city. Preliminary sketches of the works are also included so that the reader can get an idea of the process which the artists use. Among the interest This is an informative and engaging book. Looking at thirteen graphic artists whose work is primarily for young people, Marcus interviewed them either in person or on the telephone, asking them about their experiences as children, how they got involved in becoming graphic novelists. Each artist then drew a two page graphic story on the theme of the city. Preliminary sketches of the works are also included so that the reader can get an idea of the process which the artists use. Among the interesting discussions are the different responses about the relationship of graphic novels to film. Although both are visual media, the artists see them as quite different. One of them noted that the graphic novel engaged the imagination as the space between the panels were filled in by the reader and that the time that the panels depicted was quite different from that of film. Another saw the graphic novel being more akin to literature rather than film, not only because one read words, but one read the images differently. There is also a greater variation in the vision of the individual artist than of a collaborative art such as film. The variety of roads each of the artists took was also interesting. Some knew what they wanted to do and studied art, while others were not that clear and had different backgrounds. The distinctiveness of styles was evident in the two page drawings each artist did. This is a rich record of the process of creation in this particular medium.

  24. 4 out of 5

    McKenzie Richardson

    I won a copy of this book from BookRiot. This is a great book for comic and graphic novel lovers. Consisting of thirteen interviews and presented in question-answer format, this book gives some insight into creating graphic novels. Each graphic novelist also created a short comic for the book around a central theme. I loved seeing all of the different styles of art included in the book. The only real drawback for me with this book was that the question-answer format was a little boring to read at t I won a copy of this book from BookRiot. This is a great book for comic and graphic novel lovers. Consisting of thirteen interviews and presented in question-answer format, this book gives some insight into creating graphic novels. Each graphic novelist also created a short comic for the book around a central theme. I loved seeing all of the different styles of art included in the book. The only real drawback for me with this book was that the question-answer format was a little boring to read at times. The interviews were interesting, but I found it best to read an interview, take a break, then read another one. Otherwise, they all kind of blended together. One thing that really resonated with me personally was how many of the artists discussed feeling pigeonholed into superhero comics. They recalled how freeing it was to discover that an artist can create whatever they want with their art. I have always been fascinated with comics and graphic novels, but don't really like the style and representation of superhero comics and I am so thankful that there are so many more options now. Comics are so diverse today, in part, because of the hard work of some of the graphic novelists featured in this book. I loved the emphasis on being yourself and doing what is meaningful to you. Overall, a good read. I recommend to people who enjoy reading or creating comics and graphic novels.

  25. 4 out of 5

    American Mensa

    Inspiring! This book is an intriguing look at thirteen comics and has inspired me to consider my own future as a writer. Leonard Marcus interviews these diverse comics and delves into their varied childhoods and work routines. It was fun to learn about each writer’s different routine and read about how they started writing comics. I would have to say my favorite part was hearing about each writer’s work routine. It made me feel better about not having a strict routine and valuing the space for cr Inspiring! This book is an intriguing look at thirteen comics and has inspired me to consider my own future as a writer. Leonard Marcus interviews these diverse comics and delves into their varied childhoods and work routines. It was fun to learn about each writer’s different routine and read about how they started writing comics. I would have to say my favorite part was hearing about each writer’s work routine. It made me feel better about not having a strict routine and valuing the space for creative minds to work! The comics drawn for this book are also neat to see because each was drawn specifically for the book and all revolve around the same theme. Each of the thirteen writers has a unique take on the theme. Check out this book to see what they came up with! Anyone would love this book, especially kids who read comics and/or aspire to be writers. Review by Mason H. age 14 Denver Mensa

  26. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    A collection of interviews with some of the biggest names working in comics. Each artist was tasked with creating an original comic centered on the theme of "the city," which they explain alongside their influences etc in their individual interviews. The interviews read as much more appealing to librarians, teachers, artists, and children's literature enthusiasts as opposed to holding much appeal for kids. I learned quite a bit about many writers/illustrators, and found the question asking each w A collection of interviews with some of the biggest names working in comics. Each artist was tasked with creating an original comic centered on the theme of "the city," which they explain alongside their influences etc in their individual interviews. The interviews read as much more appealing to librarians, teachers, artists, and children's literature enthusiasts as opposed to holding much appeal for kids. I learned quite a bit about many writers/illustrators, and found the question asking each what their biggest weakness was regarding drawing to be the most interesting information included. Any readers wishing to skip around and only read the interviews they were most interested in would be just as satisfied as readers who might read this book cover to cover.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lee

    My students will be able to find books by 6 of these 13 graphic novelists in my classroom. There are lots of authors/artists they'd love to read about in a second volume (hint hint): Matt and Jenni Holm, Jarrett Krosoczka, Raina Telgemeier, Doug TenNapel, Ben Hatke, Judd Winick, to name a few. Each of these 13 interviews has a self portrait, begins with some version of "What were you like as a kid?", delves into the artist's creative process, and features a bit of their work. I think the intervie My students will be able to find books by 6 of these 13 graphic novelists in my classroom. There are lots of authors/artists they'd love to read about in a second volume (hint hint): Matt and Jenni Holm, Jarrett Krosoczka, Raina Telgemeier, Doug TenNapel, Ben Hatke, Judd Winick, to name a few. Each of these 13 interviews has a self portrait, begins with some version of "What were you like as a kid?", delves into the artist's creative process, and features a bit of their work. I think the interview format will draw readers in.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jessi

    I think you might really have to be into graphic novels to enjoy this book. I got it on a whim, not having read lot of nonfiction books at the time and was a little disappointed by the format. This is a book where it's a series of questions and answers rather than essays written by the artists themselves. A nice look into the world of graphic novels and the people who create them, but a little hard to read since it doesn't really flow. It was really nice to see examples of the artists work and I' I think you might really have to be into graphic novels to enjoy this book. I got it on a whim, not having read lot of nonfiction books at the time and was a little disappointed by the format. This is a book where it's a series of questions and answers rather than essays written by the artists themselves. A nice look into the world of graphic novels and the people who create them, but a little hard to read since it doesn't really flow. It was really nice to see examples of the artists work and I'll probably still go look some of them up online or find more of their books.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lara

    I'm not going to finish this one. I love the idea of it, and there are some great comic artists included, but the questions they're asked are pretty boring, and I found that after four or five of them they all kind of started to run together. I think I would have preferred more of a free-form format, where each artist could express themselves in a more individual kind of way, or if the questions had actually been a little more challenging. This might still be good for kids who are interested in I'm not going to finish this one. I love the idea of it, and there are some great comic artists included, but the questions they're asked are pretty boring, and I found that after four or five of them they all kind of started to run together. I think I would have preferred more of a free-form format, where each artist could express themselves in a more individual kind of way, or if the questions had actually been a little more challenging. This might still be good for kids who are interested in making comics themselves, though.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Boquiren

    This book documents several phone transcript interviews with award-winning artist/storytellers. The author asks each artist how they got started in the medium, how they became well-known, what motivates them to write, and what their daily schedule looks like. Each response is as unique and varied as each individual. What I've learned from reading the book is that there is no set path to becoming a graphic novelist. What it does take is a love of the medium and a willingness to invest the time an This book documents several phone transcript interviews with award-winning artist/storytellers. The author asks each artist how they got started in the medium, how they became well-known, what motivates them to write, and what their daily schedule looks like. Each response is as unique and varied as each individual. What I've learned from reading the book is that there is no set path to becoming a graphic novelist. What it does take is a love of the medium and a willingness to invest the time and effort to work on the craft.

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