Draw a Comic!

First Second. (Maker Comics). Oct. 2019. 128p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250152114; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781250152121.
Gr 4-8–A knowledgeable artist, her plucky pooch, and you (yes, you!) save the Comics Library while mastering the medium in this instructional work of graphic nonfiction. Maggie and her anthropomorphic dog, Rex, are reinvigorating the Comics Library in an anytown where you, the reader, have agreed to serve as their assistant. When dastardly developer Dr. Carl Stephens threatens to replace the library with a parking lot, the protagonists embark on a treasure hunt to save it. Maggie and several local entrepreneurs walk readers through the basics of making comics: scripting, drawing, penciling and inking, and printing. Fans of the publisher’s “Science Comics” will appreciate the “Maker Comics” series, which use simple stories as framing devices for ambitious how-to guides. As a graphic novel attempting to teach kids how to create this very format, the book faces—and clears—an especially high bar. Although Coovert relies on digital tools to craft a volume largely about analog methods, he compensates with his tidy aesthetic; warm palette; diverse, gender-ambiguous cast; and accessible examples. While the narrative isn’t so thin as to feel contrived, it’s easily eclipsed by the step-by-step tutorials at the book’s core, where Coovert’s instructional images and concise text shine. Supplementary materials, including a glossary of comics terminology and a further reading list, round out this clarion call to expertly draw it yourself.
VERDICT An approachable heir to the work of Scott McCloud for a new generation of budding comics artists.

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