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Robin Rendle’s Gorgeous Essay on Newsletters

I haven’t been surprised by the internet in a while. There’s all the common rants:

Social media sucks! Social media is the life changing wonder stick!

Substack sucks! Subtsack is majestical!

The 90s was the best decade ever! No! The 60s were utopia!

And all the other back-and-forth of opinions and wild fantasies that the internet harbors.

But then Robin Rendle‘s essay fell into my inbox – twice. (H.T. Austin Kleon and Alan Jacobs) His love note to newsletters and hope of a web for all, made for a bout of I’m finishing-this-damn-essay reading.

But it’s how he unleashed his essay, that shook my internet insides:

Using a combination of oldtimey illustrations, and funny, direct copy, he kills.

But it’s the scroll-and-read format of the essay which made it as memorable as the essay itself. I felt like I was slaloming through the piece rather than reading it.

Screenshots are weak.

Experience, read, view, contemplate, or disagree with Robin’s essay in it’s entirety below:

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Art comics Commonplace Book Design Drawings Thinkers

Cartoonists and Copywork

Ivan Brunetti offers up the cartoonist’s version of copywork in his masterclass book – Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice

Homework Assignment 8 reads:

To the absolute best of your ability, create an exact replica of your favorite page. Do not trace. Any deviation from the original should be unintentional on you part; ineptitude and sloppiness are charmless when deliberate.

Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice, pg 60. Brunetti, Ivan

Brunetti then urges his students to pay close attention to each element of their comics page:

Pay close attention to what you are copying. Think about the artist’s decisions regarding page layout, panel compositions, design, characterization, dialogue, gesture, captions, balloons, word placement, sound effects, line, shape, texture, etc. Hopefully you will gain some appreciation of their working and thinking process… and the difficulty of creating a comics page.

Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice, pg 60. Brunetti, Ivan

Brunetti practiced this version of copywork in his own career.

He took on the Nancy strip for a time. The pressure from the syndicate to copy Ernie Bushmiller‘s style precisely, further developed his cartooning technique.

I can tell exactly the time period in my work when I was doing these-the syndicate were such nitpickers about me copying Bushmiller’s style exactly that my approach to cartooning got much more precise as a result. I went from doing strips just to amuse myself, without a grand plan, to focusing on formal aspects of cartooning much more: where to place a word balloon, the composition of every panel, and the flow of panels.

In the Studio: Visits with Contemporary Cartoonists, pg 279. Hignite, Tom

Brunetti enjoyed the project while in the learning phase, but admitted it was an unpleasant way to work:

When you’re copying someone else’s style exactly, you can theorize about it, and actually break it down into a set of rules. So they way I was working by imitating him had almost nothing to do with the way he was working…I also realized that working this way was totally unpleasant, because there are very strict parameters you have to follow, rather than discovering the rules that work. The project was fun while I was discovering all of the rules; I would notice that he would never put certain kind of marks next to one another because they’d look wrong. I became very aware of every penstroke, where he used a ruler, where it was freehand. He had an intuitive sense of what looked good, so for me it was trying to codify this into a set of rules, which made me realize the importance of the consistency of your cartooning vocabulary.

In the Studio: Visits with Contemporary Cartoonists, pg 279. Hignite, Tom

Could Brunetti’s copywork exercise translate into other disciplines as well?

If you’re an aspiring graphic designer you could recreate your favorite logos, stroke by stroke, in illustrator?

Or if you’re a programmer, instead of cutting and pasting, you typed out lines of code, line by line, character by character?

With thought and imagination, copywork exercises can be applied to every discipline.

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4Panel Friday amreading Art comics

Four Panel Friday: Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson


I heard a theory once that the best superhero movies are the ones where the hero is on screen, in full costume, the least amount of time.

The idea being that it’s what’s happening behind the mask that is the most meaningful.

I wonder if this theory holds true on the comics page.

Bendis’ run on Ultimate Spiderman was filled with these un-cowled moments. Moments where Peter Parker experiences the power of being Spider-Man, but also the vulnerability of being human.

From: Ultimate Spiderman, Issue #5: Life Lessons

By: Brian Michael Bendis

Pencils: Mark Bagley

Inks: Art Thibert

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4Panel Friday amreading Art comics

Four Panel Friday (On Saturday): George Herriman’s Krazy Kat


A Krazy Kat Strip from January 22, 1926

Krazy Kat & the Art of George Herriman: A Celebration contains a number of Herriman’s original art pieces.

The Krazy Kat strip above, is “cut and stacked”. A layout method used to fit strips into different newspapers.

Krazy Kat & the Art of George Herriman: A Celebration is the best kind of book. It’s the kind of book you lose an afternoon to. You open a few pages to “have a look”, and an hour later you wonder where the time went.

