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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Influential and Educational Books

One of the great sources of inspiration that I have tapped into, besides viewing the actual original artworks of artists that I admire, is a library of books I have amassed over the years related to the subject of cartooning and making comics. The very first book that had a significant impact on me in my younger days was a book called The Secrets of Professional Cartooning by Ken Muse, published by Prentice-Hall in 1981. It was a book primarily devoted to the creation and development of a comic strip for purposes of syndication, but it was incredibly thorough and provided very accessible knowledge about the entire process of cartooning--especially for a young person. Ken Muse was the author of a strip called Wayout that was syndicated from 1964 to 1970. It wasn't a great strip, but had its place amongst the strips of the day. The most significant aspect of this book was a section devoted to analyzing the work of other cartoonists such as: Milton Caniff, Charles Schulz, George McManus, Cliff Sterrett, EC segar, and Lank Leonard. It very clearly demonstrated the vast array of approaches to drawing methods that different cartoonists used. I still have my copy of this book, and despite it's old school approach, I still think it has a great deal to offer.

Years later I acquired several other books on drawing and cartooning (thank God for E-bay), such as Andrew Loomis's out of print series on figure drawing, and Gene Byrnes book on Drawing, Cartooning, Illustration and Painting. Another great discovery I made was a complete set of the Famous Artists Correspondence Course volumes from 1954. Again, it was quite dated material but extremely worthwhile reading nonetheless. Shortly after that I managed to acquire copies of the FA Cartooning books from 1967. Also very worthwhile reading.

I was curious as to whether any of you had any significant experiences with any art instruction or "How To" books, as you began your pursuits into making comics...?

14 Comments:

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Hope Larson said...

Right now I'm reading Bookmaking by Marshall Lee. It's an incredible book that covers not only the specifics for book production, but editing, proofreading, typography and design. How one person can know so much about every aspect of the book industry is beyond me. The price may seem a little steep, but trust me, it's worth it!

Other than that, I like The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner for kickstarting the writing process. There was another book I really liked, but I forget...

 
At 6:33 PM, Blogger T Campbell said...

Understanding Comics and How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way were good "formative" books for me-- obvious choices, but they bear repeating, especially since the latter tends to be underrated these days. (The ONLY way to draw comics? Of course not-- but rarely have the rules of a house style been so clearly spelled out, and learning one set of rules is a step toward making your own.)

 
At 6:32 AM, Blogger CamChes said...

Thanks Hope! I'm really intrigued by that bookmaking book...might be ordering soon.
T - yeah I think most of us have at least been exposed to those two books. I think Understanding Comics is really a classic, whether you agree with Scott's opinions or not...It really engages the reader in thinking about comics as a form. Along those lines there are Will Eisner's wonderful books on sequential art as well.
Marvel Way was another early discovery as well...looking at it again (after several years of not looking at it), there is a lot more to it than I remember. It is a singular approach though like yoiu said. It took me a few years of figure drawing to unlearn what I learned in Marvel Way, and get on to my own way. Its nice to look at it for what it is now. John Buscema drew very well didn't he?

 
At 7:18 PM, Blogger Alec said...

I don't know if this counts, but as a kid I used all of those Ed Emberly books which I loved dearly. (Sort of like Legos for drawing) Just the idea that you could create ANYTHING out of simple lines, circles, zig zags and squares was a pretty revolutionary thought for me. I remember finishing some of the bigger ones (like the dragon) and thinking "I can draw ANYTHING!!!" I think that feeling has stuck with me to some extent. I have some panels where I don't know HOW I'm going to draw something, but then when I manage to struggle through it, it's a great feeling.

 
At 9:13 PM, Blogger CamChes said...

Those look awesome Alec. I'm going to pick a few up for Joss.

 
At 10:50 PM, Blogger Mal Jones said...

How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way was HUGE for me growing up. I still use the "Scribble" method from the book when I draw now. I can actually picture the dynamic perspective lesson that was in the book in my head right now.

Seems like everyone mentioned the ones that stick in my head... Ed Emberly especially.

I just read Eisner/Miller and that's a how to book, by way of comic history that I recommend to everyone.

 
At 6:17 PM, Blogger Morgan said...

Bruce Blitz did a good book on creating and marketing comic strips. I can't recall the name of it (it's at home and I'm not). Currently Josh Blaylock of Devils Due is putting out a monthly text comic about self-publishing that has, so far, been pretty informative. it's a bit heavy on the business end and light on the art end, but it's still worth checking out.

 
At 9:03 AM, Anonymous The Masked Retriever said...

I shunned the "How to Draw Manga" books for the early part of my career due in part to the "wealth" of Bad Manga out there. However, as I found various very good Manga, I took a few looks back and found that there were lots of good and very generalized techniques in there.

Oh, and Ray Bradbury's Zen and the Art of Writing was pretty damn good.

 
At 8:57 PM, Blogger B Moore said...

I found some good info and inspiration in The Complete Book of Cartooning by John Adkins Richardson. It had solid information on tools and concepts, as well as reproducing a wide spectrum of cartoon art (Thurber, Eisner, Alex Raymond, Richard Corben, Holly Hobby, et al.) It really gave me a sense of how varied the art could be - a nice revelation after reading mostly superhero stuff and How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way.

The Muse book is great for the information on tools, and for the actual-size reproductions of original strip art.

 
At 11:13 PM, Blogger CamChes said...

Hey B Moore! The John Adkins Richardson book was the 2nd book on cartooning that I came across. I can't believe I forgot to mention it. So glad you did. It's superb, and a great deal more sophisticated than Muse.
Cheers.

 
At 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is cool dude but i just want to know how to make mine better.anyways check out my blog bye

 
At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just found your web site, and hope you dont mind me butting in, but...
When I was a kid, the best book I ever saw about cartooning and the art of comic books, dare I say it, was a book I can never find again. I bought it at one of the library book sales where they toss unread books. It was a encyclopedia like book called COMIX, and had a banana colored batman on an airplane with a ww like heroine called Miss america on the side. I was a kid a bit after the first bloom of west coast comics like crumb, and this book showed every kind of cartooning, from batman to the freak brothers.Has anyone else rad this book...?

T.

 
At 11:31 PM, Blogger Scott Sackett said...

I bought the "Comix" book a few weeks ago at my comic shop (the owner was selling some of his personal books)

I haven't read it yet, but it looks really cool!

I remember seeing ads for it in the comics when I was a kid and it looked strange enough to be mesmerising!

It's avaliable on Amazon, I think it's by Les Daniels.

 
At 12:35 PM, Blogger Antonius said...

Scott

I have looked all around and have found Comix for sale at barnes and noble and hope to buy a used copy for 5 bucks. It is the best comic BOOK ever made, as it shows how comics came out of one long line and grew in and out of themselves, like any art form.The batman story there showed that batman was never the mean drunk, closet queen he eventually became. I think I am looking for the jules pfiffer book next.

Avoid any book written by stan lee or,... horrors...Speigleman, that bloated fool who turned jews into rats and nazis into cats.PERSONALLY, I would have went with wolves and sheep, maybe, but then, I never liked Tom and Jerry.

 

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