Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Book Review: The TOON Treasury of Classic Children's Comics

The TOON Treasury of Classic Children's Comics

Vintage "Comic" Comics

This is an awesome collecton of some of the nicest comics that one would have read and relished as a little kid.

First of all the book is very well put together physically.

* The size simply stuns you!... humongous book
* Stacked with page after...page after..page of full color comics
* Printed in an amazingly thick matt (non-glossy, non-shiny) paper
* Brings out the vividness of the pen/brush art and the true colors
* The soft off-white page color makes them as they appeared in the originals
* The binding is perfect, nice to grab and handle.
* There is enough margin space, and the author/story name is printed along

Other publishers should take a note from this book. The glossy/shiny papers that we have suddenly become fixated with, ruins the art.

This lovely collection includes comics from the 40/50s of
* Unca Scrooge
* Donald Duck
* Dennis the menace
* Little Archie
* Little Lulu
* Pogo
* Fox and Crow
* Captain Marvel

to name a few.

Each character is present in one,two or three stories max, and hence makes a nice mix of all the nice stories.

There are 67 stories in total grouped into five categories,
* Hey, Kids
* Funny Animals
* Fantasyland
* Story Time
* Wacky & Weird

This is a must for the oldtimers who want to get back in time to catch up on some of their best times, and this is awesome for newcomer kids(as well as adults ofcourse) to get introduced to some of the nice stories and comics of a simple, innocent and happy era.

Kudos to the editors and the publisher. we want to see more of these.

You can't go wrong with this one, that too with the steep discounted price!

This is an extract from my review at Amazon.com, You can find more of my reviews here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Herge's Guide To Comic Book Compositon

This is an extract from the refreshing book on Herge's life , Herge: The Man Who Created Tintin.

1. Find a story line sturdy enough to hold for the whole course of the adventure. A simple chase connecting gags is not enough.

2. Find a story that is believable enough to seem true. Jot it down on paper, in twenty lines, maximum.

3. Divide up the story, panel by panel, plate by plate. Each page has to conclude with an element of suspense.

4. Penciling-in stage: sketch the figures with a cursory background drawn with 9-cm (3.54-in) squares on Steinbach paper measuring 51 by 36 cm (20 by 14 in) in size, within a useful format of 40 by 29.5 cm (15.75 by 11.6 in), which is to say twice as large as a book page. Divide the sheet into four strips of 9.5 by 29.5 cm (3.74 by 11.6 in ) each, separated by a blank space 6.5 cm 2.55 in) wide. (The blank areas were used as scrap paper, combining all the early versions. All sorts of notations were scribbled there: portraits, objects, landscapes, lists of names, addresses, and telephone numbers.)

5. Final drawings are copied square by square to offer a better selection and re framed and placed on another white page, which Will become the definitive plate. Touch-ups and final details are added. Copy is moved around. Herge ceaselessly sought simplification. is objective: hide the scaffolding.

6. Coloring stage: focus on the costumes and the background decor, relying on a solid base of documentation. Exactitude is required, as the settings (desert, sea, moon, jungle) aren't static.

7. The inking stage is done on Schoeller-Parole paper, with a Gillott's Inqueduct G-2 pen(made in England) of stainless steel, which can be cleaned in water and has a small ink reservoir. (Herge stocked up on these pens before the war. Thirty years later he still had a few. He used to sharpen them with a steel file to conserve them as long as possible.)

8. Photographed by the photo engraver, the black-and-white plate is transferred to transparent film accompanied by several proofs on blue-gray paper.

9. More coloring: the colors applied in flats do not take into account for bright colors, and, if necessary, gouache for opaque colors. (Herge established standard guidelines. For example, there were to be two superimposed layers for Tintin's sweater to bring out the color's full intensity.)

10. Set out the dialogues on the typewriter to gauge the exact number of letters for each vignette, to calculate, with the help of a grid, their position in the dialogue balloons. Draw in the letters. Lettering is delicate because it poses numerous problems. (At these times they also had to consider the English translators, who had to change the French Milou into "Snowy", the only acceptable name in five letters that would not exceed the line when Tintin spoke to his dog.)

11. Last, add the graphics of sound effects, which consist essentially of "Crack!" "Bang" "Bzzzz".

Friday, December 25, 2009

Marcinelle School

Franco - Belgian comics have a charm that is so unique. It has produced a vast volume of still growing comics of various categories. The most popular output from this part of the world is undoubtedly Herge's Tintin, and Goscinny - Uderzo's Asterix. Ever wondered how these two look so different yet so similar?

