This past week I taught my Cartooning class for After School Enrichment at the local elementary school. I love teaching this class, especially after last year's comment exclaimed by a third grader, "I never knew cartooning could be so much fun". Yes, that's why we do it! Thing is, I could stand up in front of these eager minds and tell them how to draw cartoons. (Heaven knows, I've bought a million cartooning books over the past 25 years that tell just that.) But, where can they go from there? A problem many artists have faced over the years: the dreaded blank piece of paper.
So, I share with the group a great quote by Joseph Barbera, of Hanna-Barbera fame: "Making cartoons means very hard work at every step of the way, but creating a successful cartoon character is the hardest work."
Then, I read from the last page of David Horvath's book, HOW TO DRAW UGLYDOLL, where David offers this advice: "Want a really awesome tip? Try this one: instead of telling everyone what you plan on drawing, just draw and show us what you've come up with! And repeat!" (I talked with David before my first class for some sage advice and he offered the same tip. I've known David since he was 10 years old and his mom, one of my dearest friends, used to spend entire weekends driving around LA looking for Star Wars action figures. I'm a big fan!)
So, the big secret to learn how to draw cartoons is to draw, draw, and draw some more. But, what do you draw? Thinking, thinking, thinking...
In my cartooning class, we spend about 20 minutes having a blast brainstorming every monster, fairy, animal, and human -- and then we list every outrageous adjective, adverb, action, and characteristic known to man (or elementary student). Their minds are amazing! Then, voila, we have about 500+ ideas to draw!
As the kids start filling up their sketchbooks and large sheets of paper with the most creative and imaginative creatures, I share with the group about ten other secrets about cartooning. And, I can't list them here because, well, they're secrets!
Interesting NF Cartooning Books for Kids*
At our local library, I try to make a pass by the cartoon books. Most times it looks like a bomb went off with huge gaps of missing books, which leads me to believe that people are checking out nonfiction books on cartooning. Librarians, feel free to chime in on this one. Here's a few of the new cartooning books in case you might be looking for a few.
First Second March 2009
Different than most "how-to" cartooning books. Starts by stating that anyone can draw --- which is so true, and is not said enough. Hilarious, fun reading adventure that will inspire all to pick up a pencil and draw "stuff".
How to Draw Uglydoll
by David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim
Walter Foster August 2006
Big Book of Things to Draw (Usborne Art Ideas)
by Fiona Watt, Anna Milbourne, Rosie Dickens
Usborne Books January 2007
Well-organized book with plenty of things to draw!
Anyone have a favorite cartooning book?
*Note: I only listed books published within the past year or two for elementary grade students. Maybe a post on Middle Grade and YA cartooning books is in order!