By Beau Smith

If you thought school was over for the year, you were wrong. It’s time for the Busted Knuckles Summer School For Comic Books. Admittance is free as is tuition, but you will have to pay for your own textbooks. Trust me, there are lots of books out there that you can learn from. I’m here this week to let you know what books you’re going to need.

Kirby: King Of Comics
Written by Mark Evanier, with an introduction by Neil Gaiman
Publisher: Abrams
224 pages color
Cover price: $40.00 hardcover

This is a book that does Jack Kirby justice. It’s an over-sized book with nice, big pages so that you can truly appreciate and learn from Kirby’s work. Even an old dog like me that grew up with Kirby’s finest stuff in the 1960’s was overjoyed to see his pencil work at almost natural size. The icing on the cake is that there are some very cool unpublished pieces in here that will thrill even the most knowledge packed students of Jack Kirby.

Don’t misunderstand, this isn’t a coffee table art book. (Although it would look good on yours) Author and historian, Mark Evanier has filled this book with loads of history on Kirby from his childhood to when he took his last curtain call. Evanier is one of the trusted sources to write and speak of Jack Kirby, they were friends and worked together. You can read his words and know that there is truth and no embellishing.

As an aspiring or veteran artist or comic book creator, there is a goldmine of information with every page and brushstroke of Jack Kirby’s work. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee together were truly the ones that made Marvel Comics “The House Of Ideas.” There are lots of places that sell books online and on the streets where you can buy this must have book on Jack Kirby. I suggest you start looking.

Kirby Five-Oh!: Celebrating 50 Years Of The “King” Of Comics
Edited by John Morrow
Publisher: TwoMorrows
167 pages softcover B&W and color
Cover price: $19.95
Cover Price: limited hardcover $34.95

The class on Jack Kirby isn’t over yet. The historians of TwoMorrows Publishing have also released a wonderful over-sized softcover book on Jack Kirby that you have to get for this semester of Summer School. Kirby Five-Oh! 50 Years Of The “King” Of Comics is a great bookend for Mark Evainer’s book. Loaded with photos, art, history and interviews all dedicated to Jack Kirby, you will have hours of enjoyment and education from this 14 X 10 inch book of wonderment. It’s got a 50 page gallery, 50 pieces of Kirby’s unused artwork, as well as 50 people of pop culture and comics that were influenced by Jack Kirby. Part color and part B&W with some great personal photos of Kirby from home, conventions and his military service. My personal copy of this book is dog eared and screams of being read. I hope your copy ends up the same way.

The Best Of DRAW! Volume Three
Edited/Written/Drawn by Mike Manley Art by Mike Wieringo and Bret Blevins
Publisher: TwoMorrows
256 pages softcover B&W and color
Cover price: $29.95

The Best Of Write Now!
Edited and Written by Danny Fingeroth
Art by Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane and more
Publisher: TwoMorrows
160 pages B&W softcover
Cover price: $19.95

As you can see, we aren’t off the TwoMorrows Publishing path to higher learning either. They have two very fine books that I highly recommend for both writers and artists. It doesn’t matter if you have never been published or have hundreds of comics in print, these books will only enhance your career. These books are filled with such industry icons and workhorses such as Stan Lee, Brian Bendis, Mark Millar, John Ostrander, Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Jeph Loeb and so many more. Both of these books are not only great reads, pretty to look at, but they are also blueprints for you as a comic book creator to learn more about the craft of writing and drawing comics. Even if you don’t aspire to write or draw, they give you an insight to how comic books are created. That’s worth the cover price right there. I also recommend that you check out TwoMorrows magazines such as Draw!, Write Now!, Rough Stuff and all of the TwoMorrows Publishing library of books.

Sketch Magazine: Comic Book Art, Tips and Techniques
Edited by Bill Nichols and Robert Hickey
Publisher: Blue Line Productions
60-80 pages Bi-Monthly B&W with partial color
Cover price: $5.95

Sketch Magazine covers tips and techniques from independent to mainstream style in comic books. It’s a very common sense, personal magazine that talks to you as a creator in terms that you will not only understand, but learn from as well. The interviews are open and let you see the hands on side of making comics. The articles and columns cover the areas that sometimes only come from working with an editor. Sketch Magazine is like having your own personal mentor to guide you through the jungle of comic book art, writing and publishing. Sketch Magazine also includes your source for art supplies by easy access to Blue Line Pro’s art and comic book supplies. There is usually a catalogue section in the magazine to give you an idea of some of the stuff you may need for your studio. For non creators it’s also a great place to get cool sketch books and art paper to take to conventions for signings and sketches for your own collection. They also have a fine library of “How To” books that you will need for your foundation into comic books and other realms of pop culture creativity. Check out the magazine and website for a whole world of useful tools that you’re gonna need for your creative tool box.

