The Art of Comics: A Resource Guide

Gorillaz sketch by Jamie Hewlett; via Flickr


Interested in learning more about comics? Want to try your hand at crafting the next big webcomic, or work for a more traditional graphic novel company? Anxious to teach with comics or show kids how to make comics of their own? This guide has you covered.

Study Comic Art

Random History: Archetypes, Commercialism, and Hollywood: This fully summary of modern comics gives you all the background information you need in one site. It is an ideal read if you are looking for a straightforward history that lets you move on to everything else in the comic’s world.

The Comic Books: History: This page may not have much in the way of frills, but it does give a solid history of the origin of comics. Move through the pages to cycle through the various eras in modern comic history, starting with the Newsstand Period.

Comic Art: The History of Comics: Again, ignore the cheesy graphics – this site has one of the best online collections of comic’s history you’ll find on or off the web. Choose either the In-Depth History or the Chronology of Comic Art in America, and cycle through the pages for one of the most detailed looks on comic art outside of the graduate classroom.

Comiclopedia: Of course there is an online encyclopedia devoted to comic artists. This is for aficionados who want to learn the names of their favorite illustrators and study how artists have created comics through the years. The Comics History section also has some useful tabs, like Underground Comix.

DC Comics / Marvel Comics Encyclopedias: Since you can’t have one without the other, here are links to both sides of the popular comic book coin. Each site has an encyclopedia-like source of information on characters, storylines, and of course comics themselves.

Comics Forum: Comic (Book History): This is a fascinating forum and a good article at the same time. Read it, then browse some of their other more academic pieces as well. All are thought provoking, and the site’s forums offer more of the same.

Comics Research: Comics-Related Dissertations and Theses: This is a list of major doctoral articles completed on comics and comic history. Some have links, some you may want to search on your own, and some titles may spark ideas for personal lines of research.

UProxx: 5 Online College Courses for Comic Fans: This article takes a tour around the United States to showcase a variety of college courses on comics. History is not the only subject – there are classes on comparing comics and myths, classes on comic superpowers, and much more.

Online Universities: 12 Colleges Bringing Comic Books into the Classroom: This list of 12 colleges around the United States details how comic books are being used, and what aspects are being taught in a variety of courses. Quotes from the professors and interesting applications (comics and medical procedures?) make the list worthwhile.

Learn Comic Art
Art of the Comic Book: How and Why Comic Books are Drawn at 10 by 15 inches: At first glance, this looks like another generic article on comics as whole, but it is really a teaser for a comic studio course, a specially designed workshop where you can hone your own skills and get graded. Cycle through the tabs for a good overview of the class.

MCAD: Comic Art: If you are not near the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, you may be tempted to pass over this course site. But it is worth a second look, as the course requirements and topics are relevant to a number of similar classes and will provide you with some key information.

Comics Experience: This site offers a number of online comic creation courses, culminating in a program that allows you to study all aspects of the process – or just focus on something in particular, such as drawing or writing. Take some time to review the current workshops and see if any interest you.

Comic Artwork: This organization offers continual advice on how to stay a sharp comic creator, with tips on all types of comic drawing. Content is suitable for a variety of age levels, but most of it is for a more experienced audience with a few resources for children as well.

Teach Comic Art and Theory

Lesson Plans
Comic Books in the History Classroom: This list is an excellent planning resource for comic art teachers. While it does not have information on drawing or writing quality, it offers a number of ways to link comic art content with the real world. This will help students make gripping, high quality comic stories.

Free ESL Materials: Comics: Yes, there is an ESL Comics section. This list sports many links to online comic creators that both students and teachers can use in the classroom. It also offers links on specific comics to use, methods of teaching with or on comics, and many other topics.

The Comic Book Project: This aptly named project works to improve creative and literary skills among kids by encouraging them to create comics together, both individually and in groups. Look into the site for ideas, inspiration, and ways to participate in the project in your area.

Art Inspired: Comics, Cartooning and Graphic Novel Lesson and Unit Plans: This site provides several links on teaching with comic books and different lessons you can use in the classroom, including a link dedicated to art history.

Other Resources
Innovation Teaching: Chris Wilson Discussed the Comic Book Movement: This article is part of a series on how comics are infiltrating education systems. You can draw both general lessons and specific comic teaching ideas from the interview and help further comic’s education in your community    .

Flummery: Teaching: This remarkable page collects teacher resources on specific drawing lessons for basic comic elements, as well as suggestions for teaching particular types of content. Toward the bottom there are also links for comic templates. If you are interested in forming lesson ideas of your own then be sure to thoroughly explore Flummery’s offerings.

Comic Art Today

Comic Art Community: This site allows you to search for information based on a wide variety of image topics. You can also explore shopping links and preview some of the most popular current images. News and articles are included as well.

The Comics Journal: Technically this site is more of a news feed, but it has an inherent blog feeling to it thanks to a number of personal columns and features. There are also comic reviews and discussion, even listings for various comic book events. If you want a comic book blog, then try a professional one like this.

News Feeds
Comic Book Resources: This news feed includes columns, breaking comic news and reviews, and a thriving community section. You can also search for nearby comic shops, or look up specific comic topics to brush up on the popular comic characters and writers you know little about. The frequently updated news section, however, makes this site truly worthwhile.

ComicVine: This site also collects comic news, albeit with a more minimalistic style and maybe a few more interest pieces than Comic Book Resources. Podcasts are included on this site, as is a handy “Powers” section that nearly counts as an encyclopedia in its own right and can be the source of many excellent ideas.

Further Resources
Comic Foundry: This magazine is the closest you can get to a comic lifestyle journal. Search the archives to find interviews and information on various comic book trends. Search the topics on the left to find articles and comic book views on a variety of subjects.

IPL: Graphic Novels: Explore this resource for a collection of useful links on webcomics. There are many webcomics, and the scene is changing too rapidly to easily document, but the links that the site provides are a good start. The other resource tabs are also worth a look.