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The bestselling, idiosyncratic curriculum from a 2019 MacArthur Fellow will teach you how to draw and write your story “The self-help book of the year.”—The New York Times Hello students, meet Professor Skeletor. Be on time, don’t miss class, and turn off your phones. No time for introductions, we start drawing right away. The goal is more rock, less talk, and we communicate The bestselling, idiosyncratic curriculum from a 2019 MacArthur Fellow will teach you how to draw and write your story “The self-help book of the year.”—The New York Times Hello students, meet Professor Skeletor. Be on time, don’t miss class, and turn off your phones. No time for introductions, we start drawing right away. The goal is more rock, less talk, and we communicate only through images. For more than five years the cartoonist Lynda Barry has been an associate professor in the University of Wisconsin–Madison art department and at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, teaching students from all majors, both graduate and undergraduate, how to make comics, how to be creative, how to not think. There is no academic lecture in this classroom. Doodling is enthusiastically encouraged. Making Comics is the follow-up to Barry's bestselling Syllabus, and this time she shares all her comics-making exercises. In a new hand-drawn syllabus detailing her creative curriculum, Barry has students drawing themselves as monsters and superheroes, convincing students who think they can’t draw that they can, and, most important, encouraging them to understand that a daily journal can be anything so long as it is hand drawn. Barry teaches all students and believes everyone and anyone can be creative. At the core of Making Comics is her certainty that creativity is vital to processing the world around us.


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The bestselling, idiosyncratic curriculum from a 2019 MacArthur Fellow will teach you how to draw and write your story “The self-help book of the year.”—The New York Times Hello students, meet Professor Skeletor. Be on time, don’t miss class, and turn off your phones. No time for introductions, we start drawing right away. The goal is more rock, less talk, and we communicate The bestselling, idiosyncratic curriculum from a 2019 MacArthur Fellow will teach you how to draw and write your story “The self-help book of the year.”—The New York Times Hello students, meet Professor Skeletor. Be on time, don’t miss class, and turn off your phones. No time for introductions, we start drawing right away. The goal is more rock, less talk, and we communicate only through images. For more than five years the cartoonist Lynda Barry has been an associate professor in the University of Wisconsin–Madison art department and at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, teaching students from all majors, both graduate and undergraduate, how to make comics, how to be creative, how to not think. There is no academic lecture in this classroom. Doodling is enthusiastically encouraged. Making Comics is the follow-up to Barry's bestselling Syllabus, and this time she shares all her comics-making exercises. In a new hand-drawn syllabus detailing her creative curriculum, Barry has students drawing themselves as monsters and superheroes, convincing students who think they can’t draw that they can, and, most important, encouraging them to understand that a daily journal can be anything so long as it is hand drawn. Barry teaches all students and believes everyone and anyone can be creative. At the core of Making Comics is her certainty that creativity is vital to processing the world around us.

30 review for Making Comics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Well...I finished reading this, but that's not really the point. This is Lynda Barry's actual course curriculum for making comics. Did I do any of the exercises? I did not. Will report back if/when I get laid off for coronavirus reasons. Well...I finished reading this, but that's not really the point. This is Lynda Barry's actual course curriculum for making comics. Did I do any of the exercises? I did not. Will report back if/when I get laid off for coronavirus reasons.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Charles Hatfield

    A trove of ideas and exercises, invaluable to teachers and students alike, and drawn and designed with Barry's expected handmade immediacy. Delightful to page through and learn from. More than simply a wonderful practical resource, this should be recognized as another installment in Barry's ongoing theorizing about the nature of storytelling and narrative drawing. She is on to something important. A trove of ideas and exercises, invaluable to teachers and students alike, and drawn and designed with Barry's expected handmade immediacy. Delightful to page through and learn from. More than simply a wonderful practical resource, this should be recognized as another installment in Barry's ongoing theorizing about the nature of storytelling and narrative drawing. She is on to something important.

  3. 5 out of 5

    M Aghazarian

    Lovely. Everyone can make comics

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth A

    A treasure trove of inspiration, ideas, and creative play. I tend to love her books, so was not surprised that this one delighted me. This is the curriculum for a class she teaches, but don't be fooled by the title. It's is not just for people interested in making comics, but for anyone interested in paying deeper attention to one's daily life. I am so inspired, and might actually bump this up a star once I go back through and actually do the exercises. A treasure trove of inspiration, ideas, and creative play. I tend to love her books, so was not surprised that this one delighted me. This is the curriculum for a class she teaches, but don't be fooled by the title. It's is not just for people interested in making comics, but for anyone interested in paying deeper attention to one's daily life. I am so inspired, and might actually bump this up a star once I go back through and actually do the exercises.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jaina Bee

    i love Lynda Barry. This book is a treasure. What more can i say?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    There's definitely some overlap with Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor, but Making Comics has many, many more exercises for, you guessed it, making comics. There's definitely some overlap with Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor, but Making Comics has many, many more exercises for, you guessed it, making comics.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Linda Robinson

