praise for Drawing Words & Writing Pictures
A gold mine of essential information for every aspiring comics artist. Highly recommended.
Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics
Drawing Words and Writing Pictures is an ambitious and successful work from two of the comics art form’s most experienced instructors….I always look forward to teaching comics classes, but with the next class I teach, I’ll be particularly delighted to skip the hours I usually spend at the photocopier putting together myriad handouts culled from dozens of sources and, instead, simply add, “Required text: Drawing Words and Writing Pictures” to my syllabus.
Jessica Abel and Matt Madden’s Drawing Words & Writing Pictures provides an excellent foundation for the introductory comic book classroom…. From the comic book basics: panel layout, penciling, inking, and lettering to the art of story: narrative arcs, character development, and world building, Madden and Abel manage to touch upon all the most relevant concerns for first time comic book creators….Whether it’s brush care, ink selection, or optimal drawing posture, DP&WP has it covered.
There are some who say that those who can, do, while those who can’t, teach. Clearly they’ve never been taught by Matt Madden and Jessica Abel.
Matt and Jessica’s experience, both in the classroom and at the drawing board, has resulted in a book that should help any aspiring cartoonist. A go-to how-to that will undoubtedly be of tremendous aid for any school or instructor attempting to map out a thoughtful and engaging comics curriculum.
James Sturm, Director, Center for Cartoon Studies
The future belongs to comics and, despite all the breathtaking developments in the medium over recent years, we have barely glimpsed the wonders still to come. The field is still wide open, ready for anyone to explore. That is why the time is right for a thorough, thought-provoking textbook like this, offering a step-by-step course to help you find your own unique voice. Start here and you too can become part of the future of comics.
Paul Gravett, author of Graphic Novels: Everything you need to Know
praise for Life Sucks
This hilarious tale strikes perilously close to the reality of the slacker twenty-something life. Abel and Soria hit their mark with plenty of attitude and just enough snark to let their characters come to life. Warren Pleece’s art marvelously captures the humor of the mundane that lend the book’s crew of late-night wage-slave vamps believability and energy. A really fun read!
It’s a story of what it’s like to be in your mid-twenties without a clue about where you’re going or who you want to be….a fascinating, thoughtful read.
School Library Journal
The verdict: The combo of vibrant illustrations and biting social commentary make this one of this year’s most entertaining reads. In the cluttered field of vampire tales, Abel’s and Soria’s hip take really raises the stakes. The characters are all complex, and their plight reveals culture/immigrant clashes in this nation.
The Mercury News
Within this love triangle an incisive satire of Goth subculture and its obsession with vampires emerges (the real vampires mock the poseurs). Well-chosen rich, dark-coloured panels conjure the California stripmall milieu seen at night, capturing dusk and dawn without being gloomy. It’s a long, satisfying read that both subverts and rises above the paranormal genre, giving even minor characters room to breathe, and deglamorizes, if you will, the vampire mystique.
The Globe and Mail
“Abel and Soria’s light approach, combined with Pleece’s bright, Technicolor art, gives the book an entertaining Joss Whedon gloss to its Gen-Y bloodsucking melodrama.”
praise for La Perdida
The real joy here is that you should see it coming given how skillfully Abel layers in the inevitability of the twist. Suddenly [La Perdida] jolts from quotidian travelogue to thrilling adventure territory.
New York Times Book Review 6/06 (Editor’s Choice: 6/11/06)
La Perdida is a sharp cautionary tale about the perils of shady friends and slippery cultural footing.
Entertainment Weekly 4/06 (Grade: A-)
La Perdida is as layered, well-realized and vivid as an autobiography, but without the lingering taint of self-absorption.
The Onion AV Club 4/06 (Grade: A)
It’s half comic book, half movie—an indescribable reading experience that you’ll have to try for yourself.
NPR All Things Considered 5/06
(All Things Considered Summer Reading List, Talk of the Nation Summer Reading List)
What really makes the story compelling…is Abel’s sensitivity to character and dialogue—Carla is the narrator, but she’s hardly a heroine, and the way crucial meanings are lost in translation ratchets up the dramatic tension.
Publishers Weekly 1/06 (Starred review, best of 2006 list)
Carla’s naïve idealism rings all too true.
Spin 3/06 (Grade: B+)
Abel writes like a dramaturge, developing character and conflict mostly through articulate dialogue that ping-pongs between her smart, if oftentimes deluded or flawed characters.
Time.comix 3/06 (Best Comic of 2006)
An emotional, beautifully crafted odyssey that not only utilizes but transcends both navel-gazing self-discovery and backpackers-in-peril clichés.
Kirkus Reviews 1/06
A compelling blend of youthful arrogance and innocence [the protagonist of La Perdida] Carla is one of the most gripping graphic characters in years.
Kirkus Graphic Spotlight 7/06
Abel returns to many of the same themes that have made her decade-long comic Artbabe a pill-popper for the female and alienated—questions of art, lust, rage, and separating out the genuinely sweet goateed boys from the frat-boy poseurs. La Perdida [part one], with its sly sophistication, wisdom, and Burroughs-inflected cliff-hanger ending, promises that the completed series may approach something deserving of the word epic.
San Francisco Chronicle 1/02
praise for Artbabe
…Abel has developed into a wonderfully literate comics storyteller and a skilled draftsperson. …Abel’s black and white drawings are as assured, sensitively rendered and delightfully personal as her prose.
Publisher’s weekly 1/01
The Artbabe series is good fiction, meaning it isn’t perforce autobiographical, but it reads so realistically, and tells stories of such a personal and introspective nature, it might as well be.
American Book Review 5/01
Jessica finds urban lyricism in the most unexpected moments. Jessica gets the Everyman. She gets fiction.
San Francisco Focus Magazine 2002
One of Abel’s great talents is her ability to bestow dignity on characters who do the wrong thing for the right reasons…La Perdida only seems simple; it’s actually sharp, complex, and devastating.
The Stranger (Seattle) 12/02
Abel has been providing thoughtful, sensitive renderings of the lives of the post-feminist generation since 1992.
Kirkus Reviews 9/05
“Viva!” Is a model of narrative compression. One part Harvey Kurtzman, one part Robert Altman.
Spin Magazine 8/97
Abel’s deliverance to the alternative comic community and her success within it seems almost predestined.
Chicago Tribune 8/97
She nails down her characters’ living rooms and postures, their T-shirts, cars, and bars and her ear for the awkward, emotional dialogue of young, disaffected urban adults makes her characters uncannily real.
Chicago Magazine 2/98
“Decatur, IL” is an excellent work characterized by a subtlety which artfully blends forms and content to make a larger critical point, something that is all too rare amongst the current generation of American cartoonists.
The Comics Journal 6/98
Jessica Abel rocks my world.
Jessica Abel has managed to score a victory for the sisterhood in the man’s world of American comics.
The Face 11/98
Strong characterization, accurate dialogue, and a knack for capturing milieu. The end of each story leaves you wishing you could find out what happens next. Abel is a graphic storytelling talent to watch.
One thing is certain: the universe is a better place when Abel is at her drawing table.
Arizona Republic 12/00