Recommended Books on Drawing & Cartooning

How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way
By John Buscema and Stan Lee

Based on the comic art classes Buscema gave in the 1970s, and with text provided by none other than Stan Lee, it’s a great primer on comic book art and storytelling.


Drawing Words and Writing Pictures
by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden

Provides solid instruction for people interested in making their own comics. The page which lists the different kinds of pen nibs for inking is worth the price of admission alone.


Check out the companion book as well – Mastering Comics.

DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics
By Mark Chiarello and Todd Klein

This book will bring you up to speed on color theory and the art of lettering – with tons of info for working digitally.


How To Draw: Comics
By Terry Moore

This book is one of a series and focuses on the tools of the trade.
From Comixology, “Everything from paper to Photoshop is discussed in detail, with Moore’s own tips and templates revealed. For beginners and pros alike, this is a book every comic artist will find useful.”


Making Comics
By Scott McCloud

How to draw comics with an eye to the academic. Scott McCloud first put comics under the microscope with his 1993 book, Understanding Comics. Here he expands on it.

“Only Scott McCloud could organize his thoughts on comics like this. Scott’s talent as a cartoonist not only makes him intimate to insights no outsider can see but also gives him the power to show it to the world. Will it be controversal? Does it live up to the promise of Understanding Comics? Happily, the answer to both questions is yes!”

Jeff Smith (Bone)


The Mad Art of Caricature
by Tom Richmond

Recipient of a Reuben Award for “Cartoonist of the Year” from the National Cartoonist Society, Tom Richmond is probably best know for his work for Mad magazine. Here he lays out what goes into drawing a great caricature.


Here’s a preview…

Cartoon Animation
by Preston Blair

A classic – From Amazon…

“In this comprehensive title, famed animator Preston Blair shares his expertise on how to develop a cartoon character, create dynamic movement, and coordinate dialogue with action. Topics include character development, line of action, dialogue, timing, and, of course, animation! This valuable resource provides all the inspiration and information you need to begin drawing your own animated characters.”


Last but not least…
First published in the 1960s, the following Jack Hamm books are a mainstay on my bookshelf – Highly recommended!



There’s many more art books I could list (Rendering in Pen and Ink by Guptill and any of the Andrew Loomis books come to mind) – but I think the preceding is at least a start. As mentioned with the Jack Hamm books, they are all on my bookshelf and are all well worn from years of use.

If money is tight, some of these books can be checked out from the library – that way you can give them a test run before investing in them. And if you’re serious about drawing, you’ll definitely want to pick up the ones you like so you can have them for handy reference and further study.

If interested in more info about cartooning, check out my previous post
Working Professionally as a Cartoonist.
All my work related links are posted there for easy browsing and access.

-Jim Keefe

About Jim Keefe

Jim Keefe is the current artist of the Sally Forth comic strip, he is also the writer and artist of the Flash Gordon comic strip - both available at A graduate of the Joe Kubert School, Keefe likewise teaches Comic Art. Teaching and speaking engagements include SVA in Manhattan, Hofstra’s UCCE Youth Programs, The University of Minnesota and most recently the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
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