(updated 2010 edition)
by Dave Sim
(from Sequential Artists Workshop, September 2010)
Process is the key word here. This book is a celebration of the process, and a comment on the process and at times a commenting on the commenting of the process. But this should lead no one to believe that this book is a smug meta-fest, quite the opposite. It is probably one of the most practical of recently published how-to handbooks.
Mostly its a joy to read because its written with a force, a love of comics, and decades of experience behind it. Each of his observations about inking and composition ring with a truth that makes me eager to run to the drawing board and put them to the test.
But like any good authentic self published 'zine it instructs you how to read it as you go, it defines for you what it is, a rare chance to listen to the voice of a true independent voice committed to his own ethics and aesthetics and its own vision after over 30 years. There are observations about cartooning that had me bugged eyed and reading passages over and and over again. He spends almost a page and half discussing different ways to sharpen your pencil; there's actually lot more to say on the subject than I thought.
I would not reccommend buying it for its production values. Don't expect to find fun illustrations there are none. In fact there arent even any breaks to organize this book by chapter headings or bullet points. Its just a simple unadorned tower of words rising like one of those obelisks Alan Moore goes on and on about in From Hell. And though the cover, depicting Cerebus the Aardvark furiously cartooning against deadline, facing an oppressive ticking clock, gets points for its workman-like quality, it's also hideous.
But, Dave Sim the cartoonist in this book takes a back seat to Dave Sim the comics fanatic. Since I haven't read Cerebus, that's the side of him that I am discovering, through this book and his essay-heavy work on Glamourpuss.