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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: 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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4Panel Friday amreading Art comics

Four Panel Friday (on Saturday): Little Buddies



Up this week is cartoonist Alex Schubert. Alex’s strips were regularly featured in Vice.

Here Alex demonstrates how simple shapes, spread across four panels, can tell a story.

From: Comics: Easy as ABC! The Essential Guide to Comics for Kids

By: Ivan Brunetti

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Art comics Drawings writer's inspiration

Cartoonist Lynda Barry keeps us going


I remember picking four comics that I was going to read for the rest of my life. And one of those was Family Circus.

Lynda Barry

Let Lynda Barry’s encouraging words on drawing and Canada and Family Circus, help you through today.

Then go make some marks. Doodle. Sketch. Write a few bad sentences. Edit. Draw some more. Read.

Keep going.