Beginning Drawing Lesson 8 – Comics

colored pencils

(Click HERE to download this lesson  for printing)

As we begin our next cartooning assignment, let’s first look at a brief history of comics.

A Comics History

Simply put, “Comics” is a medium used to express ideas using images, often combined with text or other visual information.

Comics usually take the form of a series of image panels. You may find textual devices such as speech balloons, captions, and onomatopoeia* dialogue, narration, sound effects, or other information.

*Onomatopoeia… now there’s a word you are not familiar with! Onomatopoeia is a word that phonetically imitates, resembles or suggests the source of the sound that it describes. Examples of onomatopoeias include animal noises such as “oink”, “meow”, “roar” or “chirp”.

Cartooning and similar forms of illustration are the most common image-making means in comics. Common forms of comics include newspaper comics, editorial and gag cartoons, and comic books.

Traditionally, throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, these comics have been published in newspapers and magazines, with horizontal strips printed in black-and-white in daily newspapers, while Sunday newspapers offered longer sequences in special color comics sections.

There were more than 200 different comic strips and daily cartoon panels in American newspapers alone each day for most of the 20th century, for a total of at least 7,300,000 episodes.

More modern versions include graphic novels, comic albums, and manga. With the development of the internet, they began to appear online as web comics.

Strips are written and drawn by a comics artist or cartoonist.

The history of comics have followed different paths in different cultures.

Scholars list a history as far back as the cave paintings. By the mid-20th century, comics flourished particularly in the United States, western Europe, and Japan.

The history of European comics is often traced to Rodolphe Töpffer’s cartoon strips of the 1830s, and became popular following the success in the 1930s of strips and books such as The Adventures of Tintin.


American comics emerged as a mass medium in the early 20th century with the advent of newspaper comic strips; magazine-style comic books followed in the 1930s, in which the superhero genre became prominent after Superman appeared in 1938.

Histories of Japanese comics and cartooning (manga) propose origins as early as the 12th century. Modern comic strips emerged in Japan in the early 20th century, and the output of comics magazines and books rapidly expanded in the post-World War II era with the popularity of cartoonists such as Osamu Tezuka.


Osamu Tezuka – Astroboy

Comics had a low reputation for much of its history, but towards the end of the 20th century began to find greater acceptance with the public and in academia.


Comics Creators

Here is a short list of some contemporary American comic creators:

Scott Adams – Dilbert Jim Davis – Garfield
Dik Browne – Hagar the Horrible, Hi and Lois Johnny Hart – Wizard of Id, B.C.
Charles M. Schultz – Peanuts Mort Walker – Beetle Bailey
Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott – Baby Blues Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman – Zits
David Gilbert – Buckles Patrick Roberts – Todd the Dinosaur


Important Points To Remember

Here are some important points to remember from last week’s lesson…

  • Your strip may have panels around every frame in the comic… or not.
  • Most comics will have text balloons in the frames to convey the conversation… what is being said by which characters… or not.
  • Cartoons basically have two elements… the drawing and the text. Comics add a third element, as mentioned before… Onomatopoeia…  or not.
  • The text has to be readable… if you can’t read it, you will not understand the story… period!



For this week’s assignment, students will draw a comic strip of their choice using an example from a newspaper.

The steps to create a quality comic strip are basically the same as last week’s single frame cartoon… there are just more frames.


Follow These Steps to Complete Your Comic

  1. Using a pencil, draw the frames (if there are any)… if needed, use a ruler.  I have made a frame template that will be very useful in the overall frame size.  (5 ¼ X 15 inches)
  2. DRAW the text first… then draw the balloons around it. If you draw the balloons first, you might not have room for the lettering.
  3. Draw the text balloons… if there are any.
  4. Next, draw the most important characters.
  5. Finally, draw the minor characters and any background objects needed.
  6. Ink your cartoon with felt tip pen… take your time… BE NEAT!
  7. Erase any unwanted pencil construction lines.
  8. If you wish, you may color the cartoon with colored pencils, or shade with drawing pencil… either one will work.