The problem with books on cartooning is that they tend not to be written by people whose work you know and love. The result is that, however good they may be, they don’t produce a recognisable result. The obverse of that, of course, can be a good thing: a cartoonist’s work is highly individual and the last thing you want is not to have a style of your own. At least this way you don’t get sucked in by emulating someone you already admire.
So, here I am sitting on the fence. Can I have my cake and eat it? Is it even wise to try to eat cake while sitting on a wooden divider of territory?
I’m going to leave that one (rather like myself) hanging in the air. I think we’re on safer ground if we start to talk about the techniques of drawing cartoons, of which there’s plenty here. The first thing to say is that this is a book about creating characters, not (I contend) about cartooning itself. A cartoon can be a strip or a single drawing, but the point is that it tells a story and there’s none of that here. All the figures stand entirely alone and it’s up to you to put them together if you want to.
The other issue I have is the strongly 1960’s feel to the style and not, I think, in a retro way. This rather limits the appeal of the book. The other factor is that the characters all look like squared-off Manga figures (coincidentally, I’ve reviewed a Manga series by the same author in this batch). It’s the simplified, graphic bodies and the over-emphasised eyes that do it. Then again, if you want to be able to create cartoon characters with a few simple lines and are prepared (as you should be) to do a lot of adaptation, there’s much to learn and a great deal of sound instruction and advice here.
So, come on, what are you saying, should we buy the book or not? Well, I’m still stuck on this fence, remember and I can’t climb down until someone takes this rather delicious chocolate cake off me. I think this is a book you should look at if you can, and certainly before you buy. If you like it, you’ll thank me for bringing it to your attention and, if not, for giving you the heads-up. Now can I have my cake back please?
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