Archive for category Subject: Cartooning

Monstrously Funny Cartoons || Christopher Hart

OK, let’s be clear. You stand very little risk of needing your sides stitched back together if you venture into the pages of this book, but the title is a pun (you’d guessed, hadn’t you?). Actually, I managed to raise a smile at most of the pages. This is an engaging book that’s full of ideas if you fancy creating a world of amusing monsters.

I like Christopher Hart. He has a way of creating characters in a very few lines and of conveying his working methods succinctly and clearly. The book is full of good ideas and manages that tricky thing of not looking as though it’s been written by someone who’d like to be a cartoonist but isn’t quite good enough. (The best practitioners are too busy at their craft to write books about it). The instruction is fun, straightforward and produces results. Job done, I’d say.

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Cartooning – everything you need to know || Franklin Bishop

The thing you notice about cartooning books after a while is that they’re never written by people you’ve heard of. A little thought and you realise that this is because the best-known names are too busy actually drawing to write a book. And then you realise that it’s also a blessing in disguise because you won’t land up emulating a style everyone else recognises as well. In reality, you probably have seen work by Franklin Bishop (and other writers of cartooning books), but you don’t realise it because he/they are more of a chameleon, drawing to suit the style of the commission than to represent themselves.

Anything that calls itself “everything you need to know” is giving a hostage to fortune, but the truth is that this is an excellent little primer in the art of cartooning and is packed with ideas and practical advice that you get you started and well on the road.

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The Cartoonist's Bible || Franklin Bishop

The first thing you notice when you look at a book on cartooning is that they’re never (ever) written by anyone you’ve heard of. Initially, there’s a pang of disappointment; after all, what you’d really like is to hear how [insert name of favourite cartoonist] goes about things. But hang on a minute, all those people have readily identifiable styles. They draw like they draw and you can spot their style a mile off. You wouldn’t want to draw like that yourself, what you want is to develop an individual style that makes you stand out in just the same way.

So, you’re going to have to put up with another commercial artist whose work you’ve probably seen hundreds of times without knowing it because they work to order and in almost any required style. Suddenly it doesn’t sound too bad, it starts to make sense. Unfortunately this book didn’t come with an information sheet, so I can’t tell you who Franklin Bishop is, but don’t let that worry you. He’s OK, sound, knows his stuff.

The Artist’s Bible series has previously been working its way through a variety of painting media and making a damn good fist of it. From a small, but not constricted, page size and a lay-flat binding, the various titles offer basic advice on a wide range of techniques and application methods, most of which are handled across a single spread so that you can get potted information easily and concisely. What you sacrifice in depth of information, you get back in ease of use and clear presentation that, most of the time, will tell you as much as you need to know as a starting point or for general information.

This particular book runs through tools and materials, basic drawing and types of cartoon as well as covering the process of going professional and a look at the various markets before concluding with a rather handy gallery of expressions.

You know what’s nagging me? Every page of this book I look at, I think, “I’ve seen this bloke’s work somewhere”. He’s got to be working under other names. You may not have heard of him, but I’d swear you’ve seen his work.

The Artist’s Bible series is originated by the packager Quarto, who have been in the forefront of illustrated book design for many years and deserve a mention.

First published 2006

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Cartooning Foundation Course || John Richardson

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

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