What is distinct about these comics? ...The style.

Herge and his group of artists such as E P Jacobs (Blake and Mortimer) evolved a style that uses uniform lines, more schematic in appearance, with a simple and straight forward narrative, with realistic (sometime mechanical) backgrounds and props. Even the palette was unique adding to the charm. The story was more realistic mostly related to the current happenings at the time. This has a great appeal and following and one can see this followed today in works such as The Simpsons.

This style came to be known as the Brussel's School or the Ligne Claire to mean a Clear Line.

While this was happening there was a parallel approach to graphic story telling that had more of fantasy, cartoonish realism, fun, humour and physical dynamic action. The lines are mostly made of brush and have varying thickness, similar to classic Disney cartoons. Uderzo's Asterix was an example of such style. Artist Jijé (Joseph Gillain) is credited for his contribution towards establishing this style among a group of artists. One can see this style in Lucky Luke, Oumpah -pah and a variety of other works. One can see this tradition followed till day in the publications such as Dupuis.

This style came to be known as the Marcinelle School or École de Marcinelle, after the namesake town in Belgium near Charleroi.

Well these are academics. Marcinelle or Brussels.. who cannot love them both?!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Book Review : Herge: The Man Who Created Tintin

Herge: The Man Who Created Tintin by Pierre Assouline (Author), Charles Ruas (Translator)

Interesting Insight into Herge's Life

For anyone who is a fan of Herge's works, be it the evergreen reporter Tintin and his adventures, or his funny Quick and Flupke, or the more familial Jo, Zette and Jocko , there is no such thing as enough when it comes to any literature related to the artist or his art.

Last few years has seen a surge in books on Herge and Tintin, Michale Farr's works in particular, and the newly translated Art of Herge series have given new insights into the working of Herge. How he went about creating the stories, what he used for his ever so detailed art work as reference, etc.

This book by Pierre Assouline is a refreshingly new look at the life and times of Herge. The focus is now on the happenings in the background as Herge went about spinning tale after tale of adventure and fun. It gives a very balanced and unbiased view on Herge, his political social situation, his views and attitudes, and how the political situation in Europe during the early twentieth century was shaping the creativity of Herge and others like him.

It talks about interesting things that artists, readers and anyone interested in Tintin, French/Belgian, European art/journalism in that part of history, will find very informative. This also gives a good coverage on some controversial aspects such as racial stereotyping and such. And how Herge was simply being himself, in tune with the times, plain and straight and not worrying about "political correctness" or being a hero. Those were indeed strange times, to learn that Herge was imprisoned for alleged 'collaboration' with the German occupation and some even thought he should be hanged!!

The book is full of little stories that give answers to so many questions that we might have, artistically and otherwise, for instance, here is a story about how Herge hired a very talented Jacob who influenced Herge in bringing in meticulous details to the mechanical drawings of cars and airplanes. Numerous such stories fill the book. How people, events and situations influenced the artist in his creation are a very interesting read.

The book takes the reader through the life of Herge during his creative professional years, evolution of the stories, evolution of the formats, how it all started as political journalism, as newspaper strip with the journalist investigating communist Russia, colonial Africa etc., and how the Tintin series itself matures and became more sophisticated as time progressed, with adventurous stories such as the Red Rackham's treasure and the The Destination Moon sequels. We also learn about how the series was revised, reformatted, colored and transformed into a uniform series, and how much of time and labour went into it.

The book is very well paced, like that of an exciting novel, that you want to finish it all in one go. but being a great fan of Herge and his works, one wants to sip it in ever so slowly, enjoying every bit of it as we enjoy Herge's works.

This is an extract from my review at Amazon.com, You can find more of my reviews here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Book Review : Cartooning: Character Design :

Cartooning: Character Design: Walter Foster Books: Sherm Cohen

Outstanding !

This is an outstanding piece of work in teaching character design/cartooning. Only a person with tremendous experience can produce all the essentials in just 32 pages !!

Format: The book is Large! 13.7 x 10.1, the drawings are so clear in this format, which is very important, for us to study and draw. We can just keep it open and start drawing. Drawings are all either in pencil or in black india ink using a brush, which is simply lovely.

Concise: The book is small! :) only 30 pages. so it is very easy to work it through, refer, study and learn. no page is wasted. each page is packed with plenty of drawings with detailed notes, that are so refined and upto the point!

