Tips From The Top Cartoonists

This past week, I was helping my parents move, and while rummaging through my old junk, I found a very familiar, tattered book full of drawing tips from a number of notable cartoonists. Seeing it again after all these years, I remembered what a large impact it had on me, as I pored over the information in this book more than any other "how to" book.

In fact, I generally don’t like "how to" books, since so few of them have valuable real world tips and techniques. I prefer to either look at good examples of a final product, or listen to artists just talk about their work methods in the simplest terms. The brilliant thing about this book is that the cartoonists only had two pages to describe all aspects of their work process, so what you end up with is a very dense documentation of many work methods. Some examples of Bil Keane’s and Dick Locher’s pages.

A cartoonist has the power to communicate complex ideas very quickly, clearly, and often with very little room to move. Whether it was intended or not, this book takes that to heart. It’s brimming with creative energy, and is packed with some great quick tips from some amazing cartoonists. I was very, very lucky to have been introduced to this by my godparents Juni and Yae when I was 5 years old. Along with my issues of CARtoons, MAD, and Bill Peet stories, this is the book that taught me to draw. Here are examples from the pages of Bill Melendez (animation, too!), Alfredo Alcala, and some interior cover art by editor Don Christensen.