A Kascht Korrection

November 21st, 2011 | Posted in General

One of the typical things you will find in any how-to book is a definition of the book’s subject. It is cliche but a good jumping-off point. On page 2 of my book The Mad Art of Caricature, I wanted to play the definition card. The problem was that the best definition I ever heard was one I could not for the life of me remember where I had heard it. That definition was:

“A caricature is a portrait with the volume turned up.”

I spent a fair amount of time trying to find out where I had heard that quote. At the time I wrote the book (late last spring) I did several Google searches for variations on the quote, and came up empty (actually just my own blog and that of a fellow caricaturist who I knew did NOT originate that quote came up). I paged through several caricature books I had including Bob Staake‘s The Complete Book of Caricature, Stephen Heller and Gail Anderson‘s The Savage Mirror and Wendy Wick ReavesCelebrity Caricature in America… nada. I even asked a few other caricaturists I knew if they had any idea who said that. Again, no dice. I finally gave up and went with the following for the book:

From the Mad Art of Caricature, Chapter 1, Page 2:

The best definition I’ve ever heard…and sadly I cannot recall the source…is:

“A caricature is a portrait with the volume turned up.”

Some time after the book’s release I got an email from caricature illustrator extraordinaire John Kascht, letting me know that the quote was his. Hearing that, I am now sure I must have heard that quote during John’s presentation at the National Caricaturist Network’s annual convention in 2000 In San Diego, when he was the special guest speaker. That definition really stuck in my head, although my recollection of where I had heard it did not. That was 11 years ago…

John was mentioned two other times in the book as an example of excellence in caricature illustration, and is an artist I greatly admire. I feel badly that he did not get proper credit for the quote in my book, but I feel I did as much due-diligence as I reasonably could to find out who to attribute it to. Failing that, I made certain that anyone reading the book would not mistake that the definition was mine or think I was claiming it to be.

If the book ever goes to a second printing, this mistake will be corrected. In the meantime I wanted at least the readers of my blog to know who that terrific definition should be attributed to, with my apologies to John.


  1. Trés correcte, cette pr?¬©cision.
    Trés int?¬©ressant, ton livre.
    Merci pour les pr?©cieux conseils !

  2. Nice of you to ensure he got proper credit. Really enjoying the book, Tom. Learning a lot.

  3. jailerjoe says:

    Quite minuscule, Tom, but thanks for the clarification. My grandma would’ve chalked it up to “Old-Timers” 🙂

  4. Daniel says:

    Great book! Tom if u watched John’s video on YouTube about his drawing of Conan obrien he says that “quote” seems like a more recent instance of where it might have gotten into your head. I think you even posted a link here for it at one point. You definitely made it clear it wasn’t yours.

  5. Jack Myhervold says:

    Tom, among the fine caricature books I have seen, your’s has the “volume turned up” with a refreshing and lively approach to how we can find what it is that makes each person’s face and personality so unique. I particularly enjoyed the -Mad job from start to finish- section. That might also make for an interesting tutorial dvd. I know you have had some very good video’s already at your site, as has John Kascht. Your talent, professionalism, discipline, and just good old fashioned sense of fun, are appreciated.

  6. Stevie Jensen says:

    Ordered the book last week, and got email notification it’s on its way woo hoo!!… I’ll make a note on page 2 about the author of the quote 🙂

  7. Jack Myhervold says:

    Tom, I have enjoyed your occasional video tutorials as well as Kascht’s. Your book is refreshing and lively, and I would buy a dvd that demonstrate’s the section about -a Mad job from start to finish. Keep up the good work.

  8. Malcolm says:

    Cool !!!!
    Does that mean if you get a second edition of this book and that issue gets corrected … the first edition would be, in the future, a “hard to find” piece of collection like a first Superman comic book ??? I see millions of dollars coming my way moohahahaha (evil laugh)

    Good to know where that quote came from, it is really a very good definition of Caricature.
    Love the book !!!

  9. Tom Bancroft says:

    Tom, I got my book a couple days ago and I LOVE IT!!! I know I had glanced through it when we met in Kenosha, but really lingering on it now, I fall deeper in love. As a fellow “how to” art instruction book writer, my hat is off to you! Its the best book on the art of caricature I have ever seen! Thank you for your hard work Tom!


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