Clear: The large format, clear lines and step by step approach, makes this book so clear and easy to follow.

Workbook: The approach of the book is to take us in a workbook manner, as you study, draw, redraw, practice each of the pages progressively you will get to learn about various aspects of character design (and cartooning) is systematic manner. learning and mastering basic shapes, the Head, the features of the head, variations, body shapes, "Types", body language etc.. and if one sincerly works this book through, one would have become a character designer !.

This would form perfect platform to launch into cartooning, animation and more advanced character design through books such as ,
Cartoon Animation (The Collector's Series),
The Animator's Survival Kit--Revised Edition: A Manual of Methods, Principles and Formulas for Classical, Computer, Games, Stop Motion and Internet Animators,
Creating Characters with Personality: For Film, TV, Animation, Video Games, and Graphic Novels

Sherm Cohen and Walter Foster.. Thank you!

This is an extract from my review at Amazon.com, You can find more of my reviews here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lawrence Lariar Cartooning for Everybody

Lawrence Lariar was a cartoonist,educator and editor of the long running series Best Cartoons of the Year.

Lawrence Lariar wrote a nice little book titled Cartooning for Everybody in 1941.

After learning about this book in walt Stanchfield's recently published work, I started scouting for a copy and I was lucky enough to procure one in great condition.

Here are my impressions..

One quick scan of the book tells us so much about the depth of understanding of Lariar.

No wonder Walt speaks highly of Lariar. each page is packed with absolutely useful information. There is a great deal of emphasis on doodling, and carrying a sketch book.

I think this book defined doodling.

For great many of us learning to draw, the first steps are the most intimidating. How do you begin a drawing?, where do you start? whether you are drawing from life, photograph, or from imagination, this most important first step is often unclear.

Lariar, like other master teachers, who know what was happening in the head while one draws, tells you to always begin with a doodle. Unlike the conventional meaning of doodle, which is more like scribbling, Lariar means the doodle to be some kind of a template for all our drawings. A simplified pattern language that needs to evolve for each individual, to be used over and over, to produce remarkable consistency with ease.

There are some very significant teachings in these pages, on how one evolves a style, what one should focus while learning, what one can pass etc.

There are plenty of demonstrations on various aspects of cartooning, and he also covers quite a bit of how to go about making a profession out of this skill. This of course is 70 year old book. but much of the tips still seem to hold, in spite of fact that the world has slowly migrated into the Net.

True Gem of a book!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Eugene ZIM Zimmerman Complete Cartooning Course Reprint

ASIFA Hollywood Animation Archive's Reprint of close to a hundered years old Zim's Complete cartooning Course debuts at the San Diego Comic-Con 2009.

The famed, and extensive course on cartooning, comic arts and caricature from the early 20th century, have been beautifully digitized and reprinted by ASIFA.

This is available in two large hardback volumes containing 20 lessons in total.

Read about Zim, his works and his course at..


Details on how to obtain these books and more at...


A downloadable preview is here. (14 MB PDF)


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Willard Mullin

The essence of any drawing is the gesture. This we see emphasised over and over again. A recent printing of Walt Stanchfield's notes focuses a lot on this aspect.

Nobody could have absorbed this better and applied them in their work than sports illustrator Willard Mullin (1902-1978). His drawings are an study in gesture, action, force, energy and expression. All that goes into Animation drawing.

A nice little bio can be found here.

Mullin contributed to the Famous Artists School course. His lessons on drawing animals can be found here.

Here is a picture set on Flicr.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Book List

This will contain a list of books that I have used and have had real impact in my pursuit of learning the art, and which I fairly feel should do the same more or less to others as well..

Drawing / Illustration
Vilppu Drawing Manual
Natural Way to Draw
Dynamic Figure Drawing
Drawing the Human Head
Famous Artists Commercial Art and Illustration Course
Famous Artists Cartooning Course

The Animator's Workbook
Cartoon Animation
Timing For Animation
The Animator's Survival Toolkit
The Illusion Of Life

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Glenn Vilppu Sketching On Location

Glenn Vilppu wrote another wonderful series for the Animation World Network . This is about sketching at any location live. this is a great way of learning to draw as well as record the unique aspect of what we see.

This is a great series of articles on how to sketch on location, and also helps learn how to compose drawings in general.

When I first read these articles, they did not have that much of an impact. After couple of years of practising drawing, I go back to these lessons, and now I see them to be gems. Every word and picture is valuable information.

I recommend this previous post on Vilppu's Drawing lessons before jumping in.