Adventures in Cartooning
by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost
If your child loves comics, would like to make comics, or wants to know what makes comics work, this title, beautifully designed in a paperback edition with French flaps, will lead the way. It’s also just a great how-to book because it breaks down drawing into its essential elements—lines, shapes, and colors. Because of the book’s disarming simplicity, Adventures in Cartooning at first appears to be aimed at the beginner. And certainly it has much to offer novices in terms of both textual and visual vocabulary, and even baseline drawing instruction. But the book also suggests the many uses for comics, from entertainment to education. A princess who believes she “just can’t draw well enough to make a comic!!!” inadvertently summons a Magic Cartooning Elf, who resembles a flying leprechaun and helps her build confidence through easy-to-follow instruction. While the two compose a tale about a knight in pursuit of a dragon in order to save a missing princess, the elf explains the importance of panels (their size and pacing), speech balloons (as well as their content’s type size and boldface), the vital role of sequence in the shaping of a narrative and in the buildup to the climactic plot twist. Step-by-step drawing instructions appear at the end (and the story they compose is both suspenseful and funny). Even seasoned comics readers may more fully appreciate the work of their favorite creators after reading this book.