A lot of books about cartooning concentrate on the gag and tell you very little about the actual process of constructing what is actually quite a complex and very specialised piece of artwork. They also, rather naturally, tend to major on the style of the author, which can be an obstruction when it comes to telling you, the reader, how to develop your own ideas and style.
John Richardson is not a household name in this field, and yet you have probably seen his work. More of a commercial artist, he specialises in developing ideas for posters and comics and also developing characters for newspapers and magazine. Stylistically, he is something of a chameleon, which ideally places him to write a book about the business of cartooning.
In this style of drawing, less is most definitely more: it’s about economy of line and of ideas. The first part of the process is to simplify the idea to a single message and then to convey it with the simplest possible drawing. John is absolutely excellent on the craft of line-work and, although he touches on the use of computers, his introduction to equipment contains much that is traditional, even the old-faithful Rapidograph.
He is also particularly sound on the construction of a drawing, basic outlines, hatching, ways to suggest movement and character and of layout methods, the area where cartooning most crosses over with graphic design.
In the hand, this does not feel like a substantial book, but there are 144 pages and it’s as well presented as we have come to expect from Cassell’s rather excellent Foundation Course series.
Year published 2006
List price: £15.99