No Guts, No Glory: How To Market Yourself In Comics
Written by Beau Smith
Edited by Flint Henry, Bill Nichols and Bill Love
Publisher: Blue Line Productions
85 Pages B&W art & photos
Cover price: $19.99

What?? You thought you were going to get off without having me plug my own book? Fat chance!

The above mentioned books cover you if you are an aspiring writer or artist, but No Guts, No Glory teaches you how to market YOURSELF as not only a comic book creator, but a person. (That’s scary coming from me, isn’t it?) In this book you’ll learn such much needed lessons as: networking, writing scripts, contact tips, marketing and promotions, work habits, marketing yourself, dealing with editors, press releases, keeping records, tips for the internet and much more.

It’s all given to you in a very blue collar, common sense style that anyone can relate to and understand. I’m not saying people are dumb, I just want to make this as easy as possible and still give you some entertainment at the same time. There aren’t many (if any) books out there that cover the topics I throw at you. I firmly believe this is the book you want in the foxhole with you when the “get hired” bullets are flying. The response and reviews for the book have been great so far, I think my head has finally swollen to capacity and leveled off. This is a book for the YOU business that YOU have to deal with. Buy it! (Please….I really wanna buy the Corner Gas DVD set.)

These are just some of the books that you can learn from. There are more and I think you’ll find them once you start by checking the ones I mentioned out. I agree that there is over a $100.00 worth of books there and more to come, but when you think about how much you spend on monthly comics, trade paperbacks and just how much you want to start creating your own, well, I think a little over a hundred dollars is a cost that will pay for itself many times over when you see your name in the credits of Superman, Captain America or even better, your own creation.

Class is dismissed… for today.

Busted Knuckles Manly Cover of the Week: Superman Confidential #9
Opening Splash Page by Chris Batista, Prentis Rollins & Cam Smith
DC Comics 2008

Whoever said I was predictable? They were wrong. This week there was a splash page that was so manly I decided to break my own rules and make it The Busted Knuckles Manly Cover Of The Week. What better character to break that rule than Orion. Orion of the New Gods has long been one of my favorite characters in the DCU. That alone is odd because I’ve never understood the New Gods (Please forgive me, Jack Kirby.) but I’ve always understood Orion. He is without a doubt the best grouchy super powered being ever. He suffers no fools and slaps ’em upside the head for even thinking about annoying him, including Superman. (Who I always enjoy seeing get beat up.) This story by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning is so much fun I’m even throwing in this other panel from the story to further prove my point. I hope you enjoy this rule breaking, Busted Knuckles moment. Go buy the issue and have as much fun as I did.

Busted Knuckles Babe of the Week: Willa Ford

When you host a show called “Pants Off, Dance Off” and look like Willa Ford, then you get my attention. Aww, who am I kidding, when you look like Willa Ford, you always get my attention. Willa Ford is one of those celebrities that is on TV a lot playing herself. That usually means eye candy. So what? Give me a bag full. Make sure you check Willa out in her latest acting role in the upcoming Friday The 13th in 2009.

The Roundup

Today was a very nice day outdoors so I made use of it. I walked a couple of miles, mowed the grass and then pruned the evergreen trees out front. Hauled out the wheelbarrow and carted off a few loads of branches and pine needles. Do I enjoy yard work? NO. I do it because it has to be done sooner or later, kinda like shaving my face. It’s always good to get outside, but there are many other things I would rather do outdoors. My lawn will never look as good as Ned Flanders, but it will never look as bad as Homer Simpson’s. (I lie, sure it will)

I want to thank Russ Anderson of Tucson, Arizona for the surprise package with two great books in it. That was very nice of you Russ and I appreciate the books. The books were The Cowboy and the Cross: the Bill Watts Story and Zane Grey: His Life, His Adventures and His Women by Thomas Pauly. I truly enjoy reading about the Big Time Wrestling stars of my youth like Cowboy Bill Watts. He was always a pleasure to watch as a kid and the book really sheds some light on his work behind the scenes as an owner, wrestler, promoter and booker. He doesn’t sugar coat a thing and tells the raw story of how he started out and also found redemption.

The Zane Grey book really means a lot to me because I was related to him on my grandmother’s side. I remember my grandmother being very excited when I was published, she always said that writing ran in the family and would then remind me that I was related to Zane Grey. One day I’ll have to really track that side of the family tree down and find out how close or distant we were related.

Okay, that’s it. Summer is here. Get out and go pull some weeds out of your yard. Better yet, come pull them out of MY yard!

Your amigo,

Beau Smith
The Flying Fist Ranch
P.O. Box 706
Ceredo, WV. 25507

Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!

About The Author

Beau Smith

Beau Smith is a writer for Comics Bulletin