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...?