From: Krazy Kat & the Art of George Herriman: A Celebration

By: Craig Yoe

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4Panel Friday amreading Art comics

Four Panel Friday: Wonder Woman pays Superman a Visit


Happy New Year!

In the last 10 years, comics have become more literary. They’ve explored deeper aspects of the human condition, similar to the great novels.

It’s been a wonderful progression for the form, but its made super hero comics easy to dismiss as frivolous.

Sure, super hero books can be shallow fist fight melees. But they can also be meaningful.

Alex Ross and Mark Waid demonstrate this well as Wonder Woman calls out a graybeard Superman for being a scared, shiftless, ….you get the idea.

From: Kingdom Come

By: Alex Ross, Mark Waid

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4Panel Friday amreading Art comics

Four Panel Friday: Seth. Winter’s Cartoonist.


Merry Christmas!

In my mind each season has a specific cartoonist assigned to it.

John Porcellino is fall. None better than John at depicting a walk on a chilly fall day.

Bill Watterson is summer. Watterson is an all season cartoonist, but his panels of Calvin and Hobbes’ summer break hi-jinks are unforgettable.

We’ll go Charles Schultz for spring. Charlie Brown is a baseball player, no question.

Winter? Which cartoonist leads us into winter best?

SETH.

The drawings in Seth’s classic winter tome – It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken. depict a frigid, contemplative, Canadian winter in a variety of settings:

A packed, pre-Christmas main street.

A government building taking in a snow storm.

A lonely house sitting in silence.

And a windy walk home.

World building at its finest.

See you next week.

From: It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken: A Picture Novella

By: Seth

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4Panel Friday amreading Art comics

Four Panel Friday: SpongeBob Comics – The Paul Karasik and R. Sikoryak team up!



Our SpongeBob theme continues…

The joy of the SpongeBob Comics Treasure Chest is in the variety of writers and artists telling SpongeBob stories in their own style.

Like other “best of” collections it opens up the possibilities of discovering artists and writers you weren’t familiar with.

That said, Paul Karasik and R.Sikoryak’s cartooning skills are SIK!

Both have published notable works – Paul Karasik of How to Read Nancy, and R. Sikorayak’s Terms and Conditions.

But as we know, the pinnacle of any cartoonist’s career is drawing SpongeBob stories.

Note: I’m not sure which of Paul or R.Sikorayak wrote or drew the story, but R.Sikorayak’s homages of old super hero comics appear in every panel.

From: SpongeBob Comics: Treasure Chest , I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planktons!

By: Paul Karasik and R.Sikoryak

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4Panel Friday amreading Art comics

Four Panel Friday: SpongeBob Comics, James Kochalka edition



Tolstoy.

Melville.

Dumas.

Kolchalka.

Yes, the classics should be read, must be read. But in-between reading the classics, SpongeBob Squarepants comics have their place.

Especially SpongeBob Comics written and drawn by James Kochalka.

Sidenote. SpongeBob the show first dropped in 1999!

From: SpongeBob Comics: Treasure Chest

By: James Kochalka

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Art comics Commonplace Book Drawings writer's inspiration

Seth’s storytelling advice to Noah Van Sciver. And you too, if you’d like…

Write about losers and loners. Don’t get dragged down that road of trying to resist your natural inclinations.

Seth

Noah Van Sciver has a YouTube channel.

Yeah!

The prolific cartoonist generously shares his works in progress, conversations with colleagues, and on occasion, words of encouragement.

A few days ago he read a letter of storytelling advice from fellow cartoonist, Seth.

Warning!

The letter contradicts most storytelling advice you’ve heard.

Keep drawing y’all.

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amreading architecture Art Commonplace Book Drawings

Drawing Lessons from Architect Matthew Frederick pt.3 Architectural Hand-Lettering


Handwriting, penmanship, this is all drawing. Hand-lettering can be another artistic tool to add to your kit.

Matthew Frederick shares 6 architectural hand-lettering principals to follow:

1. Honor legibility and consistency above all else.

2. Use guide lines (actual or imagined) to ensure uniformity.

3. Emphasize the beginning and end of all strokes, and overlap them slightly where they meet – just as in drawing lines.

4. Give your horizontal strokes a slight upward tilt. If they slope downward, your letters will look tired.

5. Give curved strokes a balloon-like fullness.

6. Give careful attention to the amount of white space between letters. An E, for example, will need more space when following an I than when coming after an S or T.

Matthew Frederick

This week, for fun, find ways to practice your architectural hand-lettering.

Write a thank-you note.

Write a love letter.

Write a haiku.

Then mail it out it to your lover, mother, or bestie.

Be sure to practice your hand-lettering on the to and from address on the envelope as well.

You’ll get some practice in, and they will receive a special gift.

Source: 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School, Matthew Frederick, pg 22