May 17th, 2013
Hard to believe there is still “news” about a book that is 18 months past its release, but today I shipped off several cases of The Mad Art of Caricature! to a company called Basheer Graphic Books in Singapore, which will be distributing it in Asia. I’m not sure how much of Asia they mean, as Asia is an awfully big place, but I am pretty sure if you are in Asia and inquire at your local book store they can probably order a copy for you. It might take a few weeks for the book to start showing up in wholesaler’s catalogs, but it should soon. That’s good news for anyone in Asia who wants to get a copy, as they don’t have to pay the outrageous shipping costs the USPS charges, worry about customs which can delay delivery for weeks, or end up with a very beat up copy on the other end despite my careful packaging. Of course, it won’t be signed, but as Alfred E. Neuman might say, “big deal”.
I have also been exploring the possibility of selling Spanish language foreign rights to a company in Spain. They would then do a translation in Spanish and sell them directly. I will say this is unlikely to happen. They don’t seem very willing to pay a reasonable advance/royalty for these rights, and are not very forthcoming in details on the process of doing the translation. Maybe another company will be better. I get a fair number of inquiries about having the book translated, especially into Spanish, but the cost is prohibitive to do it via self-publishing. Hopefully this will end up working out, it would be cool to see the book in Spanish!
Tags: The Mad Art of Caricature!
May 16th, 2013
Readers may or may not know I am a member of a web collective of cartoonists known as The Cartoonists Studio. TCS is sort of a virtual gathering place for cartoonists with pages for each member that includes bios, photo tours of their studios, news about what they are up to and links to communicate with them. It’s supposed to be a place that fans can go and “meet” the creators of their favorite cartoons. TCS is probably best known for its cartooning “contests”, where aspiring cartoonists create comics and compete for various prizes. I know it used to be a syndication deal but the latest prize is 4 weeks of mentoring by one of the professional cartoonists from the group. I know I have said I am not very big on art contests, but as they go these are good ones… they don’t own or place any claim on the artwork submitted, and while online voting factors in ultimately a panel of pro cartoonists choose the winner. The main attraction is feedback from people making their living doing cartoons.
TCS started something new this week… a blog. I know, blogs are so last decade, but this one will have entries by the many different cartoonists from the group, answering questions like how they got started, what their process is, etc. It’s worth looking at because of the diverse group and the many different views and answers you are bound to find there. The first entry is from Tom Batiuk of “Funky Winkerbean” fame, telling us about the first cartoon he ever sold. I wish the answer was a little longer and more involved, but maybe future posts will be a bit more indepth.
I’m not sure how often there will be posts on TCS Blog, but it’s a bookmark-worthy resource.
May 15th, 2013
This week I thought I’d do my Doctor Who series sketch digitally and record the process like I have done once or twice in the past, but I somehow messed up the video recording. Thus, I have simply a digital sketch and no video. Sorry about that. Oh, and here we have the eighth Doctor, as portrayed by Paul McGann.
Tags: caricature, Doctor Who, Paul McGann, sketch eighth doctor
May 14th, 2013
I’ve got an illustration for an upcoming MAD book due by this weekend, so blogging might be spotty for a few days.
May 13th, 2013
This weeks Monday MADness is not something of mine but a link to a classic MAD piece originally run in MAD #80, June 1963. Just click on the image below to go to a website called “Letters of Note” for the complete article, which is genius.
So, why am I doing this for “Monday MADness” this week, as opposed to posting some old piece of mine or some pencil roughs or something? My reasons:
- Long term thinking: I’ve only been in about 100 issues of MAD. Doing the math and factoring in there will be an additional 12 issues out over that time, plus about 3 more as I run those additional 12, that’s only 65 weeks of material. I have done 6 installments already. That means I’ll run out of material on Monday, June 30th, 2014. Now I’ll never run out of material.
- Someone else was dumb enough to post an entire, copyrighted article from MAD on the internet, so I am not going to get in any trouble for it!
Tags: Monday MADness
May 12th, 2013
Q: I am a what you would consider an “average-amateur-novice-white-belt” artist. I have spent many hours in non-art classes throughout college, grad school, and (heaven forbid) church doodling in my notebooks and on the back of Sunday programs, always impressing my less artistic siblings or classmates. I have always enjoyed drawing and now that schooling is done and I have more free time, I have decided to dedicate more time to drawing and art. In my search for instruction, I stumbled upon your book. I really enjoyed it, partially because other books about caricature seemed rather lackluster, but mostly because your caricatures are exactly the style I want to emulate, and I feel like I “get” how you look at and think about your subject matter. It’s inspired me to take up the pencil and pen again and really start dedicating time to this since I really enjoy it!
In my pursuit of developing this hibernated talent, I have found myself lacking some of the basic skills that make the portrait in my head the same or similar to the portrait that comes out on the paper (i.e. borders, shading, the use of negative space, texturing, etc.) and that the pencil or pen tend to guide my drawings rather than my vision. I know that developing this skill of translating my vision to the page takes years of practice and diligence, and as you said, after doing about 500 caricatures, you may finally start to get the hang of it, but I was wondering if there were any tips you might have as a head start, like basic courses, books, or other media that you have found helpful when mentoring younger, greener artists?
A: I usually try to edit down long versions of questions like this one, but I thought the background was pertinent to the question and the answer. If I was going to boil it all down onto one simple question, it might be this:
“Can you give me a resource that will allow me to shorten the “practice, practice, practice” part of learning to be an artist and magically teach me how to draw almost instantly?”
