I've just started reading Scott McCloud's new book "Making Comics - Storytelling secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels" and so far it's been a very enjoyable read. Being partly responsible for nemu*nemu puts me in the drivers seat of the storyteller, and I'm always interested in expanding my knowledge of what makes a great and compelling story.
McCloud has a knack for breaking things down and explaining what most of us cartoonist/artists take for granted: basic frame by frame story telling. While I've thought about this process and even wrote a few tutorials in the past describing the process and different types of storytelling, I never dove in as deep as McCloud has in this book. What I found most surprising is how he's able to dissect the storytelling process and explain it in such great detail. So much so, that it made me sit up and go, "Aha! So THATS what I was thinking! That's exactly it!"
I haven't finished the book as I'm taking my time and digesting it slowly between nemu*nemu work sessions. But I have skipped around to see what he would be covering in later chapters, and I must say that if you're thinking of making a comic or comic strip, you owe it to yourself to check this book out. Besides breaking down the basic principles of storytelling, McCloud also covers character creation, using digital and traditional media and putting it all together and finding your place in comics.
Reading this book made me take a good hard look at my ideas for future stories and how they would compare with the artists and writers that I have admired for years. While nemu*nemu often doesn't fit into the graphic novel type of comic, the storytelling process is still often times challenging. When Kitsy and I first started off, I wasn't much into doing the strip exclusively in four panels. I felt it would be too limiting. But Kitsy stuck to her belief that four panels was the best way to tell the tale of the pups and two gals and she was right. After a while I realized that my favorite comics have always been told in just about 3-4 panels... Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, Mutts, Bloom County and Liberty Meadows. They all have their genius in just four panels. I really think that being able to break things down to four panels makes us better at what we do each time we succeed in making it work. It truly is an art.
While this isn't a "How to Draw" type book (you should already have that part covered, right?), I feel it picks up where those types of technical books leave off. McCloud has obviously worked his butt off on this thing, and for that I say thanks for sharing your knowledge of comics via Making Comics with me. I'm sure it will help make nemu*nemu a better comic strip!