Being creative is not an easy profession or hobby. While many of us right-brained thinkers agree that using our creativity regularly is a dream, it’s certainly a double-edged sword. On the one hand, when we’re plugged in and completely focused on a project, nothing can stop us from reaching the goal –on the other, being forced to generate something totally new under a tight deadline can be a terrifying experience. Worst of all, we’re subject to something very unique to our passion: creative blocks.
The same holds true for aspiring mangaka and comic producers. It’s twice as hard since we can be hit with both writing and art blocks. So what happens when you do hit a creative block? Or what if you want to start a new project but have no idea on how to do so? That’s where we come in.
We’ve curated five of the best books (and a few bonus ideas) for you to help you get started, keep the creativity flowing, and get your works out there.
1. Manga in Theory and Practice: The Craft of Creating Manga –Hirohiko Araki
Written by the creator of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure himself, this book is literally a how-to guide about making a successful manga. Part autobiography, part roadmap, this book is laid out in an easy to understand style. With personal references and visuals from his past works, Araki breaks down the art of creating manga in a way never done before. A must-have for any aspiring mangaka.
2. The War of Art –Steven Pressfield
If there’s one book every creative needs, it’s this. Regardless of what kind of creative work you do, The War of Art is an essential for blasting through your blocks. Pressfield wrote this clearly knowing that his target audience would be feeling fairly drained, so it’s broken up into short segments to help get you back on track. Covering everything from initial resistance to being a creative professional, this book will soon become a well-worn staple on your shelf.
3. Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels –Scott McCloud
If you’re serious about making comics (and even if you aren’t), chances are you’ve heard of Scott McCloud. Author of 12 different books centering around comics and graphic novels, most of which are best-sellers, McCloud has written his books in the form he knows best –graphic novels. Even though you’re reading a how-to book, it feels incredibly fun and entertaining just because of the format. Being able to visually explain art-styles is much easier than describing them via text, making this book perfect for anyone interested in art, beginner or expert.
4. Hitchcock/Truffaut –François Truffaut
Definitely the oddball pick of the bunch, this book is recommended by Hirohiko Araki to every aspiring manga or comic creators. While Hitchcock/Truffaut is essentially a “how-to” textbook for filmmaking (and a dense 400+ pages), Araki argues that the same principles outlined in the book can be applied to drawing and writing –the same process, with differing formats. Araki also said the only way he was ever able to withstand harsh criticisms was because the book prepared him for it, which is essential in any creative field.
5. Show Your Work! –Austin Kleon
Another well-known author for his book Steal Like an Artist, Kleon’s follow-up to his smash hit is just as important to have on your bookshelf. Being in a creative field poses so many hurdles to overcome, one of the biggest being, “How do I get my work out there and seen?” You’ve created your masterpiece, but what’s the next step? Kleon, in his usual relaxed and punchy style gives plausible ways to get you exposure. A quick read with chapter titles like, “You don’t Need to be a Genius,” this book will have you on your way to achieving success once the creative process is all said and done.
But What About Other Resources?
As an additional treat, we recommend you buy an artbook from any (and every) artist that gives you inspiration. Turning to others for inspiration is never a bad thing, and being able to have a physical, visual representation of the style you want to emulate is important when honing your craft. Whether it be from video games or classical painters, art books are crammed full of ways to get your inspiration flowing.
But what if books aren’t really your style? What if you don’t have the time to read, or you’re so burnt out at the end of the day that you can’t imagine picking up a book for an hour or so? We’ve got you covered, too. The documentary The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness gives viewers insight into the world of one of the most successful and well-known creative professionals, Hayao Miyazaki. Peppered with exclusive interviews, behind the scenes footage, and a look at the creative process of the master himself, this film is easy to watch.
So now that you’re armed with a new arsenal of books, what are you still doing here? Get to work and start creating!