The best books about cartoons

3 authors have picked their favorite books about cartoons and why they recommend each book.

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How to Draw Cute Stuff, 1

By Angela Nguyen,

Book cover of How to Draw Cute Stuff, 1: Draw Anything and Everything in the Cutest Style Ever!

This book features a simple, modern art style that will be appealing to most young artists. It starts out with a nice introduction to drawing tools and basic shapes then moves on to drawing simple objects that can be found around the house. Character design and perspective are also covered and done so with a light, humorous tone. A very comprehensive guide to drawing and an excellent resource!


Who am I?

My name is Art Roche and I've been drawing cartoons and comic strips for over twenty-five years. I wish everyone drew comics! Comic strips are an amazing art form that has been around for thousands of years. With a simple pencil, pen, and paper the artist can tell thrilling stories, make hilarious jokes, or illustrate their own diaries. Once you learn the basic mechanics of how comics are designed and built, anyone can begin drawing them regardless of talent level or experience.


I wrote...

Art for Kids: Comic Strips, 3: Create Your Own Comic Strips from Start to Finish

By Art Roche,

Book cover of Art for Kids: Comic Strips, 3: Create Your Own Comic Strips from Start to Finish

What is my book about?

I set out to create a book that demonstrates the actual process of creating a comic strip from start to finish. I wanted the reader to be able to feel confident about everything from drawing, to writing jokes, to creating characters. I’ve gotten great feedback about this book and young artists seem to really enjoy the artwork and the sample comic strip in the book, Galaxy Dog.

My other books include: Art for Kids: Cartooning Create Your Own Comic Strips from Start to Finish and The Knights of Boo’Gar. This book is a funny chapter book that features brave knights and princesses, enchanted turtles, monsters, and one very special goat.

The Big Book of Faces

By Erik DePrince,

Book cover of The Big Book of Faces: How to Draw 400 Easy to follow Step by Step Drawing Lessons for Kids

I enjoy this book because it teaches artists of all ages how to draw various simple facial cartoons in a twelve-step sequential style that is easy to follow. How to draw people with different expressions is essential for any cartoonist. I like how this book takes the artist from drawing happy faces to surprised faces while covering a variety of nationalities. There are many components to drawing faces, such as eyes, a nose, a mouth, ears, and hair, and I like how this book covers it thoroughly in 400 different variations of faces. “Face” the fact that I never take a book at “face” value.

Who am I?

I've been cartooning, or "curtooning," my entire life. As a child, I drew cartoons of everything, from animals to dinosaurs, and was the cartoonist for my elementary school, junior high school, high school, and college newspapers. My cartooning style with big eyes and simple lines came from my favorite cartoonists and their cartoon strips that I read every day in the newspapers. However, my most significant influence was reading every cartoon in Mad Magazine, including comics from Don Martin, Sergio Aragonés, and Al Jaffee. When cable came out with multiple channels in the 1980s, I felt there was not enough kid-friendly content, so I created my award-winning cable show titled It's Curtoon Time.


I wrote...

How to Draw Cartoon Reptiles

By Curt Visca, Kelley Visca,

Book cover of How to Draw Cartoon Reptiles

What is my book about?

Cartoonists of all ages will learn easy-to-follow techniques on how to draw eight reptiles in six easy steps while learning fascinating facts about each creature. Each reptile cartoon (rattlesnake, cobra, python, chameleon, gecko, desert tortoise, sea turtle, and crocodile) is paired with interesting facts to entice artists into the creeping, slithering, and crawling world of reptiles. Terms for drawing cartoons, a glossary, and an index are included to build a cartoonist's vocabulary. These drawing terms include action lines, angles lines, wiggly lines, and zigzag lines. This hardbound book has been in school and public libraries throughout the United States for over 20 years.

Draw 50 Famous Cartoons

By Lee J. Ames,

Book cover of Draw 50 Famous Cartoons: The Step-By-Step Way to Draw Your Favorite Classic Cartoon Characters

This book brings back many fond memories of Saturday mornings as a child when I would watch Popeye and Felix cartoons and The Archie Show on TV. I don’t think we can call a cartoon character Jughead anymore, but you can learn how to draw Jughead step by step and his trademark beanie. This crown-shaped cap, also called a whoopee cap or Jughead cap was popular in the 1930s to 1940s. You’ll go down memory lane with this book and, in a Popeye voice, say, “I yam what I yam.”

Who am I?

I've been cartooning, or "curtooning," my entire life. As a child, I drew cartoons of everything, from animals to dinosaurs, and was the cartoonist for my elementary school, junior high school, high school, and college newspapers. My cartooning style with big eyes and simple lines came from my favorite cartoonists and their cartoon strips that I read every day in the newspapers. However, my most significant influence was reading every cartoon in Mad Magazine, including comics from Don Martin, Sergio Aragonés, and Al Jaffee. When cable came out with multiple channels in the 1980s, I felt there was not enough kid-friendly content, so I created my award-winning cable show titled It's Curtoon Time.