No, I can’t. No such thing. There really isn’t. I tell people this all the time and they say “Yes, I understand that. BUT…” and then proceed to ask some variation of the question above. I don’t even have any specific courses, books, or resources I’d recommend in general because everybody has different issues and are at different levels in their art skills that there is no general resource to recommend. Some artists need to work on their basic anatomy and structure in drawing, some need to focus on composition or design, others need to concentrate on their perspective or ability to draw convincing environments or some other aspect of their work. That makes any one resource impossible to recommend, so I don’t even try. And that is more for artists who are already well down the road of skill and ability, let alone the novice.
I find most young or inexperienced artists just need to work on their DRAWING. Every aspect of it. Books are great, video instruction is great, classrooms are great, but again there really are no shortcuts. There are no secret passages, rituals, or magic incantations that will make a meaningful difference in art skill development. If there is anything that is beneficial, it is exposure to as many different kinds of art and drawing, and different mediums, as possible so an inexperienced artist just getting into their art has an opportunity to explore and find out what interests them and resonates in their own work. As you so kindly say, you found something in my work that you “get”, and that’s the first stage in developing your own voice as an artist. After that, seeking out learning tools like books, videos and classes that apply to the art that interests you is a wonderful idea, but it really is those countless hours of drawing, drawing, drawing that brings your skills around.
I will get letters from people saying they found this book, or that video series, or some such that they say really made a difference for them. Maybe they happened upon something right at the moment that some specific instruction really would make a difference, and it just happened to be perfect for them. That’s great, but it’s such an individual matter it is hard to recommend that same book to another artist, as they might get little from it. I personally think the kind of art book or media that is really helpful is the one that inspires you to do all those countless drawings and spend those hours and hours of practice needed to make real advances in skill and ability. Yes, those books or videos might teach you some theories or techniques that you pick up on and use, but the most effective thing they do is get you DRAWING, which is the only way to get your eyes, brain and hand to start working in tandem to create art.
As MAD art director Sam Viviano said in the afterword of my book:
The one thing Tom does not point out enough in these pages (he could say it in big boldface type on every single page and it wouldn’t be enough) is that no amount of reading will turn you into a great artist. The only way to become an artist is to pick up the tools and start making pictures. A much wiser artist than I once told me that the road to one good drawing is paved with thousands of bad drawings. It’s a long road, but the experience of traveling on it can be exhilarating. <snip>… all the tips culled from the writings of others are only useful if you put them into practice. You’ve got to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Thanks to Dan Duran 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.
May 10th, 2013
We might be seeing this guy’s ugly mug a bit the next few weeks. My last theme park operation opens tomorrow, I’ve got two major MAD jobs in the works, one due yesterday, four other illustration jobs on the board with two due imminently, and I’ve got this little weekend event called the NCS Reuben Award Weekend I’m in charge of planning and pulling off less than two weeks away.
I’m really starting to hate May.
May 9th, 2013
Some months ago MAD quietly redid their website and got rid of the separate official blog formerly known as “The Idiotical”. Actually DC rebranded all their websites, and MAD was along for the ride. They merged the blog with the rest of the site so it became one central place to go and get daily updates, news, gags (and gagging), shopping etc. Now when you visit, there is a two column staggered list of teasers ala a Facebook wall, with the latest MAD tomfoolery. They still post original content, often of the parody movie poster or TV ad variety, plus sneak peeks of stuff from the latest issue, comics from “The Strip Club”, classic MAD features like Don Martin cartoons and more.
They have done a great job at embracing the one element to their website content that is impossible to duplicate in the magazine: the ability to address up-to-the-minute current events and news. With a 6 week lag between press date and news stand appearance, publications like MAD cannot match the instantaneous nature of the internet. The editors therefore make sure much of what they do on the website takes advantage of that dynamic, making fun of breaking news and buzz like Governor Chris Christie’s lapband surgey, Martha Stewart’s Match.com participation, and the Jason Collins announcement.
I was sad to see them lose “The Idiotical” concept, though. I thought that was a funny idea to have a virtual magazine format where they published MAD humor online, and I loved the name. Ah, well. Same content, different presentation. Check out MAD‘s website early and often for a dose of daily MADness.
May 8th, 2013
Better late than never today… a quick sketch of the seventh Doctor as played by Sylvester McCoy.
Tags: caricature, Doctor Who, sketch, Sylvester McCoy
May 7th, 2013
I am a pretty tough person to buy gifts for. I basically have everything I could ever want (within reason… freelance illustrators as a general rule can’t afford Porsches or winter homes in Hawaii). I have a complete batsuit, for God’s sake. The Lovely Anna and my kids and family hate my birthday and the holidays because they just don’t have a clue what to get me. That means they have to ask me, so I am seldom surprised by anything.
Anna is pretty creative, though. This year for my birthday (which was this past Saturday… 47, thanks for asking) she surprised me with some awesome vintage art supplies she found scouring antique stores. Among the treasures were:
an old Faber Castell tin pencil box and dip pen,
a bottle of Sanford’s Xit Ink Eraser which came in a tin container/sleeve,
a Cardinell lettering guide,
some old pen nibs including a bunch of Resterbrook Falcon 048′s,
and an antique brass inkwell (see open pic of it at top). That last is really awesome and I’ll be using it often.
Very cool stuff. I love old art supplies. If you have never checked it out, visit Lou Brook‘s Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies. Lots of fun stuff there.