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Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice Paperback – March 29, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is the best book ever written, as far as I'm concerned. . . . It's the best book I've ever read on cartooning, and it's so generous. It's like, anybody can do this. The book is so good."—Lynda Barry, cartoonist
(Lynda Barry)

"Brunetti has given the cartooning world something very similar to what Strunk & White gave to prose with their Elements of Style. . . . keep it right next to your desk where you can find it at a moment's notice."—Tim O'Neil, PopMatters.com
(Tim O'Neil PopMatters.com)

“A simple yet sophisticated guide . . . inculcate[s] a sense of cartoons as an essentially literary form.”—Wall Street Journal
(Wall Street Journal)

“Not everyone can be Charles Schulz or Ivan Brunetti, but if you give your time and best efforts to the program laid out in Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice, you might be more of yourself.”—Bob Duggan, Big Think
(Bob Duggan Big Think)

About the Author

Ivan Brunetti has published several graphic novels and taught courses on editorial illustration and comics at the University of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago. His drawings have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, and McSweeney's, among other publications, and he served as editor for Yale University Press's two-volume Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 88 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; Reprint edition (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300170998
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300170993
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
The obvious parts of graphic fiction come to mind first: long-legged manga babes in shortie skirts, muscled superheroes, snide political satires in the op-ed section, or dynamic page layouts and bursting word balloons. Beginning artists spend a lot of time developing their visual style or brand, too. And then there's the all-important mastery of computer skills needed to make art in today's world.

Phooey. All you need, at least to start, is a pencil, a notebook, and the ability to tell a story in pictures. Look at the artwork in some of the most popular comics ever: Dilbert, for example, or Charlie Brown. The imagery has been stripped to the bare minimum, but expression, character, and plot come through intensely even with minimalist drawing. That's what Brunetti presents, in this outline for a 15-week course in cartooning. Various exercises show how to make use of tiny distinctions in marks, or to explore the world of ideas and assemble its found objects into works of art.

When it comes to the cartoonist's tools, Brunetti emphasizes that only the very best will do - and the one tool that matter's is the creative mind. Musicians play scales, athletes exercise, and actors rehearse. How could anyone think that visual storytelling could demand any less of its practitioners? Get ready for some hard work, not in creating works of wit or beauty, but in building yourself up to be the person who can.

- wiredweird
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Format: Paperback
I had no idea what I was getting when I read Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice by Brunetti. I think I expected something more like Scott McCloud's excellent guides.

But this is not the same, and that's absolutely a good thing. If you are interested in comics enough to be looking at this, you will probably enjoy this book. It's a syllabus, and a lesson plan, and it's entirely worth reading whether you intend to learn and practice, or whether you're just interested in the comics form.

Brunetti's introduction, plan, and suggestions are clearly words spoken from someone who has refined their approach to comics over a long time. The words are at times thoughtful and funny, and the examples and plans are well organized.

I do not draw. I read a fair amount of comics, and as a very basic self-guided study, Cartooning is a great entry-course whether you're going to use it as a jumping-off point for creating, or simply to look a little harder at what goes into making comics as unique as they are.

Another of Brunetti's books, Aesthetics: a Memoir has a lot of examples similar to those used in this book. It's a very fine companion piece to see more of what Brunetti describes in terms of approach and result.
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I am working my way through the lessons in this book. The emphasis is on developing your own visual and manual fluency, where other books start with heads and eyes and expressions. The result, then, is much richer than the "anybody can cartoon" genre, which teaches the tired old conventions. I think I would not recommend this book to pure beginners -- better for students who need to take a fresh approach with their intermediate or advance beginner skills.
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As a way of jump-starting your creative processes around the art of cartooning, look no further than this wonderful little volume by Ivan Brunetti which guides the would-be cartoonist directly to the 'heart' of a good cartoon in a few well chosen and effective exercises. If you're looking for a detailed manual on technique, penmanship or colouring, please look somewhere else. But, if you need a complete makeover on the very spirit of cartooning then this book is absolutely ESSENTIAL.
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I teach introductory graphic design and typography courses at the college level. I found this book fascinating and excellent for improving my courses. The author has been teaching this cartooning course for years, and he has simply and succinctly condensed a 15-week course into a 75 page book. He starts with a complete syllabus and annotated supply list, then moves on to the assignments. They start very basic, and each assignment builds on the last. The focus throughout is on technique, craft, and storytelling. This approach would be helpful for any art or design student, and I bet the course could be helpful for any professional communicator or marketer, regardless of artistic skill. The author does a great job of encouraging students' creativity while keeping them honest in terms of technique and craft. Reading this book is helping me immensely in planning my next course.
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Things look bigger and you assume they are thicker when you see them on the internet. But this little book packs a lot of good ideas into few pages. I only hold back one star because I am a tough grader and would have liked more. Especially more cartoons and images, though the ones included are very rewarding. I agree with Brunetti's concept of what a cartoon is and am right on board with the creative process he coaches you to try to go for, including spontaneity and making use of happy accidents. His writing is at a level that makes this fun to read. Again, I only wish there was more of it here. I especially got a laugh out of his take on political cartoons, which I disagree with but the way he wrote it had me laughing out loud.
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