The aspiring Marvel Comic creator has no shortage of books offering a complete training course within the covers of a simple manual. The classic How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way started things off way back in 1977. Among the many subsequent imitators, the most notable is Klutz: Draw The Marvel Comics Super-Heroes, and it's re-release Klutz: Draw the Marvel Heroes (2nd Edition).
It's not at all surprising that DK Books decided to have a go as well. This 2006 publication is written by Dan Jurgens, who possesses all the right credentials as both Writer and Artist to tackle a job like this one.
This book is a hardback folder, with a concealed spiral binding so that it lays flat on the table. The 96 pages are a generous 9" x 11" in size, full color.
The list of topics is impressive – verging on "ambitious". Pencil techniques, basic figures, male and female figures, musculature, shading, perspective, foreshortening, heads, hands, feet, clothing, weapons, inking, coloring, the scripting process.
Some of the pages have transparent overlay sheets giving "before" and "after" views of sketch pencils and corresponding finished pencils. There are also some fold-out pages, all of which gives good variety to the book's structure.
It's the eternal compromise in any technical book. Scope versus Detail. In this case, Scope is the clear winner, with Detail brutally compromised in the name of the almighty "limited page count".
There's nothing wrong at all with the content that is given. It's attractive, and technically accurate. But each topic receives only one example. I would have loved to see three fully-worked examples for each subject, with a couple of guided practice pages.
The near-indecent haste with which each section is covered means that this book could only ever be considered a "taster". It offers a hasty glimpse into all the key areas of comic-book illustration, and then unceremoniously dumps the wannabe artist by the side of the road to walk the next thousand miles alone.
The book's title is probably accurate, "You CAN Draw Marvel Characters" (if you spend five years practising every day). But perhaps it would have been more accurately called "An Attractive but Frustratingly Short-on-Worked-Examples Introduction to Drawing Marvel Characters".
But, it doesn't end there. Despite its lack of depth, this is also an excellent book by many other measures. Certainly, there are far worse "How to Draw Comics" products on the market. DK employs capable writers and makes attractive, appealing books, and I can't bring myself to give "You Can Draw" a below-average rating.
So let's acknowledge some faults, but call it Three Webs on balance.