I wrote...

How to Draw Cartoon Reptiles

By Curt Visca, Kelley Visca,

Book cover of How to Draw Cartoon Reptiles

What is my book about?

Cartoonists of all ages will learn easy-to-follow techniques on how to draw eight reptiles in six easy steps while learning fascinating facts about each creature. Each reptile cartoon (rattlesnake, cobra, python, chameleon, gecko, desert tortoise, sea turtle, and crocodile) is paired with interesting facts to entice artists into the creeping, slithering, and crawling world of reptiles. Terms for drawing cartoons, a glossary, and an index are included to build a cartoonist's vocabulary. These drawing terms include action lines, angles lines, wiggly lines, and zigzag lines. This hardbound book has been in school and public libraries throughout the United States for over 20 years.

The How To Draw Book For Kids Anything Everything in the Cutest Style

By Takeshi Sugimori,

Book cover of The How To Draw Book For Kids Anything Everything in the Cutest Style

This book makes me smile because it's filled with a plethora of the cutest cartoons to draw step by step, from rainbows to cupcakes. Sometimes a person will tell me they don't like to draw certain types of cartoons, such as a cat. Still, I remind them that drawing something you are not interested in broadens your horizons and deepens your understanding of the world as you step out of your comfort zone. I like how author Takeshi Sugimori reminds artists to believe in themselves. Plus, he covers the artform of sketch hatching or shading, which is rarely covered in books. When I taught kids how to draw on my It's Curtoon Time TV show, I would remind them to add shading at the end of each cartoon. Sometimes life is about rainbows and unicorns!

Who am I?

I've been cartooning, or "curtooning," my entire life. As a child, I drew cartoons of everything, from animals to dinosaurs, and was the cartoonist for my elementary school, junior high school, high school, and college newspapers. My cartooning style with big eyes and simple lines came from my favorite cartoonists and their cartoon strips that I read every day in the newspapers. However, my most significant influence was reading every cartoon in Mad Magazine, including comics from Don Martin, Sergio Aragonés, and Al Jaffee. When cable came out with multiple channels in the 1980s, I felt there was not enough kid-friendly content, so I created my award-winning cable show titled It's Curtoon Time.


I wrote...

How to Draw Cartoon Reptiles

By Curt Visca, Kelley Visca,

Book cover of How to Draw Cartoon Reptiles

What is my book about?

Cartoonists of all ages will learn easy-to-follow techniques on how to draw eight reptiles in six easy steps while learning fascinating facts about each creature. Each reptile cartoon (rattlesnake, cobra, python, chameleon, gecko, desert tortoise, sea turtle, and crocodile) is paired with interesting facts to entice artists into the creeping, slithering, and crawling world of reptiles. Terms for drawing cartoons, a glossary, and an index are included to build a cartoonist's vocabulary. These drawing terms include action lines, angles lines, wiggly lines, and zigzag lines. This hardbound book has been in school and public libraries throughout the United States for over 20 years.

Graphic Satire in the Soviet Union

By John Etty,

Book cover of Graphic Satire in the Soviet Union: Krokodil's Political Cartoons

Soviet satire is often overlooked or dismissed as purely propaganda. John Etty offers a refreshingly updated look at a key Soviet publication and provides the casual reader with an introduction to the colorful and humorous content in the USSR’s premier satirical journal. He explores how content was created, revealing a collaborative process that could involve everyone from the head of the party to everyday readers. While there was oversight and interference from state censors and political authorities, and self-censorship in the 1930s due to repression, Etty reveals that editors and creators had a great deal of creative freedom.

Etty also explores the Krokodil “Extended Universe”. In the 1920s, when there was a severe shortage of paper and many citizens were illiterate, Live Krokodil, a repertory company was organized in theatres, workers’ and Red Army clubs. Additionally, Krokodil published the Krokodil Library (Biblioteka Krokodila) which included cartoon compendiums and…


Who am I?

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Foreign Language Teaching Methodologies at Vyatka State University in Kirov, Russia. My book Stalin’s Constitution: Soviet Participatory Politics and the Discussion of the 1936 Draft Constitution was published in November 2017.  Most recently I have published an article-length study entitled Peasant Communal Traditions in the Expulsion of Collective Farm Members in the Vyatka–Kirov Region 1932–1939 in Europe Asia Studies in July 2012. I am currently conducting research for a future book manuscript on daily life on the collective farms and the day-to-day relationships between collective farmers and local officials.