    Superb book. Open it anywhere, and you will find an exercise to get your creative mojo bossa novaing. Drawing with your eyes closed, with both hands simultaneously. Story prompts that will launch a new adventure you didn't know you were going to have. Your drawings can meet you. The whole book is a comics practice, with supplies recommended (I need to get a Staedtler nonphoto blue pencil). In fact, the book is drawn as a composition book. Meta engaging. The book is also a creative practice. Wheth Superb book. Open it anywhere, and you will find an exercise to get your creative mojo bossa novaing. Drawing with your eyes closed, with both hands simultaneously. Story prompts that will launch a new adventure you didn't know you were going to have. Your drawings can meet you. The whole book is a comics practice, with supplies recommended (I need to get a Staedtler nonphoto blue pencil). In fact, the book is drawn as a composition book. Meta engaging. The book is also a creative practice. Whether you want to make comics, write fiction or nonfiction, paint with watercolor, mud or celestial dust, there is something in this magic book that will start you on the journey. I already recommended it to one person who asked what book I thought an arty youngster might enjoy, and to a friend who thought her grown comics son might like it, too. Whatever level of skill, age, or dimension - this book is a carnival of ideas.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Fabulous. Good chance I bump this up to 5 stars after I do the exercises. One tiny gripe: she lists some needed supplies at the beginning but not all of them. For example, she doesn’t tell you to procure a non-photo-blue pencil until the exercise it’s needed in. Perhaps I’ll update this review with a comprehensive supplies list once I’ve made it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    TaraShea Nesbit

    I love this book. You might think it is about making comics, but it is also about attending to yourself and the world, about making a life and holding on to that 4 y/o self's imagination, warbly line, expression. I love this book. You might think it is about making comics, but it is also about attending to yourself and the world, about making a life and holding on to that 4 y/o self's imagination, warbly line, expression.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    Lynda Barry's Syllabus shows Barry's first steps at a curriculum for comic-making; her work of five-years as a professor at a university comes to fruition here in Making Comics. She encourages all the necessary tasks: loosening up students; allowing students to set aside judgment about good and bad art; drawing a lot; drawing badly; breaking down a story into panels; using simple forms. I think this is the book for those who might want to create comics. Lynda Barry's Syllabus shows Barry's first steps at a curriculum for comic-making; her work of five-years as a professor at a university comes to fruition here in Making Comics. She encourages all the necessary tasks: loosening up students; allowing students to set aside judgment about good and bad art; drawing a lot; drawing badly; breaking down a story into panels; using simple forms. I think this is the book for those who might want to create comics.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    This is such an interesting, inspiring, insightful book. I appreciate both the specific drawing and writing exercises in it as well as Barry’s own musings on and explanations of the relationships between drawing, creativity, images, and the mind. There’s great stuff here.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Story

    With each book, Barry further refines her thinking and teaching. I loved reading this and will continue to practice the exercises--not only the art exercises, but also the way of thinking and noticing and being.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne

    Loved this and hope I can get myself to start on the exercises soon!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    Excellent excellent excellent. I enjoyed this so much. It's a teaching memoir; a philosophy of comics, teaching, and art; an exercise book; a classroom textbook. Barry does so many things in just 200 pages, and I found myself inspired on multiple levels. I'm looking forward to sharing this one with friends. While I am one of those people who have "given up on art," I think I'll try my hand at these exercises! At this point in my life, I give no sh*ts if something is "good" or "bad." So it should Excellent excellent excellent. I enjoyed this so much. It's a teaching memoir; a philosophy of comics, teaching, and art; an exercise book; a classroom textbook. Barry does so many things in just 200 pages, and I found myself inspired on multiple levels. I'm looking forward to sharing this one with friends. While I am one of those people who have "given up on art," I think I'll try my hand at these exercises! At this point in my life, I give no sh*ts if something is "good" or "bad." So it should be fun.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tena Edlin

    I finally finished the latest Lynda Barry book, and it is full of great activities and lessons for me to use in my Cartoons, Comics, and Graphic Novels unit. She has such a great way of making everyone feel like an artist and helping everyone channel that creative, fearless child in all of us. This book made me think of how I can reintroduce journaling back into my GOAL classes, but in a different way.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Peacegal

