Sunday Mailbag

January 13th, 2008 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: I know there is no substitute for actual art instruction. Books have often help me though. I was wondering if there are any books that you recommend on cartooning in general? What books do you recommend for caricaturing? Most of books are geared toward kids or just seem to scratch the surface but don’t give the tools needed to make the connection between what makes a cartoon a caricature.

A: There is no definitive book on how to draw caricatures. There are a number of them out there, but each has it’s own focus (i.e. live caricature, general caricature, cutsey cartoon caricature) so you need to identify what your goals are before deciding on which one works good for you.

There are a ton of cartooning books out there, and while each has it’s own unique approach they again vary wildly with respect to style and technique.

I recommend a number of books on caricature and cartooning, but also on general drawing as well. I think that last category of books helps the cartoonist more than the more specific cartooning books do. Learning to draw is a general thing that can be learned and applied to your specific style of drawing, but cartooning is a very style-orientated and personal way of looking at and simplifying the universe… I am not sure how much good it does the cartoonist to try and learn “how to cartoon” from another cartoonist. The author will invariably be presenting their personal style as the ‘correct way’ to cartoon since that is what they know. It’s hard to separate the style from the substance.

With all that said, here is a list of books I recommend for cartooning, caricature and drawing in general, as well as some MAD books. There are many others, but these are ones that get the most thumbing through in my own bookcase.

Thanks to Joel from Vancouver, WA for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!

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