I wrote...

Stalin's Constitution: Soviet Participatory Politics and the Discussion of the 1936 Draft Constitution

By Samantha Lomb,

Book cover of Stalin's Constitution: Soviet Participatory Politics and the Discussion of the 1936 Draft Constitution

What is my book about?

Upon its adoption in December 1936, Soviet leaders hailed the new so-called Stalin Constitution as the most democratic in the world. Scholars have long scoffed at this claim, noting that the mass repression of 1937–1938 that followed rendered it a hollow document. This study does not address these competing claims, but rather focuses on the six-month-long popular discussion of the draft Constitution, which preceded its formal adoption in December 1936.

Drawing on rich archival sources, this book uses the discussion of the draft 1936 Constitution to examine discourse between the central state leadership and citizens about the new Soviet social contract, which delineated the roles the state and citizens should play in developing socialism. 

Understanding Comics

By Scott McCloud,

Book cover of Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art

I’m going to tell you a secret. The working title for my own book was Understanding Entertainment, because I was so inspired by reading Understanding Comics. This book will help you understand the strange relationship between visual art and storytelling that is central to videogame design. The book hardly mentions video games, but when you read it, the applications to games will be obvious to you. More importantly, this book is one of the best “explainers” you’ll ever encounter. If you can make a game tutorial that is 1/10 as lucid as Understanding Comics, you will have done your game a great service. I’m such a huge fan that I not only got Scott to sign my copy, I persuaded his whole family to sign it, too.


Who am I?

I have always loved game design – I love doing it, reading about it, thinking about it, and helping others do it. As you can see in the list, I’ve learned that sometimes what helps game designers most is getting inspiration from other fields. I hope these books help you as much as they helped me.


I wrote...

The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses

By Jesse Schell,

Book cover of The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses

What is my book about?

The Art of Game Design guides you through the design process step-by-step, helping you to develop new and innovative games that will be played again and again. It explains the fundamental principles of game design and demonstrates how tactics used in classic board, card, and athletic games also work in top-quality video games.

Good game design happens when you view your game from as many perspectives as possible, and I present over 100 sets of questions to ask yourself as you build, play, and change your game until you finalize your design. Whatever your role may be in video game development, an understanding of the principles of game design will make you better at what you do.

Broadsides

By James Davey, Richard Johns,

Book cover of Broadsides: Caricature and the Navy 1756 - 1815

I’m greatly drawn to the caricaturists and satirists of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. In the days before the internet they were often vehicles for witty, sometimes very pointed, commentary on all aspects of society. This book, with prints from the National Maritime Museum, focuses on the Royal Navy during the later eighteenth and early nineteenth century.


Who am I?

I wanted to go to the sea ever since I can remember. In the hope of having the nonsense knocked out of me, my father sent me at the tender age of fourteen to the ‘Indefatigable’, a tough sea-training school. This only strengthened my resolve for a life at sea, and I joined the Royal Navy at 15. My family emigrated and I transferred to the Royal Australian Navy and saw service around the world.  Although I no longer have an active involvement with the navy, I sail in my imagination through my sea-faring novels.


I wrote...

Balkan Glory: Thomas Kydd 23

By Julian Stockwin,

Book cover of Balkan Glory: Thomas Kydd 23

What is my book about?

1811. The Adriatic, the 'French Lake', is now the most valuable territory Napoleon Bonaparte possesses. Captain Sir Thomas Kydd finds his glorious return to England cut short when the Admiralty summons him to lead a squadron of frigates into these waters to cause havoc and distress to the enemy. Kydd is dubbed 'The Sea Devil' by Bonaparte who personally appoints one of his favourites, Dubourdieu, along with a fleet that greatly outweighs the British, to rid him of this menace. Kydd will face Dubourdieu with impossible odds stacked against him.

Can he shatter Bonaparte's dreams of breaking out of Europe and marching to the gates of India and Asia?

Cartoon Animation with Preston Blair

By Preston Blair,

Book cover of Cartoon Animation with Preston Blair: Learn Techniques for Drawing and Animating Cartoon Characters

I believe this is one of the greatest books for breaking down and understanding the emotion and simplicity of construction. I love that it offers a variety of animals and humans to draw from and it can save you so much time by teaching you the basic fundamentals of drawing cartoon faces that will guide you throughout your career.

Who am I?

Stephen Silver has been a professional working artist, character designer, and teacher in the industry for over 30 years. He developed intellectual properties for some of the largest media companies in the world; such as Disney, Warner Bros., Nickelodeon, Sony, MAD Magazine, Reel FX, Bento box, Hasbro, Universal, DreamWorks, and more. Stephen is responsible for the visual character development and design of some of animation’s most iconic shows; including Disney’s Kim Possible, Nickelodeon’s Danny Phantom, and Disney’s Clerks: The Animated Series, to name a few.


