Wednesday, February 23, 2011


For my 17th birthday, my Pop got me what was probably the most influential book of my life.

The Marvel Try-Out Book, for anyone who doesn't know, was designed for creative people who wanted to get into the comic book industry. It showed very clearly and concisely the steps that were taken by each member of the creative staff in order to produce a single issue of a comic.

Printed on 11x17 bristol board, it started out as a regular story - written by Jim Shooter, penciled by John Romita JR., inked by Al Milgrom, lettered by Jim Novak, and colored by Christie Scheele. After 3 pages, the story lost it's color, and the reader was assigned the task of coloring. Tips were given and a description of the tools that a colorist uses were listed. 4 pages later, the inks disappeared and the reader was asked to ink the pencils ( printed in non-photo blue). Then the lettering was gone and the reader was given 2 pages of script and was asked to letter it. Then the script vanished leaving only the pencils that were drawn from the plot,  and the reader was asked to script the story ( as well as letter, ink, and color it). After that the pencils were gone leaving the reader with only a plot for 5 pages to draw from. Finally the book just ended and the reader was expected to finish it.

I tried my hand at the coloring, inking, lettering, scripting, and penciling portions of this book. As interesting and educational as this book was, it was also incredibly difficult and overwhelming, especially to a 17 year-old kid with no experience whatsoever. Here's one of the pages that I penciled and inked from the plot that was given.

I ended up putting the book aside for a number of years. I returned to it in the summer of 1992 when I decided to "get serious" about what I wanted out of life. I skipped all of the steps and went straight to the pencils. After completing the 5 pencil pages and I started coming up with pages to draw on my own- in 3 to 5 page increments. Here's the pencils I did from the Try-Out Book in 1992:

Although these pages are very raw, they were a really good starting point for going where I wanted to.

The Marvel Try-Out book was invaluable to me. Because of it, I really learned how these books were put together. I also learned what I was personally capable of. Every once in a while, I toy with the idea of going back and drawing these pages again. It might be interesting to compare what I can do now with what I did back then. Unfortunately, this book is currently out of print, however a copy can be found on Amazon  and on ebay