Last week we looked at Christmas gift ideas for the DC Comics lover, so this week we’ll look at the competition: Christmas gift ideas for your aspiring Marvel Comics writers/artists. The first on the list is an all-time classic that is now over thirty years old, while the rest are more recent takes on the “Marvel Way” of comics:
- How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way by Stan Lee
- Stan Lee’s How to Write Comics
- Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics
- Stan Lee’s How to Draw Superheroes
In addition to those volumes by Stan Lee himself, a number of licensed character-specific books are available:
- Learn to Draw Marvel’s Spider-Man
- Learn to Draw Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
- How to Draw Iron Man
- How to Draw X-Men
Not quite as many selections as available for DC Comics, but that’s not too surprising. It seems that Marvel’s bread-and-butter is on the big screen now, while DC has faltered in that medium. But on paper, DC is still far and away the better comic book maker.
Words For Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels by Brian Michael Bendis (2014)
Words For Pictures
by Brian Michael Bendis
I have read a handful of books about writing for comics and graphic novels, and each brings information that was not contained in the last. As of yet, there has not been one as thorough as Brian Michael Bendis’ Words For Pictures. Reading how-to books by unknown writers may or may not be helpful, but reading how-to books by individuals who are successful in their chosen field are almost universally inspiring and invaluable. In this book, Bendis accomplishes one of his goals: “Be Walt Simonson.” To him, that means to be as helpful and patient as possible with those who ask questions, who thirst for knowledge and guidance, who share a like passion. Bendis gives outsiders a peek into the world of creating comics, from the script to the drawing board to the editor’s room. Beautiful artwork from the pages of Marvel graces nearly every page.
The best chapter in this book, however, has nothing to do with comics. The world of comics provides the backdrop, but the thrust of the first chapter, “Why?”, has to do with passion. This chapter should be read by every young person, no matter what career they pursue. “Make it for you. And you only. Then, if by some miraculous turn of events someone ELSE wants to buy it too, that’s great. It’s all gravy after that.”
Words For Pictures is a book that needs to be a part of every comic book writer’s library, and the first chapter should be read at least once a month. Bendis is both honest and inspiring in his writing, and every aspiring writer and artist will benefit from this book.
Hero Drawing: The Amazing Spider-Man
edited by Alice Gibbs
Every kid loves coloring books, but there is one thing more satisfying than staying in the lines: coloring your own drawings! Parragon’s Hero Drawing: The Amazing Spider-Man gives youngsters the building blocks needed to put their own Spidey on paper, with basic instructions and suggestions to improve. The book comes with six colored pencils, an eraser, and a sharpener, and has plenty of room to practice sketching right next to the examples inside.
Not only is the budding comic book artist given instructions on how to draw the wall crawler himself, but also two of his most famous foes, the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus. Children can apply the underlying principle of recognizing shapes before tackling details in trying to draw other characters once they have mastered the poses in Hero Drawing: The Amazing Spider-Man, a great book for beginners.
Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging
by Alan Cowsill and Matthew K. Manning
DK Books, 2012
In the five decades since a radioactive spider bit Peter Parker, Spider-Man has gone through many evolutions in the comics. Alan Cowsill and Matthew K. Manning do an excellent job of documenting those changes in Spider-Man Chronicle, a massive full-color volume that is essential reading to any serious Spidey fan. Highlighting the best stories and covers dating back to the 1960s, the authors leave no web unspun, documenting characters from the comics, writers that put words in their mouths, and artists that put their mark on the wall-crawler and his friends.
In addition to Spider-Man’s various titles, the artists also examine several of his guest appearances in other Marvel franchises such as X-Men, Avengers, and Fantastic Four. Even the one-off Spider-Ham makes an appearance in this book, proving that Spider-Man Chronicle is certainly the most comprehensive history of the hero available in print.
Two fantastic lithographs are included with the book, drawn by John Tyler Christopher, who also lent his talents for the cover artwork. There is not a Spider-Man fan alive that would not appreciate this book. It is simply amazing, spectacular, and sensational.
The Amazing Spider-Man “Be The Hero” Apron
by ICUP Inc.
Do you feel like a hero when you are slaving over a hot stove, or manning the grill? You should, and with ICUP Inc.’s “Be The Hero” aprons, you can show others how heroic you feel as you prepare their food. Available in several different character styles from Marvel and DC, “Be The Hero” aprons are one-size-fits-all adult aprons, 100% polyester, perfect for the kitchen or the backyard.
Whether your favorite comic book hero is Spider-Man, Captain America, or Superman, you will love these “Be The Hero” aprons. And with Father’s Day coming up in just a few weeks (June 17), you have plenty of time to order this fun gift for Dad and show him that he is your hero.
A ton of Marvel cartoons will be made available for streaming during 2011, from the big dogs Spider-Man and X-Men to the lesser known like Black Panther and Sub-Mariner. Beginning today, a bunch of ’90s and ’00s series and specials will stream, while the classics from the ’60s will come later this fall, and more promised by the comic book company!
The one I am most looking forward to is planned for a summer stream…the 1981 classic “Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends!” I loved watching Spidey team up with Ice Man and Firestar every Saturday morning when I was a tiny tike, and can’t wait to watch those adventures again with my kids!
There is a fantastic fan site for the series here.
For the full list of what is coming to Netflix, read this news item on Marvel’s site. Or, if you’re already a Netflix streamer, go ahead and start watching…
(If they still say “unavailable,” check back later…they should be live sometime today)
- The Incredible Hulk (1996-97)
- Spider-Man Unlimited (1999)
- Iron Man: Extremis (2010)
- Astonishing X-Men: Gifted (2009)
- Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. (2009)
- Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes (2006)
- Silver Surfer (1998)
- Black Panther (2009)
- Iron Man: Armored Adventures (2009)
NOTE: Pay attention to the ratings! As I was adding some of these titles, I noticed a few are marked TV-MA which are intended for adults, not kids.
If you are not yet a Netflix subscriber, you can try it out for free for the first month. Just sign up on netflix.com.