    Kids love to draw, and are exuberant about depicting their world and imagination in pencil and crayons. Most adults give up drawing, thinking they're "no good at it." Lynda Barry has created a book for these drawing-averse adults, hoping to help them recapture the joy of the hobby. For that audience, I give this one 5 stars. For myself, I have never given up drawing, so I don't really need that constant goading, BUT there are some great ideas for drawing and story prompts here! Kids love to draw, and are exuberant about depicting their world and imagination in pencil and crayons. Most adults give up drawing, thinking they're "no good at it." Lynda Barry has created a book for these drawing-averse adults, hoping to help them recapture the joy of the hobby. For that audience, I give this one 5 stars. For myself, I have never given up drawing, so I don't really need that constant goading, BUT there are some great ideas for drawing and story prompts here!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    WSJ list of diverting books: "This combination of memoir and cartoon-drawing workbook is perfect just to read, but even more fun if you’ve ever desired to learn to draw. Who better to guide you than Lynda Barry, the legendary cartoonist always attuned to finding beauty in even the ugliest of sketches?" WSJ list of diverting books: "This combination of memoir and cartoon-drawing workbook is perfect just to read, but even more fun if you’ve ever desired to learn to draw. Who better to guide you than Lynda Barry, the legendary cartoonist always attuned to finding beauty in even the ugliest of sketches?"

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cory Busse

    This is a terrific book. For anyone who's ever wanted to write. To draw. It's a stylized and densely populated primer on both. It's as much a joy to look at as it is to read, and even if you never do a single one of the dozens (hundreds?) of exercises in it, you'll appreciate how much love went into crafting them, and how much fun you might have if you decided to try. This is a keeper to go back to again and again for inspiration, to get creatively unstuck or just to mix up the doodles that you' This is a terrific book. For anyone who's ever wanted to write. To draw. It's a stylized and densely populated primer on both. It's as much a joy to look at as it is to read, and even if you never do a single one of the dozens (hundreds?) of exercises in it, you'll appreciate how much love went into crafting them, and how much fun you might have if you decided to try. This is a keeper to go back to again and again for inspiration, to get creatively unstuck or just to mix up the doodles that you're making while you're ignoring all those Zoom calls.

  19. 5 out of 5

    James

    Tremendous inspiration for anyone interested in doodling with comics. Lynda Barry provides a range of fun, engaging creative exercises. More than that, though, she shares her passion for the medium itself, evoking the magic that can be made with little scribbles.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Maia Foster-O'Neal

    The beginning of this book is fire, just so great. As someone who works with children, I can corroborate all of the points Lynda Barry makes about the psychology of art and story as it functions for children. The rest of the book was intriguing, but mostly it just made me wish I could take an actual in-person comics class with Lynda Barry and a bunch of other students.... a lot of the exercises and assignments are ones that really require a legit group of people for the full experience.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    A well-timed read for me

  22. 5 out of 5

    kate j

    i want to make art!! the way lynda barry makes art!!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    I read an earlier collection of comics by Lynda Barry that I didn't particularly enjoy. Nothing wrong with it — just not my style or something I could relate to. But at the same time that I reserved that book at the library, I also reserved Making Comics, so when it came in, I decided to check it out and give it a go. I'm glad I did because it's nothing like the other book and had content that I didn't expect. It seems Ms. Barry teaches (or has taught) courses in cartooning for complete beginners I read an earlier collection of comics by Lynda Barry that I didn't particularly enjoy. Nothing wrong with it — just not my style or something I could relate to. But at the same time that I reserved that book at the library, I also reserved Making Comics, so when it came in, I decided to check it out and give it a go. I'm glad I did because it's nothing like the other book and had content that I didn't expect. It seems Ms. Barry teaches (or has taught) courses in cartooning for complete beginners at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and this book served as a textbook for that course. The book contains very little about how to master the techniques of drawing. In the beginning, the author discusses the way young children draw and how they sometimes assign meanings to what they draw after they've drawn it. She believes that drawing is a language that we all have within us that is largely untapped. Her objective is to get people to express themselves freely, without letting technical precision get in the way. As a starting point, if a person's drawing skill is still so primitive that he (or she) can draw only stick figures, she suggests drawing a larger round shape for a head and a stumpier shape for a body so it has some substance, and sticks for arms and legs. That way there's something to decorate. There are many increasingly challenging exercises in the book, most of them timed, starting with free drawing, and working up to developing a whole cartoon with covers and a story inside. I didn't do any of the exercises because I'm not taking any such course and it's not my objective to learn to draw cartoons. (Ironically, I used to do a bit of cartooning, and it was actually pretty funny, but for whatever reasons, life got in the way, and it's been a very long time since I've even tried. Maybe I should try again!) I greatly enjoyed Ms. Barry's approach in this book. Her idea is not to develop professional cartoonists or animators or illustrators but to teach students that they can use drawing as a regular tool in their lives to express things they want to say. (The example of local hero James Thurber comes to mind.)

