Every week on The Wednesday Club, hosts Amy Dallen, Taliesin Jaffe, and Matt Key dive deep into their favorite comic book titles and characters. This week they took a step back to answer a seemingly simple question: “How does reading a comic book even work?”
The enthusiastic trio began by defining what exactly comics are. “‘Comics’ is not a genre,” said Amy. “Comics are a medium; it is a way of telling stories.
“Whether it’s Peanuts or Penny Arcade, Persepolis, Punisher, or Pokémon, those are all comics.”
If you’ve never picked up a comic book before, Amy, Matt, and Taliesin were there to walk you through panel by panel and page by page. (Left to right, top to bottom, if you were wondering.)
They also shared recommendations for books that cover the how-to’s for the reading and creation of comic books, as well as titles that work well as examples of the medium.
If you had to pick just one book about comic books, Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud would be the one. “It is THE book,” agreed Amy and Taliesin.
“It is literally a comic book introduction to the concept of comics,” said Amy.
McCloud uses panels and illustrations to define comics, talk about layouts, and discuss visual communication at length.
You don’t have to be a newbie to comic books to get a lot out of this incredible book, however. “If you already have a giant understanding of comics,” said Matt, “and you love comics already, but you’ve never read this book, this will give you a brand new appreciation for the thing you already love. It’s fantastic.”
“[Comics and Sequential Art] is an incredible reference by a classic comic book artist and writer named Will Eisner,” said Amy. “It’s a technical manual for people who want to make and understand comics.”
While this book reads more like a textbook, the information is invaluable to comic book readers and creators alike. From a handy chart explaining how to read panels to in-depth looks at visual storytelling, the master cartoonist shares his tips for the medium. “He was such an important innovator in the field,” Amy said.
If you caught the “Image Revolution” episode of The Wednesday Club, you already know that Amy, Matt, and Taliesin are big fans of The Wicked + The Divine. It’s no wonder the hosts picked the collected edition as their example for learning to read a comic.
The first trade paperback introduces readers to a world in which twelve gods are incarnated in human form and are the ultimate pop stars.
(Image Comics, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie)
Near the end of the show, Amy, Matt, and Taliesin had the chance to recommend a comic by Geek & Sundry Tech Director Zach “Chief” Wilson, available through ComiXology’s self-publishing initiative.
Kid Cop is short, violent, dark comedy book “about a six-year-old child who is the darkest, most violent detective on the LAPD,” described Zach. “It’s not for children.”
Hang out on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel every Wednesday afternoon to catch the next amazing episode of The Wednesday Club. What advice do you give readers new to comics? Share it in the comments.
Images: Geek & Sundry, Scott McCloud / William Morrow Paperbacks