Great Cartooning Books

I’m frequently asked to provide advice on cartooning and on resources available to cartoonists. There are books in my library I consider essential reads, and I find myself going through them often, rereading, discovering new information, and reminding myself of the important elements involved in creating this challenging form of art. I’ve mentioned them in the past, but they’re worth repeating, my first has to be “The Cartoonist’s Muse” by Mischa Richter and Harald Bakken. This book is particularly useful for gag-writing and developing ideas into single panel cartoons. Absolutely brilliant and exceptionally useful for the toughest part of being a cartoonist – good writing. Next, is Mort Gerberg’s book, “Cartooning, The Art and the Business”. Mort takes the reader through the tools of the trade: pens, pencils, paper, nibs – all of it in detail. Then he describes visual development of a cartoon and the considerations required to make it successful. Finally, he discusses uses for cartoon art and markets – a great and very useful book. Here’s more in no particular order:

“The Secrets Of Professional Cartooning” by Ken Muse – a very good book that covers in great detail the world of the syndicated cartoonist. It has a lot of unique insight and is an enjoyable read. While it’s over thirty years old, the information may still have relevence for those seeking cartoon syndication.

“The Complete Cartoons Of The New Yorker” edited by Bob Mankoff – To my mind, New Yorker cartoonists represent the finest cartoonists in the business, now or in the past. Aspiring cartoonists would do well to study the art, the humor, and the style of the thousands of examples present within this book. I’ve worn my copy mighty thin.

“Good Grief: The Story Of Charles M. Schulz” by Rheta Grimsley Johnson – An icon to so many young cartoonists, myself included, has been Charles Schulz. His “Peanuts” characters have been read in newspapers now for generations, and have become part of the fabric of our American culture. This story of his life is a fascinating read, and an inspiration.

“Charles Addams: A Cartoonist’s Life” – by Linda H. Davis – Charles Addams lived the life of a cartoonist at a time when the financial rewards and acclaim were in abundance. A very enjoyable read, and a glimpse at the world of a cartoonist at its apex.

“Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market” is a necessary annual purchase for the working cartoonist and artist. It is filled with many, but certainly not all, current markets, their needs, contact information, rights sought, and pay.

There are many more books piled in the shelves of my cartooning library, but this is a healthy start. I’ll update more soon!

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