  24. 4 out of 5

    rosamund

    Lynda Barry makes you feel as though you can draw anything. Her pages ideas are imaginative and freeing, and she makes me escape the mindset that I have to create a "good" drawing, and instead lets me work freely in the moment. Her ethos -- to encourage everyone to draw -- is so encouraging, and I really like her openness to all kinds of drawing: by kids, adults' doodles and scribbles, brief sketches and careful designs. However, I found I stalled when I got to the central section of the book, w Lynda Barry makes you feel as though you can draw anything. Her pages ideas are imaginative and freeing, and she makes me escape the mindset that I have to create a "good" drawing, and instead lets me work freely in the moment. Her ethos -- to encourage everyone to draw -- is so encouraging, and I really like her openness to all kinds of drawing: by kids, adults' doodles and scribbles, brief sketches and careful designs. However, I found I stalled when I got to the central section of the book, where the exercises veer more towards writing comics in the form of memoir. I found the exercises less inspiring and more relentless. Barry has a tendency to push you: to use bad tools such as cheap oil crayons so that you will have to labour for hours over a single drawing; to spend huge chunks of time using a cheap pen to create shadow when you could just use a thicker pen; to work every day no matter what. Her approach began to feel constraining and lacking in flexibility. Another aspect of this book that frustrated me is that there are many exercises that require you to work with a class full of people, but obviously I'm not IN a class, and I don't understand why she didn't adapt them when she's not teaching a group.I was also a bit put-off by the absences policy she lists at the beginning of the book: that if you miss three of her classes, you're out. I would never have made it through her class if I was a student with her, and that makes me feel bad. All that being said, this is a positive, imaginative book. It's fun to look at, very open, and full of great ideas. It made me excited about drawing, and was a good companion during lockdown. I may return to it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nela

    I've read this right after Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor , thinking they'll be more different because promos alluded to it being a "sequel". It's not, in fact Making Comics is the instructional book I wanted, while Syllabus was an example of an unusual publishing experiment, but less useful. Making Comics contains all of the exercises that Syllabus does, and more. Many of them are designed for a class environment or practicing with a partner, but most can be adapted for solo pra I've read this right after Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor , thinking they'll be more different because promos alluded to it being a "sequel". It's not, in fact Making Comics is the instructional book I wanted, while Syllabus was an example of an unusual publishing experiment, but less useful. Making Comics contains all of the exercises that Syllabus does, and more. Many of them are designed for a class environment or practicing with a partner, but most can be adapted for solo practice. The instructions feel complete, unlike Syllabus in which part of the information is delivered in the class so book readers are left wondering. So far I've done some warm-up exercises and was surprised at how much fun I've had with them, even though my first thought was "how is this going to help me make comics?" I intend to work through the book and we'll see what happens. I like Barry's writing, and I'd be interested in reading more of her work because some of the wisdom she throws in between the lessons are applicable to any creative pursuit. (My review is based so much on the comparison of the two books because I was trying to decide between them, and I wish I'd known there was so much content overlap before I purchased both.)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Devin

    I read a review about this book, Making Comics, (I can’t remember where the review came from!) and it said that it was perfect if you were needing a pick-me-up regarding your creativity. Or something like that...if you were stuck, get it...it’s good for anyone who is creative. Lynda Barry is an art professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She specializes in comics. The book read like a comic but also like a syllabus, a hand-drawn one!, and a very little bit like a journal article. Ba I read a review about this book, Making Comics, (I can’t remember where the review came from!) and it said that it was perfect if you were needing a pick-me-up regarding your creativity. Or something like that...if you were stuck, get it...it’s good for anyone who is creative. Lynda Barry is an art professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She specializes in comics. The book read like a comic but also like a syllabus, a hand-drawn one!, and a very little bit like a journal article. Barry gave drawing and writing exercises for you to try, along with some examples. She told you the best pens and the best paper for certain exercises, and she talked about how fun it is to draw with little kids because they aren’t afraid of doing it “wrong” which is what plagues adults. The book encourages the Ivan Brunetti style. There was a label on the back that said something similar to “Thinking about giving it another try?” meaning drawing…. I don’t have a desire to make comics, but I would love to get past the idea of doing it (life) wrong. Don’t tell her but I am getting this book for my mom for her birthday. I don’t think she’s stuck artistically, but the exercises seemed fun and interesting. I guess I’ll buy the book for myself when I retire. I think older kids would like it, too….maybe 6th grade + << they’d have to be a self-starter.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Doctor Moss

