The Comic Book Guide For The Artist-Writer-Letterer

In 1973, there was a growing segment of comic book fandom made up of people who aspired to enter the field themselves. A number had already crossed that threshold in the later 1960s, but the floodgates were thrown open wide in the early 1970s–for all that the field was in pretty bad shape and getting worse every year. The common belief was that comic books were on their way out as a medium. Consequently, there wasn’t a whole lot of practical how-to information available for up-and-coming creators concerning how comic books were put together.

Into this environment, Charlton writer and editor Nicola Cuti convinced the powers-that-were at the firm to publish the Comic Book Guide for the Artist-Writer-Letterer. It was only available by direct mail order and never sold directly on the stands at all. And that’s because the subject matter was aimed at the singular concentrated audience of prospective practitioners of the medium. I’m not sure what sort of a print run it had, but because of the limitation in distribution, it wasn’t widely circulated.But it is filled with plenty of good advice for those attempting to craft their own comics, especially from a 1973 perspective. So we’ll be taking a look ad this odd publication over the course of a few installments.

The term Splash Page has come to mean any full page image regardless of its placement in the story, rather than simply the first page. That would be called the Opening Splash these days, assuming that it is a single image–many comics in the 21st Century don’t open with one.

What this terminology calls Swipes, I would today call Scrap or Reference. “Swipe” has come to mean literally basing your drawing on another earlier drawing done by another artist–stealing the composition, the light sources, the image. And Silver prints aren’t used anymore now that coloring is a self-contained digital process.

Almost all of these items have been replaced by digital equivalents in recent years.

What this terminology sheet called Break Downs I would call Thumbnails today.

Ben Day boards and Craft Tint sheets (often called Zip-A-Tone) have both gone the way of the dodo since such effects are now more easily crafted in a digital manner, or through coloring. What this terminology sheet calls a Bust Shot I would today call a Medium Shot or a Mid-Shot.

That first example panel I would today call an Extreme Close Up.

We’ll continue with the COMIC BOOK GUIDE FOR THE ARTIST-WRITER-LETTERER in the days to come.

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