Adventures in Cartooning: Characters in Action and Create a World
There are over 40 new pages in Adventures in Cartooning: Characters in Action (Enhanced Edition), compared to the first edition, which means more lessons on how to design characters from James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost.
The knight and his horse Edward set out to reclaim the castle from crazy director Otto Airs, who has taken over the building to make a movie. They debate what the witch should look like and cope with a mad scientist and a killer robot. These incidents provide plenty of action for the reader, making this an extremely fun read. The reader probably won’t even notice how much they’re learning about how characters look and act.
The blobby Jones and his child demonstrate how a couple of simple shapes can become all kinds of characters with the right details, costumes, and props. At one point, Edward becomes an animated stalk of broccoli, as seen on the cover, demonstrating how body language can tell us a lot about motivation and behavior.
Characters come from fantasy, sci-fi, animal, and superhero genres. The Magical Cartooning Elf talks the reader through lessons as well, demonstrating more advanced topics, such as silhouette, visual cues, expression, and proportions. There’s a surprising amount of information in this action-packed adventure.
The third book in the series, new last year, is Adventures in Cartooning: Create a World. It demonstrates some of the struggles in world-building and collaboration.
The knight is upset with Edward. The knight is demanding Edward draw (via a pencil in his mouth) great adventures and new worlds, but Edward only wants to draw candy. The Magical Cartooning Elf shows up to help the Knight learn to do his own work.
The reader learns about foreground and background, narration and speech balloons, as well as the need for patience and imagination. The Knight ventures through a variety of environments and learns an important lesson about friendship and working together.
Instead of the energetic adventure of the previous book, this volume is more reflective, with a layer of sadness and loneliness. It’s an odd choice, not quite in the mood of the previous books, but perhaps more reflective of cartooning as a practice, particularly over the last few years.