Friday, March 9, 2012

Cartooning, Chris Hart Books and some of the other books I have used in the classroom...

In a former life I was a cartoonist. In particular I loved the artwork of Walt Kelly, Bill Watterson, Chuck Jones and Robert McKimson in particular. I think the first noticable piece of artwork I ever did was Fred Flinstone when I was either three or four. And my parents KNEW it was Fred Flinstone on first glance and not just me handing them a picture of something that looks like a potato and me saying "It's Fred Flinstone!" to their befuddled looks.

I can still channel my cartoonist past when needed. It's kind of like riding a bike where you really don't forget it. This style always comes in handy when I am teaching any of my 10 and under classes for the Worcester Art Musuem. It's easier to show students with cartoons how to create a character rather than with my normal style.

I'm always looking for new ways to show the students how to create characters. It's been a work in progress for me over the past eight or nine years. And I'm always looking for new techniques to make it easy for them to follow and easy for me to show them.

Sometimes it's difficult to relay on the board how to do what's in my head.

Recently I've been picking up a couple of the Chris Hart cartooning books. To be honest I'm not really sure what Chris Hart is famous for other than a series of cartooning books. However, I've been finding some of his techniques helpful in some of my classes so far.

Funny story. I was in Michaels recently. My wife Syd has been picking up supplies for her record bowls as well as other projects she is working on and I will pick up a few odds and ends myself. I had picked up one of the Chris Hart Books on Superhero and Adventure Cartoons and I was checking it out at the register.

The young woman behind the counter very cheerfully says to me "We offer cartooning classes here for children and adults", which I sheepishly reply "Actually, I teach cartooning classes" which she does a bit of a double take and then replies "Oh... then a guess you don't need them".

Which isn't entirely true. I know many art instructors that continue to take art classes. My pal Andy Fish teaches quite a few adult art classes at the Worcester Art Museum. And many of the students there are my WAM colleagues.

But the young woman was very nice and trying to be helpful. And I didn't want to humilate her by saying all that.

Actually, over the past eight or nine years, I've built up quite a library of books I have used in my classes. Most of them I encourage my students to check out on their own. Here's the short list:

HOW TO DRAW COMICS THE MARVEL WAY: Although some of the styles are a bit out-of-date, it's probably still one of the best books to learn the fundimentals of drawing comic books. I use it in many of my comic art and graphic novel classes. Besides! There are quite a few artists out there that still employ a retro style to their work.

ANIMATION 1 BY PRESTON BLAIR: One of my life long addictions has been animation. I could go on about it for hours at a time. I've even taught a few animation classes for both WAM and the Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School. And this is the book I first cut my teeth on when I took animation classes with Mark Lynch at WAM. And I still use it in my classes. Preston Blair worked with Tex Avery on many of his cartoons for MGM and this book is clear and concise on the steps it takes to create tradiational drawn animation.

CEREBUS'S GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING BY DAVE SIM: You love him or hate him. But he's made a living in the world of self-publishing. And has been fairly successful at it. I really need to get his updated version. The one I have is still his comic book style print.

The next four books I have on my shelf. They're actually books I've had since college. I don't always have the opportunity to use them but they're great to have on the shelf:



Brian Nelson said...

Hi Bret! To recommend three helpful books--out of print but well worth the search--I'll add Ken Muse's INTRODUCTION TO CARTOONING and SECRETS OF PROFESSIONAL CARTOONING and New Yorker cartoonist Richard Taylor's INTRODUCTION TO CARTOONING. Gene Byrnes's COMPLETE BOOK OF CARTOONING's also excellent and includes essays by Al Capp, Milton Caniff, Jim Flora and more.

Bret M. Herholz said...

Nice!! Thank you kindly Brian! I'll have to check those ones out sometime soon :-)

Comicbookrehab said...

I recall watching a video on how to draw hosted by Chris Hart - he does the "circle jaw" trick where you draw a circle halfway within another circle to create the mouth and chin, while the top circle is for the eyes and nose. I think I saved sketches of those drawings because the video was a rental - I was amazed at how it seemed like I could draw characters by following his tips.

How To Draw Comics the Marvel Way was one of the bibles fans carried around in their backpacks when I was a kid, although I recall Erik Larsen joked it should be called "How To Draw Marvel Comics Like John Busecema." :)

Bret M. Herholz said...

A friend gave me his copy when I was very young. His was already falling apart and being held together by duct tape. It finally fell apart on me during college.

A couple years later I ended up getting it really cheap at this bookstore. I think they were selling them for $4.95!!

I'm still using it and it has yet to fall apart on me :-)

Comicbookrehab said...

Duct tape, masking tape - these are the tools of the amateur bookbinder. ;)