I wrote...

The Silver Way: Techniques, Tips, and Tutorials for Effective Character Design

By Stephen Silver,

Book cover of The Silver Way: Techniques, Tips, and Tutorials for Effective Character Design

What is my book about?

The Silver Way: Techniques, Tips, and Tutorials for Effective Character Design by Stephen Silver offers invaluable instruction from one of the best teachers in the industry. Whether you’re a professional artist interested in improving your drawing skills, or an aspiring designer fresh out of high school looking to add to your portfolio, The Silver Way will help you build your confidence and strengthen your work in order to successfully design characters for any project, in any style.

Chockfull of helpful—and entertaining!—drawing techniques and easy-to-follow tutorials developed through his decades of experience as an artist on popular animated shows (Kim Possible, Danny Phantom, The Fairly OddParents) and as the owner of Silver Drawing Academy, The Silver Way is the kind of educational art book you’ll revisit again and again for guidance, encouragement, and inspiration.

Let's Make Comics!

By Jess Smart Smiley,

Book cover of Let's Make Comics!: An Activity Book to Create, Write, and Draw Your Own Cartoons

The author of this book is a working cartoonist and illustrator and that makes this one of the best books out there. The book packs an immense amount of practical information about how to draw cartoons into easy, fun worksheet-style activities. Different styles of writing, as well as complex concepts, are communicated in simple visually striking lessons. I have to admit if I was giving a young artist a book (and they already had both of mine) I would definitely give them this book. It’s comprehensive, fun, and simple. It also allows the young artist room to draw in their own style, instead of copying a given drawing. That’s one of my pet peeves!


Who am I?

My name is Art Roche and I've been drawing cartoons and comic strips for over twenty-five years. I wish everyone drew comics! Comic strips are an amazing art form that has been around for thousands of years. With a simple pencil, pen, and paper the artist can tell thrilling stories, make hilarious jokes, or illustrate their own diaries. Once you learn the basic mechanics of how comics are designed and built, anyone can begin drawing them regardless of talent level or experience.


I wrote...

Art for Kids: Comic Strips, 3: Create Your Own Comic Strips from Start to Finish

By Art Roche,

Book cover of Art for Kids: Comic Strips, 3: Create Your Own Comic Strips from Start to Finish

What is my book about?

I set out to create a book that demonstrates the actual process of creating a comic strip from start to finish. I wanted the reader to be able to feel confident about everything from drawing, to writing jokes, to creating characters. I’ve gotten great feedback about this book and young artists seem to really enjoy the artwork and the sample comic strip in the book, Galaxy Dog.

My other books include: Art for Kids: Cartooning Create Your Own Comic Strips from Start to Finish and The Knights of Boo’Gar. This book is a funny chapter book that features brave knights and princesses, enchanted turtles, monsters, and one very special goat.

Making Comics

By Scott McCloud,

Book cover of Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels

The subtitle to Making Comics is: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels. In this book, Scott gets practical, and shows you how to apply what you learned from his previous volumes. In his introduction, he writes, “The comics industry is changing fast. Old formats die and new ones are born. Whole industries come and go. But these storytelling principles always apply. They mattered fifty years ago and they’ll matter fifty years from now.” To quote Stan Lee, ‘nuff said.


Who am I?

I’m an Eisner-nominated and award-winning graphic novel and comics writer, editor, and book packager. I've worked on staff at the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Disney Publishing, DC Comics, Nickelodeon Magazine, and Platinum Studios. My sequential art book, The Bramble, won the 2013 Moonbeam Gold Medal for Picture Books, and I created a new way to read comics with BirdCatDog, a 2015 Eisner Awards nominee, that received the 2015 Moonbeam Spirit Award Gold Medal for Imagination, and was chosen by Kirkus Reviews as one of the best children’s books of 2014. SheHeWe, the third book in the series, was a 2016 Eisner Award nominee for Best Publication for Early Readers.


I wrote...

Comics Creator Prep

By Lee Nordling,

Book cover of Comics Creator Prep

What is my book about?

Where inspiration and spontaneity prime a comic’s pump, create a vision, propel it forward, and give it life, Comics Creator Prep raises the level of comics craft to give a creator the requisite tools to consistently realize that vision. It shows creators how to use the tools in their comic toolboxes well.

One Amazon reader wrote: “This book deserves a place next to the works of McCloud and Eisner on any would-be comics creator's bookshelf. Nordling's classroom-style comics-writing exercises, and critiques of his (imaginary) students’ executions of them, really help to hammer home points about how to think comics, in a way that simple exposition cannot.”

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