    Just to get the record straight, I admit I bought this book to have a look at it before committing myself to actually going through it and doing any of the exercises. I wanted to get a feel for it, and I wanted to see if it inspired me. I’m one of the people Lynda Barry seems to prefer as students, somebody who doesn’t know how to draw, thinks they never could draw, and would never want anybody to see any of the demented chicken scratchings they produced and dared to call “drawings.” Her book did Just to get the record straight, I admit I bought this book to have a look at it before committing myself to actually going through it and doing any of the exercises. I wanted to get a feel for it, and I wanted to see if it inspired me. I’m one of the people Lynda Barry seems to prefer as students, somebody who doesn’t know how to draw, thinks they never could draw, and would never want anybody to see any of the demented chicken scratchings they produced and dared to call “drawings.” Her book did light a fire, a little one maybe, but big ones start out as little ones. Her approach is improvisational — don’t think too much, just draw and don’t stop. Lessons are timed, and part of the object is to draw fast, don’t plan, and see what happens. Even when she gets to building stories, the idea is the same. Draw a frame, then, what happens next? Don’t plan it out. A story that follows a script you thought out ahead of time is boring. And, above all, don’t worry about whether or not your drawings and your stories are good. Just keep going. It sounds like fun, but it’s challenging. By the way, you’ll need a decent amount of supplies — particular types of pens, crayons, particular types of paper, a composition book, a “non-photo blue pencil,” index cards. Might be good to get those together before starting.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael Scott

    Who knew a second Making Comics, after the masterwork original by Scott McCloud, could be so good? Because Lynda Barry's book about, well, making comics, just flows. It's also very different, with a focus on creativity that complements McCloud's technical depth. +++ Course about making comics? Sign me up! + Idiosyncratic style. So you won't even dream about copying the style, just the ideas about comics. +++ Creativity, creativity, creativity. The whole teaching process is structured around creati Who knew a second Making Comics, after the masterwork original by Scott McCloud, could be so good? Because Lynda Barry's book about, well, making comics, just flows. It's also very different, with a focus on creativity that complements McCloud's technical depth. +++ Course about making comics? Sign me up! + Idiosyncratic style. So you won't even dream about copying the style, just the ideas about comics. +++ Creativity, creativity, creativity. The whole teaching process is structured around creative exercises. ++ Teaching method focuses on rewarding, beginner-friendly exercises. This is the complete opposite, and a complement to, Scott McCloud's much more technical, even academic approach. I like them both, but for different reasons.

  29. 4 out of 5

    mica

    The "course" that Lynda Barry has written through out this course is simultaneously a course that I would both love and hate to take. As an artist, I agree with many of the tips and points she's making, and I know I would find it useful (I hope to reread this book at some point when I have the time to actually follow the steps and exercises Barry has laid out). As someone with some prior arts training, and perpetual issues with a certain type of perfectionism, I already know that I will find a l The "course" that Lynda Barry has written through out this course is simultaneously a course that I would both love and hate to take. As an artist, I agree with many of the tips and points she's making, and I know I would find it useful (I hope to reread this book at some point when I have the time to actually follow the steps and exercises Barry has laid out). As someone with some prior arts training, and perpetual issues with a certain type of perfectionism, I already know that I will find a lot of this frustrating. That said, as an artist, reading through this book, I think it is immensely good advice for drawing and comics. My one complaint is that the way that Barry has laid this book out is a little complicated and overwhelming to read, especially with the dense hand lettering.

  30. 5 out of 5

    musicologyduck

    Glad to be reading this after taking one of Prof. Barry's daylong workshops—many of these exercises are best done with other people, and the element of surprise when she teaches them is harder to reproduce when you read all of the instructions first. (For some of the exercises this doesn't matter, but for a few, not anticipating the second step is part of the fun.) A few of the exercises will also be familiar to readers of her other books, but it's interesting to see how some have evolved or how Glad to be reading this after taking one of Prof. Barry's daylong workshops—many of these exercises are best done with other people, and the element of surprise when she teaches them is harder to reproduce when you read all of the instructions first. (For some of the exercises this doesn't matter, but for a few, not anticipating the second step is part of the fun.) A few of the exercises will also be familiar to readers of her other books, but it's interesting to see how some have evolved or how they fit in this context. There are also lots of new exercises and variations! But the best part, as always, is how she shows the power of images and theorizes about them in an incredibly accessible and multimodal way.

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